Welcome to another Heavy MMA roundtable preview. WEC 48 will mark the organization’s first venture into pay per view touting two title fights and headlining with two of the most exciting fighters on the planet.
Nate Lawson: Feature Writer Heavy MMA
Jeremy Botter: Lead Writer Heavy MMA
Ryan Loco: Host of The Loco Life and Feature Contributor Heavy MMA
Matt Brown: Sr. Editor Heavy MMA
1. There have been lots of rumblings about the WEC PPV card costing $44.95, the same price as a UFC event. This is a definitely pretty stacked card. Worth the price of viewing?
Lawson: I think it is definitely worth the price, but I have a hard time believing that many people are going to agree with me. However, for all those who were disappointed with throwing down 50 bones for UFC 112, the WEC hardly ever fails to entertain. With this card, I can’t imagine anyone’s going to be demanding their cash back.
Botter: If you’re a fan of actual fights, then yes, it’s worth the price of viewing. If you’re the type that pays for name value, then it’s probably not worth the price of admission. But for that $44.95, you’re virtually guaranteed to get a night full of exciting fights. WEC cards are almost always the best thing going, and this pay per view is the culmination of years of hard work, with some pristine matchmaking on display. It’ll be worth your time.
Loco: This is absolutely worth the price. I’ve said it time and time again, and even in the last roundtable. The WEC is putting on the best fights of anybody out there. Unfortunately, it’s going to be hard to get someone to pay for something that they have been getting for free this whole time. I think that a lot of people are going to be disappointed if they pass up this card. Also, you can’t really charge less, because this isn’t an inferior product to the UFC, it’s just a different one. I would pay for this PPV, but I can’t. Since I’ll be there live. HA!
Brown: The WEC is the one organization out there that delivers the goods each and every show. If someone is even remotely a fan of MMA, then this is worth inviting over some buddies, popping a few tops, and watching some of the most exciting fights you’ll ever see. Smaller cage + very high cardio levels = a fun night of mixed martial arts action.
2. There’s seven televised fights between the pay per view and the prelims on Spike TV. There doesn’t look to be a dud on the card. What fight, other than the co-main event fights, are you most excited to see?
Lawson: I am most excited about the Banuelos-Jorgensen fight simply due to the fact that the winner could end up getting the first shot at Dominick Cruz. The whole rematch thing also makes it a very intriguing match up, especially considering how close the first fight was.
Botter: Manny Gamburyan taking on Mike Brown. Gamburyan has been on a career resurgence as of late, and it’ll be interested to see if he’s ready for the kind of test someone like Mike Brown will present.
Loco: Anthony Njokuani vs Shane Roller, mostly due to the fact that Njokuani has 3 consecutive KO’s of the night. I want to see if he can keep that streak. Antonio Banuelos vs Scott Jorgensen does not have the ability to not be exciting. Brad Pickett vs Demetrius Johnson. Are you kidding me!?!? It’s impossible. Seriously, can I just list all the fights?
Brown: I’m pretty hyped to see the Banuelos vs. Jorgensen fight. Jorgensen has a very bright future in the division and a win could easily put him in line for the next title shot. Banuelos is a ball of fire and this fight could be a sleeper for Fight of the Night.
3. Does the winner of the Mike Brown and Manny Gamburyan deserve the next featherweight title shot? Who’s next in line past these guys?
Lawson: If Brown wins this fight, I would certainly give him the next featherweight shot. If Manny takes it, he would probably end up being the best option as well. However, Josh Grispi is quietly climbing up the ranks. If he defeats LC Davis at WEC 49, he could make a case for a shot at the gold.
Botter: The winner of this fight absolutely deserves the title shot. The water gets a little murky once you get past these two guys, though. Raphael Assuncao could be considered a contender, and Leonard Garcia’s exciting fight style means he’s rarely more than a win or two away from contending again.
Loco: Seems like it, which I don’t have a problem with necessarily. However, they’re going to have to do something so that it’s not just the revolving door of fight between Brown, Faber, and Aldo. LC Davis has racked up 3 straight wins in the WEC, he may be next if he is victorious again.
Brown: I think you pretty much have to go with the winner of this fight. There are a few more guys out there – L.C. Davis, Josh Grispi, Leonard Garcia – but none that jump out as a clear cut choice for a shot at the title. The WEC is good at developing talent, so I’m sure we’ll see a few 145lb guys emerge over the next year.
