After a brief hiatus, The Weigh-In is back in action for WEC 47 Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio.
Here's the way it works:
The day before the event, the fighters step on the scales for the weigh-in.
For each major event, I'll do the same, except instead of stepping on a scale and scaring the women and children, this version of The Weigh-In will break down the card so you know what to watch for on fight night.
Brian Bowles (8-0-0) vs. Dominick Cruz (14-1-0) for the WEC Bantamweight Title
It's been nearly seven months since Brian Bowles shocked fight fans the world over with his first-round upset of Miguel Angel Torres at WEC 42. Now that his broken hand is fully healed and he's ready to return to the cage, his first title defense comes against a very tough Dominick Cruz.
Obviously, the champion is the favorite, and with good reason. All Bowles has done in his eight professional fights is stop each man who has stood opposite him in the cage. That list includes a who's who of talent in the WEC 135-pound class—Torres, Damacio Page, Marcos Galvao, Will Ribiero, and Charlie Valencia.
Fighting out of The HardCore Gym in Athens, Georgia, you can be sure that coaches Adam and Rory Singer will have Bowles ready for war on Saturday night.
But Cruz is not a man to be taken lightly. He earned his place in this title fight with four straight wins after dropping to bantamweight in June 2008. Last time out, he handed Joseph Benavidez the first loss of his career by maintaining dominant position and using his length to his advantage.
The only blemish on his otherwise pristine record is a loss to Benavidez's friend and training partner Urijah Faber. That bout was contested at 145-pounds and was for the WEC Featherweight title. It was also Cruz's first time under the bright lights of the WEC.
Miguel Angel Torres (36-2-0) vs. Joseph Benavidez (11-1-0)
Torres returns to the ring for the first time since losing his coveted title to Bowles back in August. He's switched up his entire training team, joining forces with Kru Mark DellaGrote and Team Sityodtong in Boston for this fight.
The long-time champion will be looking to make a statement Saturday night. In a business where your last result is the only one that matters, Torres' lengthy title run and unbeaten streak are both memories, replaced by the words "former champion" and a second tick in the loss column.
He'll face a stern test in Team Alpha Male member Benavidez. Like all of his teammates, Benavidez possesses strong wrestling, a varied striking attack, and cardio for days. Last time out, everyone wondered what the wrestler would do against Rani Yahya, a jiu jitsu machine at home on the ground.
Instead of going to the ground and trying his luck, Benavidez stopped Yahya with a series of punches before the clock reached the two-minute mark.
Expect fireworks in this one.
Jens Pulver (22-12-1) vs. Javier Vasquez (13-3-0)
This is the most interesting bout on the card, at least for me.
I am a life-long Jens Pulver fan, so getting to see "Lil' Evil" return to the cage and throw down again is awesome. Hearing Pulver declare himself ready to roll and in better shape—both mentally and physically—than he's been in for quite some time has me full of nervous energy.
As is the theme for the evening, the opposition is stiff for the more recognizable member of the pairings.
Javier Vasquez is no joke. Since debuting in the WEC, the Cuban-American has gone the distance with both Deividas Taurosevicius and L.C. Davis, and come away on the wrong side of two split decisions.
This will be a serious test for the veteran Pulver, and a chance to show those who think he should retire that there is still some fight left in the first UFC Lightweight champion.
Deividas Taurosevicius (12-3-0) vs. L.C. Davis (15-2-0)
The two men who have beaten the aforementioned Javier Vasquez will get in the ring ahead of him this time around in an effort to take another step up the Featherweight ladder.
Relying on outstanding wrestling and positional control, Taurosevicius is a handful to deal with. He dominated Mackens Semerzier last time out and has won eight-of-nine, including wins over Bart Palaszewski, Dan Lauzon, and Anthony "Cheesesteak" Morrison.
Davis, a former Miletich Fighting Systems student, is no slouch either.
The two losses on his record came at the hands of Wagnney Fabiano and Michihiro Omigawa. The former claimed the IFL Featherweight title with the win, while the later is currently ranked sixth in the world in the weight class.
If you like grappling, this one is for you. If not, now would be a good time to grab a snack.
Bart Palaszewski (32-13-0) vs. Karen Darabedyan (9-1-0)
When you're a black belt in judo, karate, and tae kwon do and win your WEC debut by beating former Lightweight champ "Razor" Rob McCullough, you have my attention.
Karen Darabedyan is the Armenian judoka who earned a split decision win over McCullough at WEC 44, and looks to add to his WEC success by beating another grizzled veteran in Bart Palaszewski.
I had a chance to speak with Palaszewski last weekend, and in addition to being hugely entertaining, he's also ready to start putting together some wins and get back on track in the WEC.
He earned a split decision victory over Anthony Pettis in his last bout and wants to reclaim the form he showed between August 2005 and August 2007, a two-year stretch that saw "Bartimus" go an impressive 14-1-0.
