(Courtesy of NBA.com.)
“Each of the Five Points is a finger,” said Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in the film Gangs of New York. “When I close my hand it becomes a fist. And, if I wish, I can turn it against you.”
Twenty-two of WEC’s mixed martial artists will enter the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX on Oct. 10 for WEC 43, make fists, and turn them against each other. Here are five points to watch for on Sunday night.
Interim Lightweight Title Up for Grabs
(“Cowboy” ropes James Krause. Props to WEC.tv.)
Donald Cerrone loathes WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner. If he wants that hate to culminate in a title fight, he first has to claim the interim belt from Benson Henderson.
Henderson, 9-1, is undefeated since arriving in the WEC this January, tapping out Anthony Njokuani and stopping heavy favorite Shane Roller with punches in a dramatic comeback win in 101 seconds. His strengths mirror Varner’s—smooth wrestling and powerful hands. “Cowboy” is a more varied striker and an aggressive submission fighter, however, his takedown defense leaves him susceptible to drowning in the deep water of a five-round fight against a wrestler as seen with Varner.
The fight serves as a proving ground for Henderson at the sport’s higher levels. For Cerrone, it’s a roadblock on his path of revenge and a style test he’s struggled with in the past. If he can force “Smooth” into a rough fight standing or catch him making a mistake raining down ground and pound, Cerrone may get his chance at redemption.
Fighting “The Angel of Death”
Undefeated bantamweight Will Campuzano drew the wrong tarot card when he was dealt a fight with Damacio “The Angel of Death” Page. With only a year and change of experience, the undefeated fighter (6-0) has a stiff test in a world traveled veteran like the Greg Jackson-trained Page, who is coming off the most violent knockout win of his career—or in WEC history for that matter—against Marcos Galvao.
Campuzano is a lanky, technical muay Thai specialist with power and a great killer instinct. However malicious his strikes, he doesn’t throw many combinations and can over commit, leaving him open for takedowns where his inexperience on the ground can be exploited. Page should use his experience and ring generalship to take the bout soundly unless he enters a firefight or gets caught closing the distance against the rangy striker.
(Fabiano deals with Akitoshi Tamura. Props to WEC.tv)
Former International Fight League featherweight champion Wagnney Fabiano is 2-0 in the WEC (12-1 overall) and a top 145-pound fighter in the world. However, an emphatic win eludes him on the big blue stage. He looks for a statement bout against relatively inexperienced Miguel Torres protégé Mackens Semerzier.
At just 3-0, Semerzier was already courted by the WEC prior to filling in on short notice for an injured Erik Koch. The former Marine’s athleticism coupled with size and strength can overwhelm an experienced veteran like Fabiano. The Brazilian’s masterful control should earn him the nod, though.
Another Brazilian featherweight, Raphael Assuncao, has come into the WEC with championship contention expectations. Taking on Yves Jabouin, a versatile Canadian striker, Assuncao has a favorable style matchup that should see him become focused on takedowns and submissions to avoid danger standing. Whether or not Assuncao can emerge victorious in aesthetically pleasing fashion is another opponent he faces on the way to the title.
Reaching for the Rebound
Scott Jorgensen earned Fight of the Night honors at WEC 41 in June against Antonio Banuelos but he didn’t get the win. Against Noah Thomas, who wants to erase his “The Ultimate Fighter” stint and repackage himself as a top bantamweight, Jorgensen must make it a clinch fight and persist with takedowns, grounding and pounding Thomas. “Red” attacks well from guard, but suffered a significant amount of damage from guard en route to submitting to Frank Gomez also at WEC 41. Thomas’ best asset is his will, and Jorgensen can match him in that department on his way to a win.
Well-rounded Eddie Wineland is better than he showed when losing to Rani Yahya in 67 seconds in April. Facing former title challenger Manny Tapia, he has a chance to earn a ‘W’ against someone who will fight him anywhere the fight goes. Tapia’s two fight losing streak should force him to employ his wrestling against a dynamic striker like Wineland or else risk getting stopped by the rangy striker.
Coty Wheeler gets his second shot at winning in the WEC versus former bantamweight contender Charlie Valencia. California-bred Valencia has never won back-to-back bouts in the WEC, but that should change against Wheeler due to his aggression and submission defense.
Looking for a resurgence at 145-pounds, Javier Vazquez was once considered an elite lighter weight fighter. With over a decade in the sport, Vasquez fell short in his debut at WEC 42 against L.C. Davis, dropping a split decision. He steps in for an injured Mark Hominick against IFL veteran
Deividas Taurosevicius. Vasquez’s high-level grappling should catch the Lithuanian bully, who may be rusty after 17 months of inactivity.
The WEC’s lightweight division needs contenders. M-1 veteran Dave Jansen is a solid talent and has accepted a stern test against former title challenger Rich Crunkilton. Both are complete fighters, but Jansen’s work rate should be the deciding factor against Crunkilton, who hasn’t competed in 19 months.
Anthony Njokuani’s fast-paced muay Thai and improving ground game will take Muhsin Corbbrey out of his element, keeping his name on a short list of contenders at lightweight.