Posts Tagged ‘WEC’

Cerrone taps Horodecki in second round at WEC 53, wants Cole Miller

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Shalorus edges Palaszewski via split decision at WEC 53

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WEC 53 prelims feature five first-round finishes, including Roller over Varner

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UFC Champion Frankie Edgar Talks Maynard, Effects of the WEC merger, & Respect

(photo courtesy of midatlanticmma.tv)

MMADieHards.com catches up with UFC Champion Frankie Edgar at Ricardo Almeida’s Brazilian Ji-Jitsu Academy. Also a special thanks to HDNet/Fight! Magazine’s Mike Straka.

Jorgensen expects to be a champion for a very long time

Scott Jorgensen delivers ground and pound (image via Sherdog.com)

For former Boise State wrestler and current WEC bantamweight title challenger Scott Jorgensen, having fun is what makes fighting so enjoyable.

“Wrestling taught me that nothing’s for sure and nothing’s forever,” he says, “but I’ll do it as long as I have fun.”

As he prepared for champion Dominick Cruz at WEC 53 on Thursday in Phoenix, Jorgensen took time to join hosts Joe Martinez and Joe Rizzo for Are You Ready on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  The trio discussed the upcoming title fight, the WEC-UFC merger, and fighting against teammates.

Training at his alma mater, as well as dropping in on world class gyms like Xtreme Couture and TapouT Research and Development Training Center in Las Vegas, Jorgensen will look to impose his will on the champion.  It’s something he believes Cruz hasn’t faced during his title reign.

“I don’t fight like the other guys he’s fought,” Jorgensen said.  “I have a different style; I control fights.  He can do his stick-and-move thing, but he won’t be able to hurt me.  I’m going to hit him with hard shots and take him down.”

While Jorgensen respects Cruz for being the champion, he doesn’t expect the fight to be any tougher than his previous fights inside the WEC.

“It’s always going to be tough when you’re fighting at this level,” explained Jorgensen.  “I’m always facing elite guys.  The only difference is that each fighter has their own style.  But they have to handle me first.  If they want to win the fight, they have to deal with me.”

Discussing the game plan for his upcoming title clash, Jorgensen used definitive words.

“I’m going to beat him,” he said.  “And by ‘beat him,’ I don’t just mean win.  I mean I’m going to make him hurt.  (I’m) going to batter him, cut him, make him bleed.

“Whether it’s on the feet, on the ground, against the cage, it doesn’t matter.  It’s going to be a tough fight, but he doesn’t have the mentality or the heart that I’ve got.  He can’t fight at the pace, the level, or with the mentality that I’ve got.  He’s got a lot of obstacles to overcome.”

While dethroning Cruz seems like a lofty enough goal for any fighter, Jorgensen doesn’t want it to end there.

“I expect to be a champion for a very long time,” he declared.  “I haven’t even achieved what I expect myself to do.  I’ve taken the steps necessary to myself in line with my goal.  With the merger, I’m not just fighting for a WEC championship, I’m fighting for a UFC championship belt.  That’s my main focus, my goal.”

A UFC championship is a far cry from where Jorgensen thought he’d be when he first started fighting.  After his college career ended, he was introduced to fighting by friend and fellow WEC bantamweight Urijah Faber.

“Wrestling was over, but I still wanted to compete,” said Jorgensen.  “I could either try to make the Olympic team or fight.  Urijah talked me into fighting.  I started taking fights and I was doing real well, having fun.  I didn’t expect it to turn into what it has.”

With Faber now joining him at 135 pounds, there is a possibility that the two could collide if Jorgensen takes the belt from Cruz.  Jorgensen believes it would be fun to coach against his friend on The Ultimate Fighter.

“It would be fun to talk some smack to a friend while on the show,” Jorgensen quipped.  “Everyone has seen the coaches with bad blood and whatnot, but we’d go in there to beat each other up and have fun at the same time.  Some of the best smack talk comes between friends, not because they hate each other, but because they’re competitive.”

Acknowledging that MMA is a business, Jorgensen is willing to fight anyone that’s put in front of him.  Even if that means it’s a training partner like Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren or a friend like Faber.   It’s this outlook that separates Jorgensen from other competitors in the sport.

