FIGHT! Picks: WEC 45 Cerrone vs. Ratcliff

The UFC’s little blue brother the WEC closes out Zuffa’s 2009 with a small but potent bang as two lightweight fights co-headline a card with intriguing bantamweight battles to kick start the Versus broadcast. Odds courtesy of bodog.

Donald Cerrone (-500) vs zinEd Ratcliff (+300)

Donald Cerrone’s come up short in major bouts—losing to Jamie Varner for the WEC Lightweight Championship and Benson Henderson for its interim sister. Despite the defeats, he’s still one of the WEC’s best in terms of skills and name recognition. In Ratcliff, “Cowboy” gets a chance to ride out of the lightweight class and into the featherweight division on a much-needed high note for the muay Thai and submission specialist.

Ed Ratcliff is a powerful kickboxer with a gas tank problem. For all his physical gifts, Ratcliff’s acceleration is as poor as Cerrone is tough. With a marked advantage on the mat, Cerrone’s go-for-broke submissions can put away “8MM” the same way he can end the match standing—technical superiority.

FIGHT! Pick: Cerrone.

Chris Horodecki was the fresh-faced poster boy for the International Fight League before the team-based organization folded. He’s had one bout since, scoring a rear-naked choke in a little-seen June matchup. An exciting stand-up fighter at 22-years-old, “The Polish Hammer” can resume where he left off in the IFL in the WEC with a win over a dangerous Njokuani.

Njokuani is an aggressive, slick and dangerous muay Thai specialist. His high-flying style will challenge Horodecki in ways he’s yet to encounter in the cage. However, the Team Tompkins fighter loves a good war and will oblige Njokuani unless he’s matured enough to know a fighter has options when It all goes south.

FIGHT! Pick: Njokuani.

Takeya Mizugaki (-155) vs Scott Jorgensen (+125)

Takeya Mizugaki was thrust into the WEC spotlight when he took on then-bantamweight king Miguel Torres in a five-round war. He rebounded by edging out Jeff Curran and hopes to pick off more top competition as he builds up to the title that eluded him.

While Mizugaki is a strong fighter in every sense, Scott Jorgensen improves leaps and bounds in each appearance. The Idaho native’s wrestling pedigree should be enough to negate Mizugaki’s and dictate whether the fight stays standing or hits the mat.

FIGHT! Pick: Jorgensen.

Joseph Benavidez (-185) vs Rani Yahya (+155)

Joseph Benavidez was shaping up to the Urijah Faber of 135-pounds until until he ran into Dominick Cruz’s physical and cerebral game while Rani Yahya, one of the world’s best submission grapplers, has quietly been tapping out quality opponents on WEC preliminary bouts after losing his chance at the title in 2007.

Benavidez surprised by staying in Jeff Curran’s guard and taking the fight from there; however, that’s not a luxury he has against Yahya. The single-minded Rickson Gracie disciple wants only to submit opponents and if given the opportunity, he will. Benavidez must not strike in his typical shoot-from-the-hip style to avoid takedowns. Wrestling is his advantage in this contest and Yahya’s striking deficiencies can get him hurt.

FIGHT! Pick: Yahya.

Recap
Donald Cerrone (-500) vs Ed Ratcliff (+300)
FIGHT! Pick: Cerrone.
Chris Horodecki (+150) vs Anthony Njokuani (-180)
FIGHT! Pick: Njokuani.
Takeya Mizugaki (-155) vs Scott Jorgensen (+125)
FIGHT! Pick: Jorgensen.

Joseph Benavidez (-185) vs Rani Yahya (+155)
FIGHT! Pick: Yahya.
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