WEC 35 is set to take place live tonight from "The Joint" at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event will air on the cable channel Versus beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
It's been more than two months now since WEC 34, which was highlighted by an "old vs. new" five round featherweight war between Urijah "The California Kid" Faber and Jens "Little Evil" Pulver. That show was a success when compared to the network debut for Elite XC on CBS, which took place during the same weekend.
With three titles on the line (welterweight, light heavyweight and lightweight), and some sick under card action set to take place, WEC 35 has the makings to be just as exciting as WEC 34 was ... if not more. To get you ready for another solid weekend of mixed martial arts action with WEC, we've detailed each of the main card fights and provided some predictions as well.
Here we go:
WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit (22-4) vs. Hiromitsu Miura (9-4)
Miura has won his last two fights for WEC, his most recent of which, a first round knockout against Blas Avena, was his first at 170 pounds.
Making the move from middleweight will give Miura a size and strength advantage in this fight. Whether that will make a difference against a technician the caliber of Condit is the question for the Japanese fighter.
If you look at the champ's fight history, he's had little to no trouble with bigger, stronger and more controlling opponents. He handled Brock Larson, who is an absolute beast, in half a round. He submitted Frank Trigg in the first round once upon a time. He submitted John Alessio, Carlo Prater and the list goes on and on.
With that said, Miura has never been submitted in a fight. He's been knocked out three times and lost a decision once, but has never tapped out. That certainly could change against a guy like Condit, who has 12 career wins by submission. But even if Miura's submission defense holds against "The Natural Born Killer," he'll still have to deal with Condit's underrated Muay Thai game, which has netted him nine career knockouts.
It's a pick your poison with Carlos Condit. He hasn't been able to showcase his stand up arsenal too much recently because he's been scoring early submissions, but that doesn't mean the guy doesn't have a solid all around game. This fight could be that chance for Condit to display his versatility.
Either way, I don't see Miura making it out of the first round. In fact, I think Condit will serve him up his first career submission.
Final prediction: Condit via first round submission
WEC Light Heavyweight Champion Brian Stann (6-0) vs. Steve Cantwell (5-1)
Stann won the light heavyweight gold by dispatching Doug Marshall relatively easy with a first round technical knockout back in March. In fact, all six of Stann's professional mixed martial arts wins have been by first round knockout, one of which was against Steve Cantwell in March of 2007 just 41 seconds into the fight.
With that being Cantwell's lone loss in his young career, he'll be looking for revenge tomorrow night. Whether he gets that revenge against a monster like Stann is another story.
But Cantwell says he feels he should have won their first fight despite only lasting 41 seconds. "I should have won the first time. He just had a lot of things going for him. This is going to be my fight. It’s my redemption," said Cantwell.
It's good to have confidence, and a solid gameplan, but like it's said in this sport, "everybody has a gameplan until they get hit."
However, the same can be said to the champ. Steve Cantwell is also a large man who can hit you very hard. The two stood toe to toe last time, and Stann's power prevailed, but that doesn't mean it can't go in Cantwell's favor this time.
Either way, this is going to be a fun fight. There's no way this fight makes it past round two, if that, and those are the type of fights that favor Brian Stann. I got the champ retaining his belt in this one.
Final prediction: Stann via first round knockout
WEC Lightweight Champion Jamie "The Worm" Varner (14-2) vs. Marcus "The Wrecking Ball" Hicks (8-0)
Jamie Varner defeated "Razor" Rob McCullough back in February to win the WEC lightweight gold. A win over a fighter like "Razor" Rob is certainly a nice feather in one's cap, but it doesn't get any easier defending your belt once you win it.
Marcus Hicks is an animal, or a "wrecking ball" as his nickname suggests. He has stormed through the competition in his three WEC fights, defeating Ed Ratcliff, Scott McAfee, and Sergio Gomez each by guillotine. He has definitely earned this title shot with his dominating presence inside the cage.
This is an interesting match up of submission style fighters who can also bang. Varner is riding high on confidence, but Hicks isn't short in that department either. "I think we match up pretty good, but at the end of the end of the night I’m sure I’m going to win," said Hicks of his opponent.
