It’s a testament to the skilled people in the WEC’s front office that this card is not only happening, but is filled with as much great talent as it is.
The show was originally scheduled for September 2 in Youngstown, Ohio, but headliner Ben Henderson suffered an injury, forcing the show to be rescheduled. It was moved to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, a fine little arena in a city with a strong base of mixed martial arts fans.
This is a show without a big name headliner. There’s no Faber, no Brown, no Torres. And yet, due to the hard work I mentioned above, it will turn out to be yet another WEC offering that pleases hardcore fight fans. It also has more implications for the WEC lightweight division than any offering in recent memory. Check out our predictions after the jump.
WEC INTERIM LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE
BENSON HENDERSON vs. DONALD CERRONE
With lightweight champion Jaime Varner on the shelf for an extended period of time, the company decided to match up top contenders Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson for the main event of this show. They also threw a little spice into the mix in the form of an interim title belt. The interim tag is ultimately meaningless in the long term, but ensures that the winner of this bout will get the first shot at Varner when he comes off the disabled list in early 2010.
Donald Cerrone is far more well rounded than Henderson and has a legitimate kickboxing pedigree to fall back on. He’s been able to lay claim to #1 contender status in the WEC for some time now, and for good reason: outside of Varner, there is nobody as polished or as well-rounded as Cerrone in the entire division. And while Henderson’s wrestling prowess certainly cannot be denied, we also can’t overlook the fact that Cerrone is no slouch on the ground. He’s got a ferocious guard and the ability to control and finish just about anyone on the ground.
Henderson’s only legitimate shot at beating Cerrone is to keep the fight standing and attempt to get inside with power punches. Logic would dictate that Henderson should try to shoot for takedowns early and often, but logic will get him finished quickly in this match. He has to move quickly to stay inside and negate the technical striking Cerrone is sure to bring.
These are two of the most offensive-minded fighters on the roster, and I think you’re going to see some fireworks here. Henderson is crowing that he’s going to shock the world and then go on to beat Varner to become the undisputed king of the division.
But I also think you’re going to see Cerrone move on and get his much-anticipated bout with Jamie Varner, whenever that happens.
PREDICTION: Donald Cerrone by TKO (round two)
RICH CRUNKILTON (16-2) VS. DAVE JANSEN (12-0)
The co-feature of the evening sees resident lightweight gatekeeper Crunkilton, impressive record and all, square off against an undefeated and relatively untested prospect in Jansen.
Crunkilton brings a very strong Greco-Roman wrestling game into the cage, a skill that he’s used to smother many opponents throughout his career. He’ll do the same to Jansen, too, if Jansen doesn’t step into the cage prepared to completely outwork Crunkilton. This bout will mark the first time Jansen has faced a wrestler the caliber of Crunkilton, and there’s no way to predict exactly how he’ll respond.
Jansen has more tools in the chest. If he can avoid getting put on his back or being pressed against the cage for long periods of time, he’ll take this fight.
PREDICTION: Dave Jansen (unanimous decision)
DAMACIO PAGE VS. WILL CAMPUZANO
Damacio Page is a violent man. In short, that’s all you really need to know going into this fight. He’s a fighter that leads with his fists and who falls back on his fists when he’s in trouble. He’s not the most technical or accurate striker in the world, but he doesn’t have to be — just witness his knockout of Marcos Galvao for further proof that Page is a scary man.
There is plenty of potential for Will Campuzano to have a great career. He’s undefeated, but he only has six fights. He’s stepping in the cage with someone who will not only knock him out, but very likely do so in terrifying fashion.
PREDICTION: Damacio Page (KO, round one)
RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO VS. YVES JABOUIN
Raphael Assuncao is one of the best jiu-jitsu players on the planet. He’s also one of the best featherweights in the WEC, and his opponent isn’t even close to that level.
Here’s the one scenario where Assuncao can lose this bout: he decides to keep the bout standing and test out his kickboxing skills. Hey, don’t laugh — we’ve seen it plenty of times in 2009 with wrestlers who suddenly decide they are elite-level strikers. It never goes well for them, either.
Assuncao will likely go for the takedown early and often in this bout, and Jabouin seems hand-picked for a submission victory. It’s going to happen, too — the only question is when.
PREDICTION: Raphal Assuncao (submission, round one)
PRELIMINARY CARD BOUTS
Anthony Njokuani vs. Muhsin Corbbrey: Njokuani by decision
Deividas Taurosevicius vs. Javier Vazquez: Vazquez by submission
Eddie Wineland vs. Manny Tapia: Tapia by TKO
Charlie Valencia vs. Coty Wheeler: Wheeler by decision
Waggney Fabiano vs. Mackens Semerzier: Fabiano by submission
Scott Jorgensen vs. Noah Thomas: Thomas by decision