“It’s not a team sport,” said Jorgensen.  “You’re always relying on yourself.  Any failures are on you.  You can’t point a finger at a training partner.  You’re accountable for yourself and you can’t say much if you get beat.”

On Thursday he will look to take the belt, all while having fun and hoping that it will be Cruz who is forced to account for his failures after the loss.

Palaszewski-Shalorus will be on televised WEC 53 card, order set

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Bart Palaszewski: Bubble Baths and Title Dreams

Bart Palaszewski (photo courtesy of Sherdog)

What is the weirdest place you have ever been while giving an interview?

WEC lightweight Bart Palaszewski now has a great answer to that question, after chatting with hosts Joe Rizzo and Joe Martinez of Are You Ready Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network from the comfort of his own bathtub.

In addition to discussing the benefits of kid’s shampoo, Palaszewski spoke on a wide variety of topics during the show, concerning his mixed martial arts career and his upcoming WEC 53 bout with Kamal Shalorus.

“He’s down to throw down,” Palaszewski said of Shalorus. “You gotta be careful of his wrestling and those crazy punches he throws.”

“I think he’s one of the guys that’s willing to actually fight me, not sit on top of me,” Palaszewski continued. “He’s a good wrestler, but he’s looking for a fight. I’m the guy to give it to him, for sure.”

Shalorus is but the latest in a long line of opponents that have touched gloves with the 27-year old. Palaszewski received his big break with the IFL’s Quad City Silverbacks squad. Those days of team-based MMA combat are just a distant memory now, but Palaszewski acknowledged that the busy schedule of the promotion has taken a long term toll on his body and career.

“It took a toll on my body,” Palaszewski said. “Two weeks out, when I fought Gunderson, I blew my ankle out. I tore a bunch of things in there, but I was just like, ‘Oh we ain’t got no time. I can’t pull out because we don’t have a replacement, alright let’s tape it up, let’s go.’”

“It feels like I’m 37, if not older.”

During that era, Palaszewski split his training time between Team Curran in Crystal Lake, a suburb of Chicago, and the Iowa-based Pat Miletich camp. The week started on Monday morning at Jeff Curran’s gym, followed by a three hour drive to the Bettendorf facility. He would remain in Iowa until Thursday evening, at which time he would drive home and train in Illinois again on Friday and Saturday. Sunday provided him a single day’s respite before launching into the same routine once again.

While he gained much knowledge under Miletich’s tutelage, his ability to make the commute became more difficult as the birth of his daughter, Natalia, approached. He remained with the Silverbacks for as long as he could, but eventually he opted to forego the excursions to Iowa.

“I told Pat that I just can’t do it,” Palaszewski explained. “I’m going to be with Jenny and stay by her side.”

In fact, Palaszewski’s commitment to the team almost caused him to miss Natalia’s birth.

“I believe it was semifinals. I fought Thursday night. I came home Friday morning,” said Palaszewski. “Friday night, Jenny went into labor. I almost missed the birth of my child because I was fighting. I would have been kicking myself in the ass for a long time for that one.”

The IFL might have put Palaszewski’s name on television screens of MMA fans nationwide, but it has been the WEC that has allowed him to ascend to the next level. His first stint with the promotion was a rough one, with the Polish-born fighter claiming a victory in his WEC debut against Alex Karalexis but dropping his next two fights to Ricardo Lamas and Anthony Njokuani.

Palaszewski would get things back on track with a win over Tyler Combs in the Chicago-based XFO organization. That triumph set him up for a second run in the WEC, one that would go much better than his first effort.

His return came against Anthony Pettis, who will vie for the WEC lightweight title on the same card as Palaszewski’s matchup with Shalorus. Palaszewski claimed a split decision in their WEC 45 contest to hand the young prospect his first and only pro defeat.

Bart hopes the victory over Pettis, along with his own hard work, will result in a rematch against “Showtime” once the two fighters move to the UFC Octagon. He’ll even be rooting for the 23-year old on Thursday night, in the hopes that championship gold might be involved in an eventual rematch.

