Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif. has become a second home for Las Vegas-based World Extreme Cagefighting. With a lightweight unification bout and world class featherweights bolstering the WEC’s first offering of 2010, this card is sure to please every MMA fan who isn’t also a DirectTV subscriber. Here are FIGHT!’s picks for UFC 108 with odds courtesy of bodog.
(Varner is explosive but almost a year off with injuries will leave him rusty.)
Jamie Varner defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for WEC 155-pound gold nine months before Benson Henderson did. But Varner, the two-time defending champ, exited the bout with a buffet of injuries. Henderson submitted Anthony Njokuani that same night Varner. He followed with a come-from-behind TKO over Shane Roller and notched a “Fight of the Year” nominee in his new gold belt against Cerrone while Varner sat out with injuries.
A pair of boxer-wrestlers, Varner is a more explosive version of Henderson in both departments; however, a year on the shelf and recent beef with the WEC could open windows physically or mentally enough for the patient, persistent and dangerous Henderson to run through.
FIGHT! Pick: Henderson
Urijah Faber’s struggles have been with strong grapplers. For the first round of his title defense versus Jeff Curran December 2007, he found himself in various bad positions against the Pedro Sauer black belt. Assuncao brings the kind of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that can push Faber in front of his home crowd and his improved muay Thai makes him a stern test for “The California Kid.”
Faber’s pace and agresssion, though, are something the American Top Team affiliated fighter lacks. The former featherweight kingpin simply has more ways to win and a huge gas tank. A healthy former champ in his hometown, Faber’s the clear favorite.
FIGHT! Pick: Faber
There is no such thing as an easy fight and Mike Thomas Brown’s first opponent since relinquishing his featherweight strap to Jose Aldo is proof. Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison is a hungry Philadelphia fighter who cut his teeth in the streets and carries natural athleticism and high impact wrestling into the cage. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
The American Top Team fighter must exploit Morrison’s submission deficiencies with a basic clinch against the fence-takedown-submit game. Brown’s cage generalship should allow him to weather Morrison’s storm.
FIGHT! Pick: Brown
Despite an experience gap, Mackens Semerzier, 5-0, has the wrestling and submission game to match International Fight League veteran Deividas Taurosevicious. An athletic edge and the resulting stand-up leaves “Mack Da Menace” with a second chance to impress the world as he did in his unforeseen upset triangle choke over top-10 featherweight Wagnney Fabiano at WEC 43. The Lithuanian’s stifling game is too reliant on top control to end up victorious against the dynamic newcomer.
FIGHT! Pick: Semerzier
Unknown Clint Godfrey makes his WEC debut on short notice against Wagnney Fabiano. The former IFL Featherweight Champion, who was originally slated to face Erik Koch before then-unknown Semerzier sent him down to bantamweight with an embarrassing submission win, must be having flash backs. Godfrey’s got submission knowledge beyond his blue belt and an impressive 11-1 record to bolster his chances.
Fabiano is still one of the world’s best, though. After tapping to a purple belt, the elite grappler rebounds with a pure positional game as he inches toward a submission of his own.
FIGHT! Pick: Fabiano
FIGHT! Pick: Henderson Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Urijah Faber (-550) vs. Rafael Assuncao (+375)
FIGHT! Pick: Faber Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Mike Thomas Brown (-800) vs. Anthony Morrison (+500)
FIGHT! Pick: Brown Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Mackens Semerzier (-140) vs. Deividas Taurosevicious (+110)
FIGHT! Pick: Semerzier Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT