WEC 52 Preview And Predictions

Demetrious Johnson (7-1-0) vs. Damacio Page (15-4-0)

After earning his first win in the WEC just over a month ago, Johnson steps up on short notice for an injured Eddie Wineland to face “The Angel of Death,” Damacio Page.

Nothing against Johnson, an under-sized ’35 who can’t wait to see the flyweight division come to life, but Page isn’t the kind of guy you step in against on short notice.

The only loss the Greg Jackson student has suffered inside the WEC cage came to former bantamweight champ Brian Bowles. He holds a win over current #1 contender Scott Jorgensen, and has stopped his last two opponents, needing just 80 seconds to score a pair of victories.

Johnson will need to use his incredible speed to stick-and-move, otherwise he’ll be regretting giving the WEC a helping hand here.

Chad Mendes (8-0-0) vs. Javier Vazquez (15-4-0)

The blonde-haired jiu jitsu player Vazquez is a solid talent and a pleasure to watch for those who love grappling, but this one is all about Mendes.

One of three Team Alpha Male fighters competing on the televised card, Mendes has been quickly climbing the featherweight rankings, with wins over Cub Swanson, Anthony Morrison and Eric Koch since coming to the WEC. A tremendous wrestler, Mendes offers little more than a suffocating top game, but as of yet, no one has been able to do anything about it. Vazquez is easily the toughest test of Mendes’ young career, and has earned consecutive submission victories over Mackens Semerzier and Jens Pulver.

The winner could be considered for a title shot after Jose Aldo’s defence at UFC 125.

Joseph Benavidez (12-2-0) vs. Wagnney Fabiano (14-2-0)

You can’t blame Benavidez for jumping at the opportunity to get back into the cage. Dominick Cruz won’t be his opponent, so the future flyweight has to believe he’s looking at another win, since Cruz and only Cruz has beaten the Team Alpha Male member to date.

Jokes aside, Benavidez has proven to be the second-best ’35 in the organization, beating everyone other than Cruz, including submitting Miguel Torres and pummelling Rani Yahya. A strong wrestler with good hands and energy to burn, Benavidez will test Fabiano and give the Brazilian a chance to prove he belongs in the bantamweight title picture.

A Nova Uniao black belt, Fabiano moved to 135 to avoid a meeting with teammate Jose Aldo. While he could still stumble into a fellow Nova Uniao product in Renan Barao, the former IFL champion is a few steps higher on the ladder than Barao, with a win over Benavidez probably earning Fabiano a title shot.

Brian Bowles was originally slated to square off with Fabiano, but the former champion just can’t shake the injury bug and was forced to pull out. Though Benavidez strikes me as one of those guys who walks around in fighting shape 24/7/365, coming in late at this level is dangerous, even for someone as impressive as Benavidez.

Urijah Faber (23-4-0) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (13-4-2)

Jose Aldo confirmed what many of us knew already: Faber’s days as a challenger in the featherweight division are done. Fortunately for Faber, he is able to drop the additional ten pounds required to make the bantamweight limit, and can start the next chapter of his illustrious career as a 135-pound contender.

The former featherweight champ was highly-successful at ’45 despite being a little undersized for the division; that only goes to show what kind of athleticism and skill set “The California Kid” brings to the cage. He’ll put those talents on display here tonight, with a win potentially setting up a title shot in 2011.

Mizugaki is no pushover, though, as the Japanese veteran has given both former champion Miguel Torres and current contender Scott Jorgensen all they could handle in defeat. He’s also earned a win over Jeff Curran and most recently defeated Rani Yahya back in April.

Expect to see an even more impressive Faber this time, as this will be the last time the long-time face of the WEC will fight on the blue canvas.