WEC 53: Five Fights To Make

WEC bantamweight champion

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Five bouts we’d like to see coming out of WEC 53

Last week’s WEC 53 event was the fitting conclusion to a promotion with an almost-unmatched track record of excellence. The spectacular “Showtime Kick” unveiled by Anthony Pettis (at the expense of Ben Henderson) sent the promotion out with a bang and set the table for an exciting future as the lighter weight classes are merged into the UFC.

With that in mind, let’s play armchair matchmaker and take a look at five fights that Joe Silva and Sean Shelby should consider booking. I’m not including Pettis versus the winner of Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard, because we already know that fight is happening in 2011.

1. Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber

It’s the biggest fight available for either of the lighter weight classes at the moment. Faber is one of the more easy-going guys in the sport, but he’s got a chip on his shoulder when it comes to Cruz. For his part, Cruz is tired of being called out by Faber, and he’s probably still irked that the only loss on his record came at the hands of the California Kid. A natural grudge and the two best bantamweights in the new UFC weight class? Sounds like a recipe for a pay per view main event – especially if both fighters end up as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 13.

2. Donald Cerrone vs. Cole Miller

Cerrone’s dislike for Miller stems back to September 2007, when Miller defeated Cerrone’s teammate Leonard Garcia at Ultimate Fight Night 11. Cerrone didn’t appreciate the trash-talking Miller did after the bout, and he’s held a grudge ever since that night. Whether the animosity is real or imagined, Cerrone has been vocal in calling out the UFC lightweight, and Miller says he’s happy to oblige. It’s a step up in competition for Cerrone and the perfect litmus test to determine his standing in the new unified lightweight division.

3. Ben Henderson vs. loser of Guida/Gomi

Henderson was expected to be the flag-bearer for all WEC lightweights heading into the UFC. Instead, he finds himself on the outside looking in. Keeping with the UFC tradition of matching up guys with recent losses, I say we throw him in there with the loser of the Guida/Gomi fight that happens at UFC 125. There’s no way in hell the fight would be anything but exciting, and we’d get to find out how competition Henderson will be with mid-tier UFC lightweights. If he handles either guy with ease, it’ll be easy to start pushing him towards better competition.

4. Eddie Wineland vs. Joseph Benavidez

Benavidez scored a submission win last month over Waggney Fabiano, but finds himself without a fight lined up going into the official merger. He wanted to fight Kid Yamamoto, but that honor instead went to Demetrious Johnson, who is tasked with welcoming the Japanese superstar back to America at UFC 126. Who better to pair Benavidez with than Wineland, who knocked out Ken Stone with a dynamic (and terrifying) power bomb at WEC 53?

5. Renan Barao vs. Brad Pickett

Barao was utterly dominant in his first-round submission victory over Chris Cariaso in the opening bout of WEC 53. Whether standing or on the ground, Barao made the fight look pretty simple. It’s easy to make comparisons to Jose Aldo; after all, the pair are teammates and training partners at Nova União. But when you take a look back at his twenty-four wins in a row – and yes, I said twenty-four wins in a row – you realize that Barao is probably in need of better competition. Pickett provides a stiffer test on the feet than Barao faced in Cariaso, and you’re guaranteed an exciting fight.

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