Before every major card, FIGHT! will pick one non-title bout we feel represents the greatest potential risk and reward for the participants. Whether a win means a title shot or loss means a one-way ticket home, we’ve deemed this match the FIGHT! of the Night.
The rapid ascent of Brian Bowles from 3-0 unknown to WEC bantamweight champion in just two years proves opportunities are in mixed martial arts are taken—not given. WEC newcomer Mackens Semerzier, 3-0, will have his chance to travel down a similar road at featherweight as the Virginian faces top-10 145-pounder Wagnney Fabiano on Oct. 10 at WEC 43 inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX.
Given Fabiano’s pedigree as the International Fight League featherweight champion, a win for either combatant positions them as a viable contender for the WEC’s featherweight crown worn by Mike Thomas Brown (or Jose Aldo, should he defeat Brown on Nov. 18 in Las Vegas). The Brazilian is a proficient striker and an elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, which is what lead him to a 6-0 IFL run with six finishes. In Semerzier, he faces a purple belt under 7th degree Gracie black belt Pedro Sauer. The Miguel Torres protégé was already in negotiations to enter the WEC before Fabiano’s original opponent, Erik Koch, dropped out due to injury.
After accepting the bout with Fabiano, Semerzier pointed out this is a fight, not a grappling match. That’s great for the former Marine, who is athletic and possesses natural power and killer instinct. His wrestling background makes him hard to take down. Coupled with his size and flexibility allows him to explode after the fight hits the mat. A discipline gameplan could keep the bout standing where his chances increase exponentially due to his explosiveness.
Fabiano isn’t scared to stand, but his game is on the mat. While he can miss submission attempts early on when he should have them locked (see bouts with John Gunderson and LC Davis), he’s a tireless worker. Against Akitoshi Tamura, he worked for three rounds in the highly regarded Shooto veteran’s guard, securing an arm-triangle in the final seconds. That kind of plodding game will not be acceptable against a tough yet incredibly inexperienced “Mack Da Menace.”
The situation is a win-win for Semerzier, while Fabiano stands to lose everything by underperforming or losing against a debuting fighter. Fabiano must at least break even and play a controlling positional game in search of the submission. If he wants to be a contender he must separate himself from the pack, especially the similarly-skilled and regarded Rafael Assuncao, with a decisive finish. Regardless, the style matchup and stakes for each combatant solidifies Fabiano-Semerzier as the FIGHT! of the Night.