WEC 48 Picks: The Two Best Featherweights of the World Collide

Sterling SpiarsAnalyst IApril 22, 2010

The idea of Pay-Per-View has been tossed around inside the walls of the WEC for some time now. WEC president Reed Harris has finally found the right moment to make the big step into the PPV world with this coming Saturday's WEC 48.

Usually known for putting on exciting shows (which usually surpass any UFC event in the opinion of a few) on the Versus Sports network, the WEC may take a hit in the amount of viewers they receive this time around.

Face it, fans are spoiled. When they are accustomed to watching events like WEC for free on cable television, they feel that they shouldn't have to cough up a half a Benjamin to watch the next event, regardless of the amount of star power it holds.

When it came to deciding on who will fight on the WEC's first PPV event, Harris wasted no time in filling the card with his premier fighters. For those in the know, WEC 48 could possibly be known as the greatest fight card of the year.

In an attempt to further convince fans into purchasing this event, Zuffa has replaced the normal WEC crew with a few familiar faces as Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg will be doing the commentary, as well as having Bruce Buffer hype the crowd with his entrancing vocals.

If you want a guaranteed night of exciting fights, don't miss WEC 48.



Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber

"The California Kid" Urijah Faber was once unbeatable at 145 pounds. At one point as the WEC featherweight champion, Faber had won 21 of 22 fights with his lone loss coming in a lightweight bout against UFC fighter Tyson Griffin.

With an unorthodox and lightning quick stand up, Faber won the WEC crown and defended it in five consecutive fights before the first of his two showdowns with Mike Thomas Brown.

In the first fight, Faber just got reckless against a technical striker and quickly found himself out of the limelight as Brown walked away with the championship.

The second time around, Faber fought well but lost both of his hands due to an injuries early in the fight. Showing the grit and determination of a champion, Faber gutted it out but ultimately lost by decision.

Receiving a second chance to reclaim his glory, in front of his hometown of Sacramento no less, Faber will undoubtedly come in more prepared for this fight than he has ever been before.

His unusual striking style may be hit or miss for him against his opponent Jose Aldo. It could either throw the champion off enough to find a finish, or it may send him straight into a devastating blow similar to Faber's first fight with Mike Brown.

Or it could open up a takedown on Aldo, which could be another catch 22 for Faber.

Since he's been knocking out people left and right, the WEC featherweight champion Aldo is often over-looked in his ground game.

He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt training out of Team Black House with the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva, and Lyoto Machida. His training partners are world-class fighters and should give him a slight edge over Faber's crew of Team Alpha Male.

Aldo showed how powerful his ground attack can be when he stole the title from Mike Brown in his last fight. Once Aldo obtained the back mount position with his hooks in, the powerful Brown had no way of escaping and was forced to cover up until the referee stepped in.

Then again, despite having a black belt, Aldo's ground game is still a question mark because his striking has just been too good.

With a brutal Muay Thai attack revolving around his speed, the type of speed that makes even Faber look slow, Aldo has finished all six of his opponents inside the WEC and won knockout of the night honors three times.

People want to talk about the unorthodox style of Faber, which is fair, but Aldo comes in with a very diverse and unpredictable attack as well. Remember the double flying knees he unveiled against Cub Swanson?

All in all, this could be a very close match up between the two. That being said, it is in this writer's opinion that Aldo is much faster and much more diverse in every aspect of the fight game to lose to Faber.

The Sacramento crowd will be driving home in disappointment as their hometown hero tastes defeat via knockout.

Winner—Jose Aldo


Benson Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone

This is the much-anticipated rematch that stems from their high-octane five round war from last October. For those of you who haven't seen the original battle, do yourself a favor and scour the Internet for the video.

Before the first fight, many had predicted a quick finish for Donald Cerrone, and in the first round, it appeared to be so.

Cerrone caught Ben Henderson in an early guillotine and quickly transitioned between other submissions as Henderson wouldn't tap, as if he was made of rubber.

Surviving the submission scare, Henderson unleashed three rounds of ground and pound as Cerrone struggled to find his rhythm.

