Wow, WEC 50 kind of came and snuck up on us, didn’t it? I’ve been a monstrous fan of the little guys ever since I watched my first event and you should to. WEC 50 takes place tonight at 9 pm on the Versus channel. As T.O. would say, get your popcorn ready.
We’ll start with the main event, a bantamweight title fight between Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz and Joseph Benevidez. This bout is actually a rematch, Cruz defeated Benevidez en route to getting his title shot against Brian Bowles. Cruz was able to stuff Benevidez’s takedown attempts and pepper him with his fantastic striking in the first fight and that will likely be the gameplan again this time around. Benevidez has come out a changed man since his loss to Cruz, finishing Ronnie Yahya and former champ Miguel Torres with ease en route to earning the rematch.
Cruz has some of the best conditioning in MMA and if he’s able to stuff Benevidez’s takedowns, this could be a long night for the challenger. I’ve got a nagging feeling though, that Benevidez will be successful when he shoots in, though, and those nagging feelings usually happen to be correct. Cruz’s lone career loss was a submission to Benevidez’s mentor Urijah Faber, who was able to use his wrestling to dominate the Dominator. If Benevidez is able to get this fight to the ground, it’s his fight to lose, if not, expect Cruz to frustrate and embarrass him for 5 straight rounds.
Prediction – Joseph Benevidez wins via submission 3rd round
The co-main event is a fascinating lightweight match between top contenders Shane Roller and Anthony Pettis. Roller is a top notch wrestler, while Pettis is more of a tall, lanky striker with submission skills. Both men are coming off impressive submission victories at the WEC 48 pay per view, Roller defeated Anthony Njukuani on the main card and Pettis dominated Alex Karalexis on the free Spike undercard.
With a win, both men will likely earn a title shot against current champ Ben Henderson. Shane Roller’s only WEC loss was to Henderson and I’m sure he’s aching for a chance to redeem himself. Pettis hasn’t quite faced as stiff of competition in the promotion yet, but he also only has one career WEC loss. This is like a hybrid of the grappler vs striker matchup because the striker (Pettis) also has fantastic jiu jitsu skills. Roller has decent submissions of his own and I feel he will be able to stifle Pettis with his wrestling and avoid those nasty submissions.
Prediction: Shane Roller via unanimous decision
Next up is a very exciting featherweight match between WEC veteran Cub Swanson and rising prospect Chad Mendez. This is an interesting matchup of not only fighters, but fight camps as well. Swanson hails from the heralded Team Jackson in Albuquerque while Mendez is one of the rising stars of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male in Sacramento.
Swanson is a well rounded fighter who’s known for being in exciting fights, having won Fight of the night in 2 of his last 3 victories. He’s also been steamrolled in the first minute of his last two losses, a 35 second submission loss to Jens Pulver and an incredible 8 second double flying knee KO to current champ Jose Aldo. Mendez is a classic Team Alpha Male style, he’s a fantastic wrestler who will look to get the fight to the ground and either pound you out or go for a submission. I think Mendez makes a statement in this fight and keeps the streak of quick Swanson defeats alive.
Prediction: Chad Mendez via submission in the first round.
In another match of very exciting bantamweights, Brad “One Punch” Pickett takes on Scott “Young Guns” Jorgenson. Both fighters have been on an absolute roll lately and the winner of this match will likely get a title shot against the winner of the main event. Pickett has been tenacious with a beautiful Peruvian necktie submission victory over Kyle Dietz and a unanimous decision victory over Demetrious Johnson at WEC 48. Jorgenson may have been on a better roll with impressive back to back to back victories over former contender Takeya Mizugaki, Chad George and Antonio Banuelos. The victory over Banuelos avenged his last WEC loss in 2009 and set up this number one contender match.
Both men are excellent grapplers, but I’ll give the advantage to Pickett in this department due to his creativity. Not many men go for a Peruvian necktie on the ground. Jorgenson is no joke either though, with top notch wrestling credentials as well as an absolutely viscous guillotine which he used to decimate Chad George at WEC 47. Jorgenson has above average striking and that should give him the advantage if the fight stays on its feet. He should also be able to use his wrestling defensively to keep the fight standing, and if Brad Pickett does attempt to shoot in for a takedown, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jorgenson locks in that nasty guillotine of his.
Prediction: Scott Jorgenson via submission in the 2nd round
Lastly, the night opens with a match of cagey veteran vs rising prospect as Bart Palaszewski welcomes Zach Micklewright to the WEC. Palaszewski has had an up and down career in the WEC but his last two victories have been very impressive against Anthony Pettis and Karen Darabedyan. Micklewright will look to stop Palaszewski’s momentum. He’s a Team Milletich guy, so you know he’ll have top notch and aggressive wrestling in his repertoire. What I’m interested in knowing is if Micklewright has good submission defense or not.
Palaszewski took a beating against Darabedyan but was able to withstand the initial onslaught and eventually work for an armbar in the first round. This fight could be very similar but I have a hunch that Micklewright will have better sub defense. If that is the case, Micklewright should be able to at least ride out a decision, if not more and stamp his place in the WEC lightweight division.
Prediction: Zach Micklewright via unanimous decision