4. A hot topic of discussion over the last year or so has been merging the WEC and the UFC. Your thoughts?
Lawson: Merging the WEC into the UFC is definitely not a bad idea at all. At this point, it seems to be just a matter of time, and I think that time is soon. The merger would allow the UFC to put on stacked cards more often, as well as giving the underpaid fighters of the WEC a nice raise. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Botter: I’ve long been a proponent of keeping the two companies separate, and I believe that’s still a viable option. But it all depends on the buy rate of this show. If it does well and there’s a chance to do more pay per events in the future on a regular basis, then the promotion might be kept around. If it tanks, it’s going to be obvious that the best option for everybody involved — from Zuffa to the fighters — is to attach the UFC brand name to the product. Fighters will instantly be paid more. You’ll have more title fights available for UFC cards, so we won’t have to see any more bland main events. It’s a win-win for everybody involved.
Loco: While I would love to see the smaller guys in the main stage and get the shine they deserve, I really like the intimacy of the WEC shows. The smaller ring also leads to more compelling fights. I won’t be too bummed either way, but I do like the smaller weight classes having their own showcase. Unfortunately, some people take that as the WEC being inferior, which isn’t the case. Hopefully this PPV will show that the WEC can hold it’s own, and that these guys are superstars.
Brown: I’ve talked forever about the benefits of merging the WEC and UFC. For one, the UFC brand just equals more money, publicity, credibility – the list goes on and on. Secondly, it adds two additional titles to the UFC, which gives them the option of having a title fight on nearly every single pay per view. Further, I think the casual fan hardly knows the WEC and surely doesn’t know that Zuffa owns both the UFC and WEC. I think now, more than ever, it makes lots of sense.
5. Predict the Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night and Knockout of the Night.
Lawson: Fight of the Night, in my mind, will end up being Cerrone vs. Henderson. My Knockout of the Night comes from the undercard, where I expect Anthony Pettis to score a KO victory over Alex Karalexis. I don’t see a submission coming on the main card, as I’m picking Brad Pickett to get the Submission of the Night over Demetrius Johnson on the evening’s preliminary card.
Botter: Knockout of the Night will go to Jose Aldo. Fight of the Night will likely go to Cerrone and Henderson, while I believe Henderson will get the submission of the night over Cerrone in the co-main event.
Loco: Fight of the Night goes to Faber and Aldo. Scott Jorgensen picks up the Submission of the Night, via arm triangle (yeah, I’m picking the sub). And Anthony Njokuani keeps the streak alive and scores his fourth KO of the Night in a row.
Brown: I think the best bet for KO of the Night goes to Leonard Garcia or Anthony Pettis, but I’ll go with Garcia. Sub of the Night honors will go to, ready for this, Urijah Faber. I’ll be boring and say fight of the night goes to Henderson and Cerrone.
6. Dana White and the WEC constantly reinforce that the WEC is not the UFC’s kid brother. That’s easily true for the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. However, the current WEC lightweight champion is not found in any of the lightweight top ten lists. How good are Cowboy Cerrone, Ben Henderson, Anthony Njokuani and the like?
Lawson: The WEC lightweight division is certainly fun to watch, but none of the guys could handle someone on the level of Kenny Florian or BJ Penn. If the WEC and UFC merge, I would not expect guys like Henderson and Cerrone to fight for a belt, let alone hold one.
Botter: I don’t believe Henderson, even as the WEC lightweight champ, is a top ten fighter, but he’s close. The rest of the WEC lightweights trail far behind.
Loco: They are extremely talented. But unfortunately, until I see them against the big guys of the UFC, I don’t really have a barometer of their true talent level. What I do know is that if they fought against a healthy no excuses BJ Penn, I don’t think it would be too good of a night for them. However, I said that about Frankie Edgar and we know how that turned out. I want to see it happen though, the amount of fights that could happen in the UFC make my mouth water.
Brown: I really can’t tell. Off the cuff, I’d say that pretty much any UFC lightweight in the top 15 guys would easily handle the WEC guys. But Henderson and Njokuani might be able to hang with the lower of the top tier. Zuffa says that it’s not if, but when, the WEC lightweights will be rolled into the WEC, so we’ll be able to see how the guys will fare sooner than later.
7. Obviously this is a big fight for Urijah Faber. But what impact does the outcome of this fight have on his career as a whole?
Lawson: Urijah Faber is one of the most beloved fighters in the WEC and in the sport. If Aldo runs through him in the first round, “The California Kid” will still be one of the most likable characters in the sport. That being said, a quick and devastating loss to Aldo would likely mean Faber is no longer able to win at a championship level. Still, his career will always be seen as a great one.
