WEC 50: "Cruz vs. Benavidez" is all set for this Wednesday night (Aug. 18, 2010) from "The Pearl" at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The five-fight main card will air live on the cable channel Versus, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz will defend his title for the first time ever in the night's featured main event against Team Alpha Male product Joseph Benavidez, which marks a rematch of a barn-burner of a fight from WEC 42 last summer.
Shane Roller, Anthony Pettis, Scott Jorgensen, Bart Palaszewski, Cub Swanson and several other WEC stars will be in action on the card, too.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities I've given some analysis and predictions for the main card below. Check it out:
Dominick Cruz vs. Joseph Benavidez(135-pound division limit)
The primary reason Cruz won the first match up between these two is because he surprised Benavidez with two things: His speed and his takedowns.
Benavidez was used to coming into fights being the quicker and more athletic guy, but when Cruz was beating him to the punch on nearly every exchange, he didn't know how to deal with it.
Then on top of that, he was supposed to be the better wrestler, but Cruz kept taking him down. It was an eye-opening fight for the Team Alpha Male trainee for sure, but since then he's done nothing but improve and look more impressive than ever with dominating wins over Rani Yahya and former division kingpin Miguel Torres.
His counter punching attack has improved by leaps and bounds, and he's displayed some devastating power his last two times out. Plus, now that the element of surprise is taken out of the equation, he can come into the rematch with a much more winnable gameplan.
It's a five round fight, so there will be plenty of time to set things up, but Benavidez is not going to let Cruz dot him up from the outside and then shoot in two or three times a round and put him on his back like he did last time.
In fact, you can bet Benavidez is going to want to be the one on top if the fight goes to the ground this time around. He's the better wrestler and he knows how important the takedowns were in the first fight.
I expect Benavidez to fight a much smarter fight, with a much better answer for Cruz's aggression. Benavidez is not completely out-gunned on his feet, but Cruz is still bigger, faster, a lot harder to hit, and probably the more attractive stand up fighter in the eyes of the judges.
Cruz has to respect Benavidez's power, but he still has an edge on his feet with his speed and reach advantages. Still, I think Benavidez is hungrier and much more motivated for this fight. And like I said before, I expect a much smarter gameplan.
Takedowns will be the difference again, but this time for the challenger. Plus, he has a much better chance a scoring a knockout or submission than the champ because of his power and strength. I like Benavidez.
Final prediction: Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision
Anthony Pettis vs. Shane Roller(155-pound limit)
I got Shane Roller in this fight. Pettis is an exciting fighter with a lot of promise, but this is a bad match up for him.
The two opponents (Sherron Leggett and Bart Palaszewski) he's faced so far in his career that have given him the most trouble were both solid wrestlers. And neither one of those guys is as good as Shane Roller in that department.
Roller is a monster for the lightweight division and he's even stronger than his physically imposing frame suggests. He's going to put pressure on Pettis and negate his striking abilities with clinching and takedowns. When they lock up, Roller is going to be too strong.
I don't think Pettis is going to be able to defend the takedowns, and from there Roller should get this thing done by some type of choke in either the first or second round.
Final prediction: Shane Roller via submission
Zach Micklewright vs. Bart Palaszewski (155-pound limit)
The most important thing to know here is that "Bartimus" has 40 more fights worth of experience than the young Micklewright.
Micklewright has the advantage in the stand up, but he hasn't had to face anyone with the experience or ground skills of Palaszewski ... yet. There's no reason to believe that Palaszewski won't take this kid to school with takedowns and ground control en route to some type of submission.
"Bartimus" is experienced enough to know that it would be stupid for him to take his chances on his feet in this type of fight. Instead, he'll take the youngster out of his comfort zone and win this one on the ground like he's done a bunch of times before.
Final prediction: Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski via submission
Scott Jorgensen vs. Brad Pickett (155-pound limit)
I like Jorgensen in this fight.
Pickett has an impressive record and a nice winning streak, but he hasn't really faced all that tough of competition. Even in the WEC, both of his fights have been against relative newcomers.
Jorgensen, on the other hand, has been in the WEC cage against guys like Damacio Page, Antonio Baneulos, Kenji Osawa and Takaya Mizugaki, among others.
And he's done very well ... especially lately.
He's quick on his feet. He can take you down. He has good ground and pound. His submissions are tight. And he has a ton of confidence built up after beating the division's former number one contender (Mizugaki) and avenging a previous loss to Banuelos with a one-sided decision.
I think Pickett is going to get taken down and eventually submitted in this fight by an aggressive Scott Jorgensen.
Final prediction: Scott Jorgensen via submission
Chad Mendes vs. Cub Swanson (145-pound limit)
Swanson had some early bad luck in his two WEC losses against Jens Pulver and Jose Aldo, but other than that he's been stellar during his time with the promotion with three submission wins and two others by unanimous decision.
He trains with the Greg Jackson camp in New Mexico, which means he's always going to come into his fights in great shape and with a great gameplan.
Mendes is undefeated in seven fights, including two under the WEC banner. He's a hard-nosed wrestler with excellent strength and solid ground and pound. I expect him to look for takedowns and a lot of top control in this fight.
Swanson has a good guillotine, though, so that could come into play. He is also the better striker, meaning he'll probably try to keep the fight upright. If he gets put on his back, he may be in for a long night.
This one will probably come down to whoever executes their gameplan better. In that case, I'll go with the Greg Jackson guy, although I think Mendes has a great chance.
Final prediction: Cub Swanson via unanimous decision
That's a wrap. Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below.
And Remember that MMAmania.com will provide live blow-by-blow commentary of the main card beginning with the Versus telecast at 9 p.m. ET on fight night. Check in early and often.