“The better he does, the better it looks for me too,” Palaszewski said on the show. “I hope he goes into the UFC and somehow gets that belt. I know he wants that rematch bad, and the only way he’s going to get it is if we’re fighting for that belt.”

Since his win over Pettis, Palaszewski has added impressive victories over Zack Micklewright and Karen Darabedyan to his resume. Next, Palaszewski hopes to hand another undefeated lightweight his first career loss. However, he’s not underestimating Shalorus, a former Olympic wrestler with heavy hands, despite noting the Iranian-born fighter’s tendency to fade after the first round.

“He blows his load in the first round,” Palaszewski said. “Everything he throws, if it hits you it might even kill you, not just knock you out. You can’t really weather the storm with a guy like that, just got to stay away from him (and) make him miss, that first round, and then go after him in the second.”

A victory would be another feather in Palaszewski’s cap, propelling him ever closer to that title fight he desires. Bart knows he’s still a few wins away from reaching that objective, but he firmly believes one day he will realize his dream.

“I want that gold. I want to be best in the world,” he said. “In my eyes, I don’t know if I’m best in the world yet, but I know I have the potential to be the best in the world. That’s what I’m gonna shoot for.”

“I’ve poured out a lot of blood, sweat and tears on the mat and the ring not to get that belt.”

Next time we hear from Bart Palaszewski, his WEC career will be behind him and he’ll likely carry the tab of “UFC fighter.” He might even be one step closer to a title shot.

But maybe next time, he won’t be in a bathtub.

The Ground N Pound: UFC 124′s Jim Miller, WEC 53 Breakdown

Photo courtesy of AMAFightClub.com

Hector Castro & Maggie Krol will be LIVE at 8:30pm EST(5:30 pm  PST)  on the Ground N Pound breaks down the most recent battles and gets you prepped for the upcoming combat action on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.

Joining us will be UFC 124′s Jim Miller fresh off his victory performance against Charles Oliveira. Miller has now won six straight fights in the UFC, which has lead him to politick for a title shot.

Listen to internet radio with MMA DieHards Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Anthony Pettis: Choosing the Right Path

Anthony Pettis (photo courtesy of Sherdog)

There are not many fighters in the world of mixed martial arts who are on more of a hot streak than World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight contender Anthony Pettis. With three consecutive wins by stoppage, Pettis has set himself up for the biggest fight of his young career, a lightweight title match with Ben Henderson at WEC 53.

The past year has seen Pettis beef up his MMA resume with three straight wins over high-quality opponents, and also inject his name in the the minds of casual MMA fans after his appearance on MTV’s documentary-style reality show, World of Jenks.

It all started, curiously enough, with a split-decision loss to Bart Palaszewski at WEC 45.

“When I got signed I was 22, so I’m still young in this game, and going into the Palaszewski fight I felt invincible and came into fights feeling I could beat anybody,” Pettis said to Joe Rizzo and Joe Martinez on Are You Ready Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Bart Palaszewski proved me wrong, but it’s been the best thing that’s happened to me. Nothing motivates like a loss. When you go through a loss you find out a lot about yourself and really become better as a fighter.”

Even though Pettis was able to turn that defeat into a positive and string together three wins to earn a title shot, not every fighter would have went down that path. It was Pettis’ first loss of his career, and forced him to re-evaluate his life in and out of the cage. Doubt crept in. He wondered where things would go from there and feared what a second loss might do to his career.

“I have always been confident in my skills, but after the loss I had to restart everything I though about myself,” Pettis said. “After you lose you consider everything. I could get cut, not have any income and it could all be over.”

Pettis is well-equipped to deal with adversity, though, and has been walking the right path for some time despite an upbringing in Milwaukee that pulled him in several directions.

“My dad tragically died when I was a junior in high school and when that happened I wasn’t the person I am today,” Pettis said. “All my cousins were in gangs in the neighborhood, and when you lose your dad at a young age like I did you want revenge. You want answers and you want to know what happened and who did it. But when I saw how much it hurt my mom, I never wanted to see my mom cry again. I wanted to make her smile and that’s what I became 100 percent focused on doing.”

