Picks and Predictions for WEC 39: Don’t Forget The Little Guys

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

With all the shenanigans going on in Zuffa’s other product, this card has been severely overlooked, especially considering it features a fight for what amounts to the world championship of a division that is set to explode this year. Leaving aside the WEC, the fact that Japan is going to be crowning two featherweight tournament champions is going to lead to endless speculation about inter-promotional champion vs. champion fights by the end of the year, none of which will happen, sadly.

But for the here-and-now, we have a very electrifying lineup for this WEC card, featuring talented, action-oriented fighters that are definitely going to put on a show. There are even a few lines worth betting on. Although I traditionally bet through bodog and bookmaker, BetUS has recently allowed us to enter (and win) their MMA pundit picking pools, so I must give a shout out to them. Plus if you open an account there through this link, it’s more coin in my pocket. Just remember, the more books you have accounts with, the better you can line-shop, which is really 50% of being a winning sports bettor.

Champ Mike Brown (-185) vs. Leonard Garcia (+160) (for featherweight belt)

Leonard Garcia can’t wrestle and is too aggressive with his striking, and these two factors combine to land him in absolutely terrible positions very frequently. Despite Garcia’s purported skills, Cole Miller put on a jiu-jitsu clinic on him and had him in dozens of tight submissions, which is also a testament to his resilience. Despite having a lot of heart and willpower, on top of a great chin, Garcia fades badly because of his extreme aggression and wildness, eventually giving up on actually controlling the fight and reducing himself to wining ever-more-desperate haymakers and getting dumped onto his back. Garcia’s response to getting hit is to flail back, which works to some degree because he has very good power and an excellent chin, but it’s also worth noting that Garcia’s recent run is entirely based on two quick victories, both over opponents with dodgy defense or chins.

Brown has never been knocked out, but Garcia has the power to change that if Brown lets himself get hit. Faber landed a couple good punches on him, but Faber is (at this point) a much slicker boxer than Garcia, who doesn’t work around his opponent’s defense so much as attempt to club through it. That said, I think that Brown will come out on the losing end of any protracted striking exchanges, so hopefully he won’t have KO fever after flooring Faber. If Brown comes in intelligently, he should be able to close the distance, dump Garcia onto the mat, and use his physical advantages and superior grappling to control the fight from there. After several rounds of desperately defending himself, Garcia will eventually be too gassed and overwhelmed, and give up a submission or simply be pounded into it. Mike Brown Submission round 4.

Many people are taking Garcia as the underdog, thinking that his punching power will be the equalizer, but I think that Brown is too skilled to make Garcia a good play unless the odds get much longer. There may be a slight edge in Brown at -185, but there are better opportunities on the card, so I’m going to sit this one out.

Ricardo Lamas (+260) vs. Bart Palaszewski (-280)

The storyline here is pretty clear. Late replacement gets stomped by Bart Palszewski, an experienced and reasonably good fighter. The only wrinkle is that Lamas is a talented prospect who may become a good fighter in the future, rather than the typically hopeless replacement one often sees. That only makes it worse, however, because Bart is just that much more experienced here, so Lamas is going to run into a wall very early when he finds out that Bart isn’t afraid of him and can meet and exceed his skills. Bart Palaszewski KO round 1.

Jose Aldo (-800) vs. Chris Mickle (+650)

Mickle is entirely dependent on his submissions to win fights, and Aldo is probably a better grappler than he is. That doesn’t give him much hope, given that Aldo is a far better striker as well and will probably force a standing fight. Unless Mickle can land a huge haymaker, this is likely going to be little more than a two minute demonstration from Aldo. Jose Aldo KO round 1.

Marcus Hicks (+125) vs. Rob McCullough (-145)
Some pundits are dismissing Razor Rob as a fighter after his last three fights. I think that’s very shortsighted. In Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone Rob simply fought fighters that are at a level of talent above his, and he acquitted himself well in both fights despite getting hammered, dropping Cerrone several times and threatening him at all points. Against Kenneth Alexander, Rob fought a very intelligent fight, stopping Alexander’s takedowns and scoring points on the feet. It showed that Rob can do more than balls-to-the-wall brawling exchanges, and it’s exactly the skills he’ll need to beat Marcus Hicks. Hicks will be at a reach disadvantage, compounded by the big advantages Rob will hold in power and technique on the feet. Hicks doesn’t always do the best job defending himself, although he does have an excellent chin, so Rob will be able to counter him and beat him up, weakening his already poor defenses until he can simply overwhelm a damaged Hicks. Rob McCullough TKO round 2.

If you can get Rob at -145, take it. He is being undervalued so take him for a play. He only loses this fight if Hicks Guillotines him unconscious.

Marcos Galvao (+130) vs. Damacio Page (-150)

Damacio Page has some major defensive liabilities when it comes to submissions, and Galvao has previously had trouble working his submissions in MMA, although many of his opponents are pretty strong defensively on the ground. I think that Galvao can snap that streak here and get a piece of Page’s arm or neck for a finish Marcos Galvao by submission round 2.

This is a close fight but there’s enough of an edge for a small play.

Johny Hendricks (-310) vs. Alex Serdyukov (+285)
I’m not overly familiar with either fighter here, but Serdyukov has looked like a talented fighter in what fights I’ve been able to see of him, and Hendricks doesn’t look especially better than him. Hendricks will have a wrestling advantage that will let him control the fight, but Serdyukov will likely be more of a submission threat as well as more effective on the feet. With that combination, I have to think Serdyukov has a very good chance of catching Hendricks and finishing him off one way or the other. This is a fight that could easily swing either way, but the styles give a slight edge to Serdyukov in my opinion. Alex Serdyukov by submission round 2.

While the odds are vastly favorable if one expects Serdyukov to win outright, the extreme variability in this play (Serdyukov is either going to catch him or not) combined with the very limited amount of information we’re working with mean this is only a small play for me.

Alex Karalexis (-195) vs. Greg McIntyre (+160)

Karalexis, a guy with a reasonable amount of skill but no sparkling talent to make him a top fighter in any division in any major promotion, will easily handle a scrub with no victories over anyone with any amount of talent. Alex Karalexis by KO round 2.

This fight is good for a unit on Karalexis.

1u on Karalexis to win .51u
.5u on Galvao to win .6u
2u on Rob McCullough to win 1.29u
.5u on Serdyukov to win 1.3u

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?