However, once he did, Cerrone put a hurting on the face of Henderson with a number of shots. He also sunk in a few more submissions that had fans at home tapping out due to the pain.

But the "Rubberband Man" didn't tap and the fight went to decision. In a closely-contested back-and-forth war, nobody was sure who the victor was, but in the end, three rounds of the ground attack exerted by Henderson was enough to earn him the nod.

Six months later, Cerrone looks to avenge his loss in his third crack at the WEC's lightweight championship. Will the third time be the charm?

It very well could be if Cerrone continues to improve as he has in the past.

A lot of people, including Henderson, know that Cerrone's submission game is lethal. If a fighter leaves a slight opening, the man known as Cowboy is quick and slick enough to have them tapping out moments later.

He is also an accomplished kickboxer who boasts an undefeated record in kickboxing competition.

He mixes up his combinations with speedy and somewhat surprising footwork. Add in the fact that Cerrone can take a punch, even as he's pressing the action, and this makes him a very dangerous fighter.

But, there are two things that have always held Cerrone back.

First, he is a notoriously slow fighter to start. He likes to take his time in finding his opponent's rhythm and range, which has cost him in the past.

Secondly, his takedown defense is pretty bad. It's gotten better as he continues to fight, but not good enough to be a champion in a division that's filled with strong wrestlers.

His opponent, Benson Henderson is about as strong as they come in the WEC's lightweight division.

Since joining the WEC last year, the wrestler was thrown to the sharks from the get-go but was unfazed as he fought his way to the title.

The game-plan was always very simple, yet highly effective: to get past the striking range and score the takedown. Once this happened, patiently grapple and strike until an opening presents itself and then finish the fight.

Henderson's foes know this attack, but all of his WEC foes have been unable to prevent it from happening.

Already known for his excellent grappling skills, fans have often shrugged their shoulders towards his striking.

While he will be at a disadvantage on the feet against Cerrone, Henderson has been steadily working on his stand up. Seeing as how Henderson absorbs knowledge like a sponge and is constantly improving, don't be surprised if Henderson catches Cerrone off guard with his striking.

Even still, this fight will likely have a very similar feel to their last war, only this time there will be some slight variations to each attack. The question is, who has improved more?

Both fighters get better every time out, but Henderson seems to be adding a larger arsenal to his attack more so than Cerrone.

Winner—Benson Henderson


Mike Brown vs. Manny Gamburyan

It seems like very few people are giving Manny Gamburyan a chance to win this fight. While many are giving logical reasons on why they believe Mike Brown will win, it seems like there are quite a few who are basing their picks off of name recognition.

Maybe they had already forgotten about Gamburyan's time spent with WEC's sister promotion, the UFC.

Maybe they had forgotten that he was a TUF season five finalist that was well on his way to winning the contract before a takedown attempt dislocated his shoulder and forced him to tap.

The only fights that Gamburyan has lost in his career were to much larger, established UFC fighters: Sean Sherk, Nathan Diaz, Rob Emerson, and Thiago Tavares.

Finally, Gamburyan has dropped to a weight that suits his frame better. While the weight cut has sapped his strength some, Gamburyan still has the power to rattle the brain of his opponents.

Also, his Judo techniques are much more effective against other featherweight fighters. He doesn't have to use as much strength to score his takedowns.

Since dropping the pounds and joining the WEC, Gamburyan has come into his fights with a smart plan of attack against two dangerous fighters. Will this trend continue?

If Gamburyan wants the victory, it's going to have to continue. He can't come in with a sloppy game-plan against the former WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown.

Brown became an established 145 pound fighter after defeating Urijah Faber, not once, but twice. The second fight with Faber was the last of his 10-fight win streak before he fell prey to the current champion Jose Aldo.

Very versatile in his game, Brown feels comfortable in just about any area that the fight takes him.

On the feet, Brown's boxing is very crisp and powerful, and he can launch counter strikes before his opponent can react. This time around, Brown actually has the size and reach advantage, which will make his striking that much more efficient.