Varner is almost ten years younger than Hicks, yet has twice as many fights. The champ certainly feels like his experience will help him pick apart the dangerous Hicks. Here's what he had to say about his opponent:
"He’s very dangerous. He can knock you out on his feet. He’s heavy handed and he’s got really good jiu-jitsu. He’s a tough dude. He poses many challenges and a lot of people think he will beat me. But I really see me having to pick him apart. I don’t see this fight taking more than two rounds. I just feel like I’m better and I’m going to go out and prove that. He is tough, but I will beat him."
This fight could win fight of the night. There will be no shortage of action, that's for sure.
Hicks is a little too powerful and a little too explosive for Varner to finish, unless he can wear him out and allow his cardio to prevail in the later rounds, but there's no reason to suggest Hick's cardio isn't solid, we just haven't had an opportunity to see it put to the test yet.
With this being a five round championship fight, there's a decent chance we'll see that tomorrow night.
My gut feeling says Varner will know how to deal with this guy, and he'll pull out a tough, hard fought win, but I'm going with who I feel is the more talented fighter, and that's Marcus Hicks.
Regardless, this should be a war!
Final prediction: Marcus Hicks via second round submission
Brian Bowles (5-0) vs. Damacio "The Angel of Death" Page (10-3)
Bowles has defeated two very solid opponents (Charlie Valencia and Marcos Galvao) inside the WEC cage. He's a twenty eight year old fighter who looks to have all the tools to be a force in the bantamweight division.
His opponent Page has a little more experience, and a slight size advantage coming from fighting at 155 pounds previously. He too looks like a good prospect at 135 pounds for WEC. He boasts a nice all around game with finishing abilities both on the feet and on the ground.
This should be an exciting match up, but one I have Brain Bowles winning. "The Angel of Death" is no pushover, but Bowles has looked close to unbeatable at times lately. He's got great strength and movement, and he understands the game like a fighter who has thirty career fights, not five.
We're looking at another fight of the night candidate here, but Bowles is destined for a shot at Miguel Torres' title sooner or later. I don't see Page sidetracking him with a loss at this point.
Final prediction: Bowles via second round technical knockout
Josh "The Fluke" Grispi (8-1) vs. Micah Miller (9-1)
Younger brother of UFC fighter, Cole Miller, Micah has made a small name for himself over the past few months. He had a setback last year with a loss to Cub Swanson, but has been impressive since with two solid wins over Steve Kinnison and Chance Farrar.
Like his brother, he's tall and lanky, with good submissions and a nice striking game with crisp kicks and punches. He's a match up problem for a lot of fighters at 145 pounds, including the tough as nails, Josh Grispi.
"The Fluke" beat Mark Hominick in his WEC debut in February with a first round rear naked choke. He has a wide variety of ways to finish a fight as well, with four knockouts and four submissions to his credit. In fact, Grispi has never been out of the first round in any of his fights.
I would say Grispi is the more aggressive fighter, but Miller is the better technician. If Miller can weather the early storm and take the fight into the second and third rounds, his chances increase, but if Miller allows himself to be overwhelmed by the attack of Grispi, he could be in trouble. I just don't think Micah can come into this fight with a slow start and beat Josh Grispi.
This is another tough call, but I like Miller.
Final prediction: Miller via second round submission
The under card of this event is littered with former number one contenders and some great match ups as well. Here's a look at the rest of the card for WEC 35:
170 lbs.: Brock Larson vs. Carlo Prater
170 lbs.: Blas Avena vs. Dave Terrel
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson vs. Hiroyuki Takaya
155 lbs.: Shane Roller vs. Todd Moore
155 lbs.: Mike Budnik vs. Greg McIntyre
135 lbs.: Scott Jorgensen vs. Kenji Osawa
This should be another very good event for WEC, who has been steadily raising the bar as far as expectations go. With three title fights and a number of other quality, show stealer type of matches, this card cannot disappoint.
Remember to tune in tomorrow night to Versus at 9 p.m. ET, and don't forget to check MMAmania.com early and often for all your WEC 35 coverage.