Botter: I don’t believe Faber’s drawing power will be diminished here, even with a loss. And it’s because of that drawing power that he’ll stay near the top of the division, ready for a title shot whenever they need him.
Loco: There’s a lot of pressure of Faber for this fight. The mayor just proclaimed it Urijah Faber day. The media is out of control. But if he loses, it will be his 3rd loss in 5 fights. Who would he fight after this? I don’t know if people want to see Faber vs Brown 3 either. If Urijah wins, he’s back on the top of the heap again, and opens up a lot of fights. If he doesn’t…well, I don’t want to think about it if he doesn’t.
Brown: Dare I say that Urijah is nearly at the Chuck Liddell level of fan acceptance? Liddell has lost very little of his aura despite his rough stretch here lately. Chuck sells and I think Urijah sells too. He’s a great pitch man for Amp Energy and his personality will keep him in the limelight long after he hangs up the gloves.
Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber – Featherweight Title
Lawson: Aldo has been unstoppable throughout his career in the WEC, and picking against him is almost a crime. But if there is anyone who can top the seemingly unstoppable champion, it’s Urijah Faber. Call me crazy, but I’m going Faber via unanimous decision.
Botter: Everybody likes Urijah. Unfortunately, he should consider this a big win if he makes it out of the first round. Jose Aldo is just too good in every facet of the game. Jose Aldo by TKO, round 1.
Loco: Aldo over Faber. I think Aldo is just so dynamic, I don’t know who can beat him.
Brown: Call it a hunch, but I’m taking Faber via submission. He’s got some great MMA jiu-jitsu and has surprised guys on the ground time and time again.
Ben Henderson vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – Lightweight Title
Lawson: Henderson survived submission attempt after submission attempt the first time he fought Cerrone for a title. This time around, Cerrone will pick up the pace early and take the last three rounds. Cerrone via unanimous decision.
Botter: Ben Henderson was just a little bit better than Cerrone last time around. This time, I think the improvements he’s made to his overall game will make far better than the Cowboy. It’ll still be an exciting fight, albeit one that is far shorter than the first bout. Ben Henderson by submission, round 3.
Loco: Henderson over Cerrone This is a toss up for me. I had to go with the champ and give him the benefit of the doubt. This could go either way.
Brown: Henderson takes a tough decision win. I just don’t see either guy finishing the fight, but don’t confuse that for a boring fight. It’ll be a war.
Mike Brown vs. Manny Gamburyan
Lawson: Mike Brown wants his belt back. He demolished Morrison and, while Gamburyan is quite the step up from “Cheesesteak”, I think Brown takes this fight pretty handily. Brown via TKO in Round 2.
Botter: Gamburyan’s recent career resurgence has been inspiring, but it will come to a grinding halt at the hands of Brown. Mike Brown by decision.
Loco: Brown over Gamburyan Is this going to be the prettiest fight? Probably not. But I think Mike Brown just offers too much.
Brown: Mike Brown just seems too big and too strong to drop this fight. He says he’s been working on footwork for the first time in his career, so that can’t be good for Manny. Brown via TKO.
Anthony Njokuani vs. Shane Roller
Lawson: Njokuani has displayed some vicious striking over his last several fights, but a solid wrestler like Roller is going to be tough. Expect Roller to get the takedowns and neutralize the stand up of Njokuani. Roller via unanimous decision.
Botter: Njoukani secures a title shot with another highlight-reel knockout here. Anthony Njoukani by KO, round 2.
Loco: Njokuani over Roller Classic striker vs wrestler match up. After seeing Anthony train and knowing how focused he is, I can’t pick against him.
Brown: Roller uses his superior wrestling to keep the fight on the ground and out of Njokuani’s wheel house on the feet. Roller via decision.
Scott Jorgensen vs. Antonio Banuelos
Lawson: The first time Jorgensen and Banuelos fought, the two battled to a razor-thin decision. However, this time around Jorgensen is the much more evolved fighter. He won’t get the finish, but he will ground out a decision the same way he did against Takeya Mizuagaki. Jorgensen via unanimous decision.
Botter: It’s impossible for Jorgensen to have a boring fight, so expect this to be pretty awesome. Jorgensen wins the rematch by decision. Scott Jorgensen by decision.
Loco: Jorgensen over Banuelos. Jorgensen is such a little steam roller. This fight is going to be so much fun, but I see Jorgensen sneaking in a submission.
Brown: Jorgensen has been a wrecking machine lately. I think he’s smells a title shot and wants to make a statement. Jorgensen via TKO.