If Brown finds himself at a disadvantage in the stand up war, his low base and core strength is more than enough to muscle Gamburyan to the mat. From top control, Brown's base can keep him in a secure position to ground out the victory.

Manny Gamburyan can pull of the victory, but Brown is just too technical in his strengths.

Winner—Mike Brown


Anthony Njokuani vs. Shane Roller

Shane Roller could be considered the dark horse of the WEC's lightweight division. While fans are going off about Henderson, Cerrone, Jamie Varner, and even his next opponent of Anthony Njokuani, Roller has quietly gone 4-1 inside the WEC's cage.

Roller's lone loss with the WEC came against a superior wrestler and current champion Benson Henderson, who stuffed his takedowns and forced Roller out of his element.

While Roller can mix up his combinations somewhat, the stand up game is not his realm.

He prefers to get the takedown early and control his opponents on the ground. If he can do that, there is a good chance that the WEC lightweight dark horse can steal another victory.

But scoring the takedown is a big if.

It's not that it isn't possible because Anthony Njokuani's wrestling is very suspect, but it's a matter of getting past the reach and following through.

Njokuani's striking is so dangerous, and some would consider it the most nefarious of the WEC's lightweight division.

His range is by far the best in the WEC, and the speed and technique that he adds to it only makes things worse for his opponents.

However, Njokuani's Muay Thai knees may not be a major factor in the early part of the fight for fear of a takedown by Roller. Besides that, Njokuani should be able to utilize his reach advantage and keep Roller at bay with his heavy hands and legs.

With a chance to redeem one of his two losses against the winner of Cerrone and Henderson, expect Njokuani to come out with a passive-aggressive attack and end Roller's night early.

Winner—Anthony Njokuani


Antonio Banuelos vs. Scott Jorgensen

The fans of Scott Jorgensen have been waiting for this rematch for some time. The first fight was a close three round battle that eventually saw Antonio Banuelos with his hand raised at the end.

While Banuelos started off fast with an efficient boxing attack, he began to fade as Jorgensen picked up the pace. When the final bell sounded, many believed that Jorgensen did enough to earn the nod, but the judges saw things differently.

Regardless, the rematch is finally happening ten months later as the opening bout for WEC's first PPV.

A veteran of the WEC with 12 fights, Banuelos got to where he is today with a good mix of wrestling and boxing.

Often labeled as the underdog heading into his fights, Banuelos has managed to keep his name inside the walls of the WEC by controlling fights on the feet with decent footwork.

If he feels out-classed in a stand up exchange, he'll switch levels and use his low center of gravity to rip his opponent's legs from underneath them and unleash punches and elbows from there.

Either way, he loves to finish by some sort of strike and rarely goes for submissions. His opponent on the other hand feels differently.

Scott Jorgensen is a complete fighter in the WEC's bantamweight division. If it's a stand up war, he'll oblige. If it's a grappling exchange, he'll oblige.

Usually known for his grappling and submission skills, Jorgensen has no fear of letting it all hang out while throwing bombs to please the fans. Luckily for him, he has a solid chin that can take punishment, or else he would of succumbed to powerful strikers such as Damicio Page.

It's this balls to the wall attitude that probably cost him in his first fight against Banuelos. Expect Jorgensen to implement his game-plan this time around as opposed to Banuelos' game-plan.

While Jorgensen has struggled to work his way up towards a title shot, he's always managed to keep his name in the mix with exciting finishes.

Now he's at a point with three consecutive victories and searching for his fourth. With a finish here, there's no doubt that Jorgensen will be the first to test out Dominick Cruz's newly-claimed bantamweight championship.

Winner—Scott Jorgensen



Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung

Winner—Chan Sung Jung


Alex Karalexis vs. Anthony Pettis

Winner—Anthony Pettis


Demetrious Johnson vs. Brad Pickett

Winner—Brad Pickett


Chad Mendes vs. Anthony Morrison

Winner—Anthony Morrison


Takeya Mizugaki vs. Rani Yahya

Winner—Rani Yahya


Tyler Toner vs. Brandon Visher

Winner—Brandon Visher



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