After a location change and a injury to Ben Henderson, all while being stuck in the middle of a feud between the Versus network and satellite provider DirecTV, WEC 43 turned out to be one of the better MMA fight cards of the year.
The champions of each division are ranked at the top with each of the top contenders 1-10 ranked accordingly.
The following rankings were originally posted at ULTMMA.com
Lightweight (155-pound limit)
WEC Champion: Jamie Varner 16-2
1. Ben Henderson 10-1 *Interim Champion*
2. Anthony Njokuani 11-2
3. Donald Cerrone 10-2
4. Rob McCullough 17-5
5. Shane Roller 6-2
6. Danny Castillo 8-1
7. Dave Jansen 13-0
8. Anthony Pettis 7-0
9. Ed Ratcliff 7-1
10. Ricardo Lamas 6-1
The Lightweight division now has a clear-cut No. 1 contender after Ben Henderson eked out a decision victory over Donald Cerrone. The five-round fight for the interim lightweight title is already being labeled as a fight of the year nominee.
With Varner and Henderson at the top of the ladder, the rest of the division is full of a batch of solid contenders. Striker Anthony Njokuani and wrestler Shane Roller are both rebounding after close losses to Henderson. Roller is matched up with fast-rising Danny Castillo at WEC 44, while Njokuani has put away Bart Palaszewski and Muhsin Corbbrey in last two outings.
A pair of undefeated prospects enters the weight class with high hopes, as former University of Oregon wrestler Dave Jansen impressed in his WEC debut by outworking Rich Crunkilton at WEC 43. Anthony Pettis gets his shot at glory when he takes on former 155-pound title holder Rob McCullough at WEC 44.
Featherweight (145-pound limit)
WEC Champion: Mike Thomas Brown 22-4—WEC 44 vs. Jose Aldo
1. Jose Aldo 15-1—WEC 44 vs. Mike Thomas Brown
2. Urijah Faber 22-3
3. Leonard Garcia 13-4
4. Rafael Assuncao 14-1
5. Josh Grispi 13-1
6. Wagnney Fabiano 12-2
7. Diego Nunes 13-0
8. Mackens Semerzier 4-0
9. L.C. Davis 14-2
10. Manny Gamburyan 9-4
Mike Brown is the undisputed featherweight king. Brazilian Jose Aldo is next in line at 15-1 and will take on Brown at WEC 44 in November.
Top contender Wagnney Fabiano may be forced to move down to bantamweight if friend Aldo takes the title, as the two have stated in the past they will not fight one another.
With two losses to Mike Brown already, Urijah Faber is also in a tough spot serving as a high-profile gatekeeper to other featherweights. It will be interesting to see who the WEC matches Faber up with next.
The undercard of WEC 44 features up and comers L.C. Davis and Diego Nunes going head to head, as well as UFC veterans Leonard Garcia and Manny Gamburyan battling for placement in the featherweight title picture.
Bantamweight (135-pound limit)
WEC Champion: Brian Bowles 8-0
1. Dominick Cruz 14-1
2. Miguel Torres 37-2
3. Joseph Benavidez 10-1
4. Takeya Mizugaki 12-3-2
5. Rani Yahya 15-4
6. Akitoshi Tamura 14-7-2
7. Damacio Page 12-4
8. Frank Gomez 7-1
9. Jeff Curran 29-12-1
10. Eddie Wineland 16-5-1
Undefeated 8-0 Brian Bowles shocked the MMA world with his TKO win over former champion Miguel Torres at WEC 42. Looks like WEC officials are leaning towards Dominick Cruz getting the first crack at Bowles.
Cruz handed Joseph Benavidez his first loss of his career at WEC 42. Torres’ reputation could also earn him an immediate rematch, though one more fight versus a top contender like Takeya Mizugaki or Rani Yahya would really help sort out the top tier of the 135-pound division.
Tommy Messano is the editor-in-chief of www.ultmma.com.
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