World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is finally set for "Cerrone vs. Henderson" this Saturday night (Oct. 10) from The AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, beginning at 9 p.m. ET on the Versus network.
WEC 43 was delayed for more than one month from its original scheduled date of Sept. 2 because the promotion was forced to change locations for the event. The time has finally come ... almost.
The headlining bout will feature an interim lightweight championship showdown between Greg Jackson pupil, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, taking on up-and-coming WEC star, Ben "Smooth" Henderson. The winner will face off against injured champion Jamie Varner at a later date to unify the 155-pound title.
Former lightweight number one contender, Rich "Cleat" Crunkilton, will also make his return to the WEC cage following a string of injuries that have kept him sidelined for more than a year and a half. He'll square off with undefeated Midwest product, Dave Jansen.
There are plenty of other WEC stars who will compete on the card, too, including Raphael Assuncao, Damacio "The Angle of Death" Page, Anthony Njokuani, Wagnney Fabiano, Manny "The Mangler" Tapia and Charlie Valencia, among others.
To help get you better prepared for WEC 43, I share some quick analysis and predictions for the four main card bouts set to hit the Versus airwaves on Saturday night.
Check it out:
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (10-1) vs. Ben "Smooth" Henderson (9-1) for the WEC Interim Lightweight Title
One of the only things that worries me about this fight for Cerrone is that he seems to be already looking ahead to a rematch with Varner. If you listen to the interviews leading up to this fight, Henderson has emphatically stated that this is the only fight on his mind. On the other hand, when you listen to "Cowboy," Jamie Varner seems to be the focus of discussion.
Whether or not that will come into play on Saturday night is to be determined. However, I do know that if "Cowboy" thinks he's just going to walk through Henderson on his way to a rematch with "The Worm," he is mistaken.
He's no cupcake opponent.
With that said, I still think this is "Cowboy's" fight to win. He has superior stand-up and ground skills, as well as more experience in big fights.
Henderson has freakish athleticism, but no matter how I play this fight out in my head, "Cowboy" always comes out the winner. If he gets taken down, he's scary good off his back. If "Smooth" tries to clinch with him for most of the fight, Cerrone has excellent knee work and elbows from there. And if it turns into a kickboxing match, Cowboy's length and Muay Thai skills should prevail there, too.
Look for Henderson's heart to keep him in this fight, but I wouldn't recommend putting any money down on him. I see Cowboy winning this thing with some sort of submission in the middle rounds.
Final prediction: Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone via submission in round three
Rich Crunkilton (16-2) vs. Dave Jansen (12-0)
One would think this is a big step up in competition for Jansen, who is a promising prospect making his WEC debut. But the guy has faced some decent opposition to this point in his career. In fact, just this year alone he's fought four times, winning each of those contests against competition with a combined record of (48-18-1).
He's no rookie.
On the contrary, an argument could be made that "Cleat" is the one who will be dealing with some inexperience, or should I say cage rust, since he's been out of action for the last 19 months.
Don't get me wrong, Crunkilton has proven to be versatile and capable in the past by going the distance with Hermes Franca, knocking out Bao Quach, and outpointing Sergio Gomez at WEC 33. But I can't help but be bothered by the fact that he's been sidelined for so long because of injuries, while Jansen has fought nine times since "Cleat" last saw action.
Jansen is strong, methodical and he knows how to win fights. In short, he's going to give Crunkilton some problems. I can also see conditioning coming into play as this fight wears on because it's hard for a fighter to simulate what kind of cardio it actually takes to go non-stop for three rounds in a real fight. Training is one thing, but a fight is completely different. We've heard a million different fighters say that a million different times. There has to be some truth to it.
It probably isn't the popular opinion, but I got Jansen in a unanimous decision here.
Final prediction: Dave Jansen via unanimous decision
Damacio "The Angel of Death" Page (11-4) vs Will Campuzano (6-0)
Page -- another Greg Jackson-trained fighter -- is coming off a super explosive knockout victory over jiu-jitsu expert, Marcos Galvao, at WEC 39. His only loss in three fights with promotion is to current champion, Brian Bowles, back in August 2008.
He boasts explosive power and speed. And he can hurt you in a number of different ways because he's good with his hands and with submissions. His only noticeable weakness is that he's too aggressive sometimes, which leaves him susceptible to getting caught.
Campuzano is pretty explosive himself. He's never even been taken out of the second round by any of his six career opponents. He's finished them all by either TKO or submission. Still though, fighting in the WEC on the Versus telecast is a different animal than fighting no named opposition on small circuit fight cards.
He'll also be dealing with a hungry, well trained beast in "The Angel of Death," and his aggressive style will likely play right into the more experienced Page. Look for Damacio to come out guns blazing, looking to make a statement out of the new guy.
His last fight lasted a total of 18 seconds. It's safe to say this one will go a little bit longer than that, but how much longer is the question. I don't think this thing makes it a full five minutes.
Final prediction: Damacio "The Angel of Death" Page via technical knockout in round one
Raphael Assuncao (13-1) vs. Yves "Tiger" Jabouin (14-4)
Assuncao is a submission player who has only lost once so far in his five year mixed martial arts career -- a majority decision to Jeff Curran three years ago. He holds wins over guys like James Birdsley, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, Joe Pearson and most recently, Jameel Massouh, at WEC 40.
In short, he looks like he's the real deal.
Jabouin -- a striker making his WEC debut -- has a solid resume as well with 11 of his 14 wins coming by way of (technical) knockout. But those wins were mostly against less credible opposition than what Assuncao has faced.
Assuncao knows how to handle talented strikers, too.
He's had plenty of success with his jiu-jitsu against guys like Jabouin. That shouldn't change much in this fight either, even though "Tiger" looks to have some pretty decent submission defense, having only been forced to tapout once in his career. But realistically he hasn't faced anyone with the skill level, in terms of jiu jitsu, that he'll see on Saturday night with Assuncao.
It's always fun to watch a grappler vs. striker fight play out because it can go a number of different ways. But I look for this one to be pretty one sided in the direction of Assuncao. I'm saying second round submission, maybe an armbar, which seems to be his go-to move.
Final prediction: Raphael Assuncao via submission in round two
That’s a wrap.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide live coverage of the main card beginning with the Versus telecast at 9 p.m. ET, as well as up to the minute results of the under card action beginning at around 7 p.m. ET.
Check in early and often -- it should be an exciting night of fights. Any predictions of your own?