Scott Jorgensen (8-3-0) vs. Chad George (11-4-0)
The kid with the crazy hair, numerous tattoos, and leopard-print skin returns to action on Saturday night, as Scott Jorgensen aims to keep on his march to the Featherweight title.
For those currently aghast at my description of Jorgensen, don't worry—we joked about all three of those things and more last weekend in putting together this feature for MMA Madness .
While some consider the Boise State product the forgotten man in the featherweight division, Jorgensen isn't concerned. He just wants to win another fight and go get more ink. He's already got an appointment made for after the fight.
His opponent, Chad George, is a submission specialist who earned a unanimous decision win in his WEC debut and has won six consecutive fights.
Jorgensen will be a big step up in competition for "The Savage," but it takes a lot more than luck to come away from your first fifteen fights with just four losses, so expect George to be up to the challenge on Saturday night.
Chad Mendes (5-0-0) vs. Eric Koch (9-0-0)
This is the fight seriously addicted freaks like myself are anxiously awaiting. Two undefeated youngsters going head-to-head.
Mendes is another member of the San Diego-based Team Alpha Male. On a team dominated by strong wrestlers, Mendes might be the best of the bunch, and that is saying a lot.
He's debuting in the WEC with this fight after earning five wins in the Palace Fighting Championships organization. Working with WEC veterans like Urijah Faber, Danny Castillo, and Joseph Benavidez will certainly help Mendes be prepared for his big stage debut.
Eric Koch is a tough kid from Iowa who earned eight-straight victories on the tough Iowa / Illinois / Wisconsin circuit before debuting in the WEC with a unanimous decision win over Jameel Massouh.
A submission specialist, Koch would normally be at home on the ground, but it's hard to say how comfortable he'll feel with Chad Mendes working for positions and trying to ensure that Koch is the one leaving with a loss.
Danny Castillo (8-2-0) vs. Anthony Pettis (7-1-0)
Yet another member of the Alpha Male brigade takes the stage, as Danny Castillo looks to rebound from a tough loss to Shane Roller at WEC 44.
After controlling a good portion of the fight, Roller was able to take Castillo's back and sink in a rear naked choke, leaving Castillo in danger of acquiring a second consecutive loss.
Anthony Pettis is in the same position. In speaking with him over the weekend for a feature at MMA Madness , he made it clear that the prospect of a second straight loss is a big motivator heading into Saturday night.
Fully healed from September shoulder surgery, Pettis dropped a close split decision to Bart Palaszewski in December, the first loss of his career. "Showtime" has no interest in feeling the pain of losing every again.
Leonard Garcia (13-5-0) vs. George Roop (10-6-0)
A member of Team Jackson, Garcia is a power puncher who has alternated between wins and losses over his last four fights. He's coming off a loss.
More important in determining the outcome of this fight than any coincidental patterns stemming from his results is the fact that "Bad Boy" will be facing a last minute replacement in former TUF contestant George Roop.
Garcia has a ton of power and likes to swing for the fences, a strategy that behooves Roop to use his length to his advantage and bring the fight to the floor as quickly as possible.
This will be a jump back up in weight for Roop, who fought for the UFC as a lightweight before competing as a featherweight in an Arizona Rage in the Cage event and debuting in the WEC as a bantamweight in January.
Fredson Paixao (8-3-0, 1 NC) vs. Courtney Buck (6-2-0)
Courtney Buck steps in as a late replacement for Brian Caraway, and gets to deal with a strong grappler in Fredson Paixao.
Buck lost his WEC debut in December to undefeated Brandon Visher. Prior to that bout, he had put together a six-fight winning streak in his home state of Minnesota.
Paixao is much tougher than his record indicates. A BJJ black belt and member of the Gracie Barra Fight Team, his three losses have come against solid opposition (Yoshiro Maeda, Marcos Galvao, and Wagnney Fabiano).
Thus far, Paixao hasn't been able to accurately translate his outstanding grapppling into the cage.
Ricardo Lamas (7-1-0) vs. Bendy Casimir (19-5-2)
Lamas is somewhat of a forgotten man in the WEC featherweight fold. He debuted on just a week's notice against Bart Palaszewski at WEC 39, and used his strong wrestling base to upset the IFL veteran.
A big time knockout courtesy of Danny Castillo may be the cause for the amnesia about Lamas, but he's since returned to the winner's circle by beating a tough James Krause at WEC 44.
Bendy Casimir is a French veteran who could certainly surprise a few people on Saturday's opening bout, including Lamas.
He's fought all over the map on the other side of the Atlantic, and holds a win over TUF 8 finalist and UFC rising star Andre Winner.
While Lamas likes to utilize his wrestling to control his fights, Casimir has a slick submission game and won't hesitate to snatch an errant arm or neck if left unprotected.
As always, the WEC is offering up an outstanding card.
If you're a fight fan and you don't have plans for Saturday night, there is no way you should miss WEC 47.
And if you've got plans, set your DVR because you won't want to miss this event.