Pettis’ story was detailed by award-winning filmmaker Andrew Jenks on MTV, and the show concluded with Pettis’ fight against Danny Castillo at WEC 47. It was a huge fight for Pettis because he knew a loss could stop his career before it really even began. Pettis rocked Castillo with a head kick and finished him off with a flurry of punches on the ground to secure the first round knockout and earn a bonus for Knockout of the Night. Two wins later via triangle choke over Alex Karalexis and Shane Roller, and Pettis has become one of the best lightweights in the game.

“I had a lot riding on that fight,” Pettis said. “I put everything I had into that training camp and I was able to win and get a bonus. That was the first time I got a bonus and since then my income has gotten better.”

“Everything has lined up perfectly for me this past year. It’s probably a year I’ll never forget with everything that’s happened.”

During the past 12 months, Pettis has also become a businessman. He owns three mixed martial arts gyms in and around his hometown of Milwaukee and recently opened a sports bar focused on combat sports. Every story that comes out about Pettis lately illustrates a maturity not usually found in a 23-year old.

“My ultimate goal isn’t to be filthy rich, I just want to be secure,” Pettis said. “I grew up in a house that didn’t always have food and I had to share clothes. The fight game only lasts so long, and I’ve had some great opportunities to invest in some businesses and work on deciding what I want to do the rest of my life.”

While Pettis is constantly taking steps to make sure his future is as bright as his life currently is, his focus is squarely on Henderson and the WEC lightweight belt. WEC 53 is the final WEC event before the Zuffa-run promotion officially merges with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The winner of the Pettis-Henderson fight will face the winner of UFC 125′s clash between champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard in a superfight to unify the WEC and UFC lightweight titles.

“I’m ready to go,” Pettis said. “I put a lot of work into this camp and it’s been a long time coming. I’m ready to go in there and do what I do best.”

Henderson represents a huge challenge to Pettis, as the current champion is 12-1 with a perfect 5-0 record in WEC. Henderson’s lone loss came very early in his career and he owns wins over Roller and Jamie Varner, and a pair of victories over Donald Cerrone. Four of his five WEC wins have come by stoppage, with the other being a unanimous decision.

“Fighting Ben Henderson is a great opportunity for me,” Pettis stated. “I think he is really underrated and should be considered top five in MMA. Everyone doubts the WEC because we’re not the UFC, but one of us will get to carry the flag over and prove the top-level WEC guys can hold their own. We just haven’t had a chance to show everybody.”

A year ago, Pettis didn’t know where the next path in life would take him. Now he has his career and future outside of MMA clearly in control. When the cage door closes and he and Henderson step toward each other, he’ll have another chance to take his career to a whole new level.

“I like going in as the underdog,” Pettis said. “Nobody expects me to win. I have nothing to lose. Every fight I go into I give everything I have. It’s going to be an amazing fight, I’ll tell you that.”

The Closing Bell: UFC 124 and WEC 53 Predictions

It’s yet another busy weekend for The Closing Bell. Besides tonight’s UFC 124 pay-per-view event, this is the last edition of The Closing Bell prior to the WEC’s farewell show. Therefore, for the second straight week, we have two events to preview. With so much to cover, let’s get started:

UFC 124 Predictions

Georges St-Pierre (L) and Josh Koscheck (photo courtesy of MMA Weekly)

The UFC returns to pay-per-view tonight at 10 p.m. ET for UFC 124. The card features the showdown between TUF 12 coaches Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck, as well as several other intriguing main card matchups. Spike TV will not be able to broadcast a “UFC Prelims” show for the event, but the UFC will offer a couple of free bouts from the prelim card on UFC.com.

Preliminary Card: The UFC has to be commended for making sure fans get some free fights, even when Spike TV can’t air them. The UFC.com fights start at 9 p.m. ET and include a lightweight clash between Dustin Hazelett and Mark Bocek and a middleweight battle between Dan Miller and Joe Doerksen.

