This coming Sunday the WEC is back in business as they return to Las Vegas for the first time since December. This card features a bantamweight championship bout between Miguel Torres and Brian Bowles that was supposed to take place back in April before Bowles got hurt.
Also on the card are top bantamweights Takeya Mizugaki, Joeseph Benavidez, and Rani Yahya, along with top featherweight Leonard Garcia.
Let's break down the card:
Miguel Torres vs. Brian Bowles
Torres is 37-1, 5-0 in the WEC, with 29 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with great muay thai. Bowles is 7-0, 4-0 in the WEC, with all seven wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with good boxing.
This should be a great match-up. Bowles has the size and wrestling advantage, while Torres will have the stand up and jiu jitsu advantage.
I like Torres' experience in this fight, as he has fought the best in the world and has a ton of cage experience. This will be Bowles' first dive into the deep water.
Torres, simply put, is a wrecking ball of a fighter. He keeps a non-stop pace that is very hard for fighters to keep up with and I can't imagine Bowles being able to do what really no one else has done. I think Bowles will put up a good fight, but ultimately Torres should come out the winner.
I'm picking Torres to give Bowles his first loss by submission in the third round.
Jeff Curran vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Curran is 29-12-1, 2-3 in the WEC, with 19 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with some boxing skills. Mizugaki is 11-3-2, 0-1 in the WEC, with five wins by stoppage. He is a striker.
This is a good striker vs. grappler matchup. Mizugaki put up an excellent effort against the best fighter in the division (Torres) his last time out, and I don't see Curran testing him like that. Curran can be dangerous if the fight goes to the ground, but I see Mizugaki earning a decision victory.
Curran really needs to win this fight. It will be interesting to see what happens to him should he lose his fourth in a row in the WEC, even at a different weight class than which he started.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dominick Cruz
Benavidez is 10-0, 2-0 in the WEC, with eight wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with some striking ability. Cruz is 13-1, 3-1 in the WEC, with six wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with heavy hands.
This is another solid striker vs. grappler match up and this is a great bantamweight fight. I like Benavidez due to his better striking and his competent grappling. I'm picking Benavidez to win by submission in the second round.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Danny Castillo
Lamas is 6-0, 1-0 in the WEC, with three wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with solid hands. Castillo is 7-1, 2-1 in the WEC, with six wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with decent striking.
I'm not sure how this fight made the main card with fighters like Leonard Garcia and Rani Yahya on the undercard but so be it. I think Castillo is the better grappler so I'm going to give him the slight edge in this fight even though these guys are similar. I'm picking Castillo to give Lamas his first loss by decision.
Leonard Garcia vs. Jameel Massouh
Garcia is 12-4, 3-1 in the WEC, with all 12 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with good hands who likes to brawl. Massouh is 21-5, 0-1 in the WEC, with 17 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with decent striking.
As long as Garcia plays it smart, he should have the edge here. If he gets into a brawl, who knows what could happen? My guess though is that coming off a devastating loss to Mike Brown for the title, Garcia wants to get back on track in the worst way.
The WEC is not doing Massouh any favors by matching him up with Garcia after having to fight Rafael Assuncao (another top featherweight). I don't see it getting any better for Massouh this time around, either. I'm picking Garcia to win by submission in the second round.
Marcus Hicks vs. Shane Roller
Hicks is 8-2, 3-2 in the WEC, with all eight wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with decent striking. Roller is 5-2, 2-1 in the WEC, with all five wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler.
Hicks has gatekeeper written all over him. Unfortunately for Roller, I don't see him as a top contender, so I'm saying the gate stays closed for him. I'm picking Hicks by TKO in the second round.
Rani Yahya vs. John Hosman
Yahya is 13-4, 3-1 in the WEC, with 12 wins by submission. He is a jiu jitsu fighter. Hosman is 13-4-1, making his WEC debut, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with decent hands.
This is a very tough debut for Hosman going up against a monster of a grappler. Even though Hosman has a solid submission game, he is also prone to being tapped out. That is not good when you go up against Yahya. I'm picking Yahya by submission in the first round.
Fredson Paixao vs. Cole Provine
Paixao is 8-3, 0-1 in the WEC, with five wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter. Province is 5-1, 0-1 in the WEC, with four wins by submission. He is a grappler.
Both of these guys want this fight on the ground and I doubt either of them are willing to stand so as to not fight against the other guy's strength. If Province can use his wrestling to negate Paixao's jiu jitsu and maintain top control he should get the win. I'm going to say that will be the case and pick Province to win by decision.
Diego Nunes vs. Rafael Dias
Nunes is 12-0, 1-0 in the WEC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He has good jiu jitsu with good kickboxing. Dias is 12-5-1, 1-1 in the WEC, with nine wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with decent hands.
Nunes has a more well-rounded game and I would expect him to try and keep the fight standing where he has a more distinct advantage. I'm picking Nunes to win by TKO in the second round.
Ed Ratcliff vs. Phil Cardella
Ratcliff is 6-1, 2-1 in the WEC, with all six wins by stoppage. He is a striker with some submissions. Cardella is 8-3, 0-1 in the WEC, with seven wins by submission. He is a jiu jitsu fighter.
This is a good striker vs. grappler match-up. If Cardella can get the fight to the ground, he should win—but he's got to get it there first. This is a tough fight to call, but I'm going to pick Ratcliff to pull out the win by decision.
Javier Vazquez vs. LC Davis
Vazquez is 13-2, making his WEC debut, with nine wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter. Davis is 13-2, also making his WEC debut, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with solid submissions and striking.
This fight was supposed to be an undercard fight at Affliction Trilogy until the whole organization folded. Both of these guys are good fighters and it's a tough fight to pick. However, I like how well-rounded Davis is and I like his ability to control where the fight takes place with his wrestling.
If Davis is smart he'll use his wrestling to keep the fight standing, where he has the advantage. I Like Davis to win a tough decision.