WEC 44 Fight Week Previews: The Main Card
Hard to believe that it was just over a year ago that Mike Brown shocked the WEC by sending then-Featherweight champion Urijah Faber crashing to the mat with a well-placed punch, claiming the championship and a place atop the divisional rankings.
Still, that hasn't stopped some from refusing to give Brown the respect he rightfully deserves, as many are looking to tomorrow night's challenger, Jose Aldo, as the man to end the reign of the blue-collar champion with the motor that won't quit.
Before breaking down the main event, three other main card bouts deserve some discussion, so let's get to it.
Danny Castillo (8-1-0) vs. Shane Roller (6-2-0)
As is often the case when two solid wrestlers meet in the cage, it could come down to who has the better stand-up game.
Castillo is a training partner of Urijah Faber with Team Alpha Male, while Roller has followed fellow Oklahoma State All-Americans Jake Rosholt and Johny Hendricks to Team Takedown.
If it does go to the ground, it's advantage Roller, as he's shown the better submission game since entering the WEC. That being said, if it stays standing, Castillo packs a punch, as witnessed by his TKO win over Ricardo Lamas last time out.
"Razor" Rob McCullough (17-5-0) vs. Kare Darabedyan (8-1-0)
McCullough is a former WEC lightweight champion and possesses outstanding Muay Thai. Darabedyan is a training partner of fellow Armenian-American Mixed Martial Arts veterans Karo "The Heat" Parisyan and Manvel "The Anvil" Gamburyan.
While "Razor" Rob has the edge in experience, Darabedyan owns a black belt in judo and a knockout win over Bellator competitor Estevan Payan last time out, so do not think this is a walk in the park for the former champ.
Manny Gamburyan (11-5-0) vs. Leonard Garcia (17-4-0)
Gamburyan makes his second appearance at 145 in the WEC and gets a stiff test in the shape former title contender and Greg Jackson student Leonard Garcia.
Gamburyan looked solid in handing John Franchi the first loss of his career in his featherweight debut, while Garcia bounced back from his loss to Mike Brown with a split decision victory over Jameel Massouh.
As always, the key will be who dictates the fight: Gamburyan will look to keep in on the ground and grind out a win, while Garcia will be letting his heavy hands fly early and often as long as the fight remains standing.
Champion Mike Brown (22-4-0) vs. Challenger Jose Aldo (15-1-0)
Aldo has certainly been impressive since joining the WEC.
His most recent win was a highlight reel double flying knee to the head of Cub Swanson. He's lighting quick and his striking isamong the most dynamic in the sport.
That being said, he's never faced a challenge remotely as tough as Mike Brown.
The champ not only fought a tougher road to get his first title shot, beating veteran Jeff "Big Frog" Curran, but subsequently stopped the equally-dynamic former champion Urijah Faber in claiming the title.
Since then, he's stopped Leonard Garcia and earned a second consecutive win over Faber, pushing his winning streak to ten and cementing his place on a number of Pound-for-Pound lists.
One thing is for certain for Wednesday night's main event: one way or another, there's going to be fireworks.
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