Pat Audinwood against John Makdessi is definitely a grappler versus striker affair. Makdessi’s background is in kickboxing and he has six wins via TKO on his undefeated 7-0 record. The 9-1-1 Audinwood has never been involved in a knockout finish in his pro career, win or lose. Audinwood has already fought inside the Octagon, while Makdessi is making his UFC debut. Those famous Octagon jitters will lead to Makdessi’s first career loss, as he makes a mistake and finds himself tapping out.

Jesse Bongfeldt is on a seven fight winning streak that includes victories over UFC veteran T.J. Grant and fellow debuting Canadian Sean Pierson. My only concern is that he’ll be seeing his first action in over a year while making his Octagon debut. Rafael Natal was extremely disappointing in his UFC debut against Rich Attonito, but he has a more impressive resume than Bongfeldt. I look for Natal to bounce back with a better showing this go-around, picking up a submission win.

Ricardo Almeida lost to Matt Hughes in his last outing and has been bumped way down into the depths of the prelim card. He’s facing T.J. Grant, who tends to alternate between wins and losses since coming to the UFC. That pattern suggests it’s time for Grant to lose, and I can’t say I disagree. Almeida should be able to dominate regardless of where this bout takes place to pick up a unanimous decision.

For a fighter who made his pro debut in the Octagon, Matthew Riddle has been pretty dominant on the big stage. Sean Pierson seems like another perfect opponent to keep Riddle in the win column. Riddle has some power and I’ll say he uses it to TKO the UFC newcomer.

Joe Doerksen is a savvy veteran, but he’s going up against a tough foe in Dan Miller. Miller was on a three fight losing streak recently, but those losses came against Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping. That’s not a bad set of opponents. Doerksen is nowhere near the same level as those guys and should fall victim to a submission from Miller.

Dustin Hazelett is hoping a return to lightweight will spark a return to success for him after two straight losses at 170 pounds. He’ll have his work cut out for him against Mark Bocek though. It should be a close one, but I’ll give the edge to Hazelett.

Main Card: The welterweight championship bout between GSP and Koscheck is definitely the big draw here. The other fight I’m excited about is Jim Miller against Charles Oliveira. Oliveira has shown potential and Miller will be a stiff test for him. The Thiago Alves vs. John Howard fight should also be a fun one.

The Alves-Howard fight could turn into a great stand-up war, but what’s interesting is Howard actually has more submission wins than knockouts. They all came early in his career though, which might be a testament to the level of his opponents at the time. He’s not going to have an easy time taking Alves down, so I won’t be looking for any grappling work here. Alves has been battling the division’s best and has only lost to GSP and Jon Fitch since 2005. It’s hard to pick against that. I’ll take Alves by TKO.

So Mac Danzig goes 1-4 over his last five UFC appearances and he’s still with the organization? I wonder if I’ll still be asking that after he moves to 1-5 with a loss to Joe Stevenson tonight. Danzig has been one of the bigger disappointments out of the TUF winners and it’s surprising to me that he is still employed by the UFC. He was definitely experienced and skilled enough to come out on top in a TUF house, but he’s struggling against the higher level of competition that comes with fights in actual UFC events and Stevenson might be his biggest challenge yet. I look for Stevenson to finish Danzig via submission.

Charles Oliveira has had an impressive first two fights in the Octagon, but Jim Miller is a big step up from Darren Elkins or Efrain Escudero. It should be a great fight and is easily the one bout where I have the hardest time picking a winner. Oliveira’s biggest advantage might be in the stand-up game, but Miller is a more proven commodity on the big stage. If I’m forced to pick, I’ll say Miller in a very close back-and-forth fight.

Stefan Struve is starting to turn into another Cheick Kongo or Gabriel Gonzaga – a fighter who can beat everyone except the true contenders. His chin is a weakness, but only Junior dos Santos and Roy Nelson have been able to find his off-button. McCorkle’s biggest win came against Mark Hunt, a one-dimensional striker who hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success in MMA. I see Struve controlling this fight, knocking McCorkle down and finishing him with a submission.

Georges St-Pierre has been one of the UFC’s most dominant champions, but there’s always that memory of his loss to Matt Serra lingering in my mind when I see a big underdog betting line for GSP’s opponent. GSP isn’t invincible, so there’s always the chance he could fall. However, minus the Serra fluke, he hasn’t lost in a long time. Koscheck has been a lot less consistent, dropping bouts to Paulo Thiago and Thiago Alves. I look for GSP to dominate again, earning a unanimous decision over Koscheck.

