In what will be the final event EVER for the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion, WEC 53 hits the airwaves LIVE from Phoenix, AZ this Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 9pm ET/ 8pm CST. With the event location chosen by fan balloting in concert with AMP Energy, this WEC event will close the door for the critically-acclaimed WEC as its final event prior to officially merging with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2011.
To be televised on the Versus network, WEC 53 carries significant weight as it shapes up the title picture for the UFC’s soon-to-be minted lighter classes. In the co-main event at 135Ibs, Dominic Cruz defends his title against Scott Jorgensen and the winner of the bout will be recognized as the new UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Also on the card, WEC Lightweight champion Ben Henderson is set to defend his title for the final time against Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. The winner of this bout will then face the winner of UFC 125’s lightweight championship bout between champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard to unify the WEC and UFC 155ibs belts.
The rest of the main card features several standout bouts and lots of international flavor. Fireworks are sure to be set as the ever-popular Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone takes on Polish-Canadian striker Chris Horodecki. In another bout sure to interest our hometown Texan fans, Austin-resident and decorated Iranian-born wrestler Kamal Shalorus takes on the Polish-American Bart Palaszewski. Rounding off the card, “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang Tie Quan takes on Danny Downes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Below are my predictions for the WEC 53 card on December 16, 2010.
Televised Main Card – Predictions
Lightweight Championship bout: Ben Henderson (champion) vs. Anthony Pettis
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is a tough fighter, ripping off three wins in a row and finishing each one. Last winning submission of the night honors at WEC 50 against Shane Roller via triangle. Pettis brings with him an exciting arsenal of tools to this fight, both on his feet and on the ground, but Ben Henderson is just on another level IMO. Winner of his last 11, including two consecutive guillotine finishes against Donald Cerrone and Jamie Farmer, “Bendo” boasts some impressive submissions of his own and is nearly impossible to submit.
Prediction – Ben Henderson via submission to retain his belt and challenge the winner of Edgar/Maynard for the UFC Lightweight Title.
Bantamweight Championship bout: Dominick Cruz (champion) vs. Scott Jorgensen
Scott Jorgensen is a tough fighter and an enjoyable one to watch at that with two WEC fight of the night credits to his record. Jorgensen brings a strong wrestling aptitude to the table butis taking on the #1 bantamweight on the world in Dominick Cruz. Winner of his past six fights, Cruz is a strong wrestler in his own right and may be amongst the strongest fighters in this weight class. Jorgensen is a gamer but I just don’t think he has what it takes to put Cruz on his back in this one.
Prediction – Dominick Cruz via decision to become the new UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Lightweight bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki
“Cowboy” Cerrone has been in some wars as of late, making his name in bouts with a who’s who of the WEC lightweight roster. A Muay Thai specialist, he’ll likely be engaging in another war here as he takes on Chris Horodecki, a kickboxer who has an affinity for staying on his feet. Both guys are excellent in this regard with Cerrone having a slight reach advantage being the taller fighter. On the ground, Cerrone definitely has the edge and will win should the fight go there.
Prediction – Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone via TKO.
Lightweight bout: Bart Palaszewski vs. Kamal Shalorus
Kamal Shalorus (6-2) showed his mettle in his last fight, a draw against Jamie Varner which had both fighters swinging for the fences non-stop. Palaszewski (35-13) is vastly more experienced in MMA competition but does not have the wrestling acumen to compete with Shalorus in that aspect of the match. The key to be this bout will be whether the Iranian-born wrestler decides to take it to the mat or mix it up on his feet. With power in those wild hooks in addition to his impressive takedowns, he might be successful either way.
Prediction – Kamal Shalorus via TKO.
Lightweight bout: Zhang Tie Quan vs. Danny Downes
“The Mongolian World” Zhang Tie Quan entered the WEC as a much-hyped international import. The Sanshou-based fighter and purple belt in BJJ (China’s first ever purple belt) remains undefeated after defeating Pablo Garza via guillotine in his WEC debut. His opponent, Danny Downes, is coming off a submission loss to Chris Horodecki and should be another nice tune-up for Quan, who may be key to the UFC’s expansion to the far east.
Prediction – Zhang Tie Quan via submission.
Preliminary Bouts – Quick Picks
Lightweight bout: Jamie Varner vs. Shane Roller
Bantamweight bout: Brad Pickett vs. Ivan Menjivar
Bantamweight bout: Eddie Wineland vs. Ken Stone
Lightweight bout: Danny Castillo vs. Will Kerr
Lightweight bout: Ricardo Lamas vs. Yuri Alcantara
Bantamweight bout: Renan Barão vs. Chris Cariaso