WEC 53 Predictions

WEC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz (photo courtesy of Sherdog)

Thursday night will mark WEC’s farewell effort. It’ll be sad to see the blue mat go, but the arrival of the lighter weight classes in the UFC is a smart and exciting move for Zuffa. The Dec. 16 event will air live on the Versus network beginning at 9 p.m. ET and features two championship bouts. It’s a solid final offering from the promotion that will setup a future UFC lightweight title unification bout and crown the first ever UFC bantamweight champ.

Preliminary Card: You know it’s a stacked show for the WEC when names like Jamie Varner, Brad Pickett and Shane Roller are relegated to the prelims. However, the name that most intrigues me is Yuri Alcantara. He’s 23-3 and can prove himself against a solid foe on Thursday before moving on to the UFC.

That foe is Ricardo Lamas. The lightweight is 4-1 in the WEC and 9-1 overall. He tends to grind out decisions, while Alcantara finishes opponents. I’m predicting a successful arrival for Alcantara, as he stops Lamas in the middle round.

Nova Uniao’s Renan Barao is another stellar name on this card. The 23-1 fighter is taking on 10-1 Chris Cariaso in a battle of bantamweight prospects. I look for Barao to outclass Cariaso on his way to a decision victory.

Danny Castillo has been fighting amongst the top tier of WEC’s lightweight division for a while now. Will Kerr isn’t quite in that league yet. I like Castillo in this one, most likely by submission.

Eddie Wineland has been a mainstay of the WEC for a long time and it’s fitting that he’s among the participants on the final card under the promotion’s banner. He’ll welcome Ken Stone into the organization. Stone is a 9-1 fighter out of American Top Team, but he might be in over his head against Wineland. Neither fighter tends to leave the fight in the judges’ hands, so we’re probably in for a finish here. I’ll say Wineland earns the win with a TKO stoppage.

UFC veteran Ivan Menjivar will be fighting for only the second time since the end of 2006. He draws Brad Pickett, who is coming off a loss to top bantamweight contender Scott Jorgensen. Pickett had a good run going before running in Jorgensen and I think he’ll bounce back here with a decision victory over Menjivar.

At past WEC events, a bout between former WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner and contender Shane Roller would easily have made the main card. But Varner is 0-2-1 in his last three fights and Roller came out on the losing end against Anthony Pettis for the right to face Ben Henderson for the WEC 155-pound crown. A lot of losses have resulted in this fight capping off the prelims rather than hanging on the main card. Varner just didn’t look like a top caliber fighter against the fired-up Donald Cerrone, but Roller doesn’t have that same aggressiveness. Varner’s combination of wrestling and boxing skills make him my pick in this one.

Main Card: You could interchange any of the prelim bouts with the first three fights on the main card and you’d hear no complaints from me. A case can be made for any fight below the championship matches being included on the main card.

That doesn’t mean every fight is an even contest though. Some fights are meant to be showcase affairs and that alone can make them worthy of main card placement. That’s the case with Tiequan Zhang’s bout against Danny Downes. Downes is the sacrifical lamb here, as the WEC sets Zhang up to get another impressive win before moving to the UFC.

Bart Palaszewski is a fun fighter to watch. He also has a solid chin, which will come in handy against Kamal Shalorus. Kamal likes to stand and throw haymakers, which could get him in trouble against Palaszewski. Shalorus does have amazing wrestling, but Palaszewski’s submissions could pose too much of a threat for Kamal to opt for the takedown. Besides, Shalorus has abandoned his sure-thing takedowns in the past for the opportunity to swing for the fences. And the only way this fight hits the mat is if Shalorus wants it there, so expect to see these guys trading fists instead. Shalorus has a lot of power, but his technique will be his downfall here. Palaszewski might not be able to finish Kamal, but he’ll at least take home the decision by avoiding Shalorus’ looping bombs and countering with more precise striking of his own.

Chris Horodecki made a name for himself in the IFL, but even in those days there were hints that Horodecki had his weaknesses. The ring saved Horodecki from submissions and TKO’s on numerous occasions, but he doesn’t have that same luxury when competing in a cage. Donald Cerrone is a veteran competitor who has been involved in the WEC lightweight title picture for what seems like forever. Horodecki was the top of the food chain for a long time in the IFL, but the roles are different here. Cerrone is a top dog and Horodecki is the one who needs to make an impression. Cerrone will stagger Horodecki early and get the submission win.

Dominick Cruz hopes to convert his WEC bantamweight title into a UFC championship belt, but Scott Jorgensen wants to make sure he’s the one wearing the gold instead. Jorgensen has been on a roll in his last five fights, but now he’s fighting a man whose only career loss came at the hands of Urijah Faber. Cruz will do the same thing he has done in almost all of his WEC wins: claim a decision victory.

Ben Henderson against Anthony Pettis is especially exciting since it doubles as a No. 1 contender fight for the UFC lightweight division. In 2011, we will get to see how the WEC’s top lightweight stacks up against the UFC’s top 155-pounder. But who will represent the WEC in that showdown? Both fighters have 12-1 records and have been fighting professionally for approximately the same length of time (Henderson’s first fight was in November of 2006, Pettis’ in January of 2007). It should be a great battle with some spectacular moments and it’s another tough fight to pick. Henderson seems to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike, while Pettis might be a little less cautious in throwing up submission attempts. I’ll give the edge to the current champ, Henderson.

Farewell WEC, Hello UFC

Since we’re talking about WEC’s demise, it’s only fair that we also mention the rise of the little guys in the UFC. There’s already plenty of excitement over the arrival of Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz and the other WEC veterans, but the UFC is already demonstrating that the divisions will receive even more attention at their new home in the UFC.

In just the past week, the UFC has added Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and Michihiro Omigawa to its roster. Yamamoto will meet Demetrious Johnson in February and Omigawa is slated to face Chad Mendes in early 2011. Not only are the signings great, but the matchups are fantastic.

Hopefully the UFC continues to import top featherweight and bantamweight talent from overseas moving forward – I’d definitely love to see Bibiano Fernandes, Masakazu Imanari and Masakatsu Ueda in the Octagon soon.

Add that to UFC president Dana White’s recent talk of bringing flyweights to the UFC and the merger of the two organizations is turning out to be an even better move than I first thought.

Thoughts on Last Weekend’s Fights

It seems like it would be very challenging to watch two events in the same night, but thanks to the power of DVR, commercials, downtime between fights and the brevity of the Strikeforce card, it turned out to be a lot easier than you’d think. In fact, I was done watching both events in the time I anticipated it would take to watch one.

Strikeforce definitely delivered more bang during its card, but it sure seemed like it was over in a flash. Alternating back and forth between “Henderson vs. Babalu 2″ and the TUF 12 Finale might have had something to do with it, but I don’t think it’s the real culprit here. The last three fights of the Strikeforce card lasted a combined 4:52. That’s less than the duration of one round in an MMA fight.

Exciting knockout finishes are great, but it left Strikeforce in a predicament where it aired less than 30 minutes of actual fighting during the broadcast. I might sound like a broken record to those who’ve been reading my columns for a while, but I think Strikeforce would be wise to consider airing preliminary card bouts in the same manner as the UFC. They had five finishes out of eight prelim bouts – let the viewers see some of that action and maybe the promotion can naturally grow its roster depth instead of having to rely mostly on talent that have made their names either in the UFC or overseas.

You know the judging in MMA has gotten bad when the winners admit in the post-fight interview that they lost the fight. In the past, controversial decisions were close enough that the winner would still believe they deserved the W even when the fans and journalists didn’t. But now the decisions are getting so ridiculous that guys like Leonard Garcia and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have had to apologize to the crowd and acknowledge their defeat. It’s time the athletic commissions did something about this, and stop denying a problem exists.

I give Strikeforce the nod for the more exciting fight card of Saturday night, but would it be too much to say that the most satisfying effort of the week actually came two days earlier at Tachi Palace Fights 7?

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