Picks and Predictions for WEC 43: Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Beset by injuries, network negotiations, delays, and the other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, WEC 43 will finally come to pass this Saturday, October 10. While it lacks the star power and sterling fights of some more recent WEC cards, the reality is that one or two wins in WEC is enough to put someone into title contention, so every fight on this card could be seen as a title eliminator, and with MMA’s lighter weight classes still coalescing out of the primordial mists, the time is still ripe for elite fighters to come out of nowhere.

Donald Cerrone (-350) vs. Benson Henderson (+300) (for WEC interim lightweight title)


There’s something wrong with Donald Cerrone’s brain. Despite a very fancy and dangerous offensive game, he still thinks the coolest thing to do is walk straight into punches, just to show he can take them. That’s what happens when X-games types get into MMA, I guess. Teammate Keith Jardine probably wishes he could take the kind of punishment Cerrone can. Macho heroics aside, Cerrone is everything one could ask for in terms of offense, aggression, and cardio. He’s also one of those fighters that doesn’t become much less dangerous when put on his back, with a hyper-aggressive guard game that makes taking him down to avoid his striking an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” scenario.

Benson Henderson better be ready for the fire, because it’s clear that he doesn’t want to be in the frying pan. Although he eventually crumpled Shane Roller for a stoppage, he narrowly escaped being absolutely blasted himself in that fight, and Cerrone is much more dangerous on the feet than Roller. Henderson, being a smart and thoughtful guy, realizes this and has basically said in interviews that he wants nothing to do at all with Cerrone standing.

Cerrone has horrible, horrible wrestling. He just doesn’t care where he goes, so he just wilds out and tries to do back somersaults etc. instead of sprawling, or tries to fall into an omoplata or something. So, whenever Henderson can get past Cerrone’s reach advantage (which won’t be too hard to shoot under, since Cerrone basically stands in place throwing strikes, walks forward like the terminator throwing strikes, or moves straight backwards and leans away) he will take Cerrone down with no problems.

Unfortunately for Henderson, Cerrone is very tough and will be extremely difficult to submit, so he will likely have to ride Cerrone for 25 minutes without being destroyed on the feet or caught on the ground. It’s really hard to see that happening, but it’s possible. Similarly, while Benson isn’t a fabulous striker, he does have natural athletic power in his hands, so Cerrone’s habit of attracting every fist to his face like a magnet could finally catch up to him here, but every other opponent has tagged Cerrone clean without finishing him off, so it’s unlikely.

I fully expect Henderson to be able to steal rounds off Cerrone, but 25 minutes is a long time to spend in the cage with a firecracker like Cerrone without being finished. Jamie Varner did it, mostly with takedowns, but Varner has a good chin and has the hands to throw with Cerrone and get the better of him, which Henderson does not have. This is a closer fight than the lines indicate, but Cerrone has to be favorites. Donald Cerrone by TKO round 3.

With such long odds on Henderson, he represents a good bet for a small play.

Dave Jansen (-105) vs. Richard Crunkilton Jr. (-115)


There’s no real point breaking down this fight in an in-depth and careful way. If Crunkilton comes in his best form and doesn’t get injured, he should win by beating up Jansen. If the 18-month layoff makes him rusty, or if he just doesn’t have it anymore, then Jansen will tap him out. Being a natural cynic, I think Crunkilton’s time in the sun is over and Jansen will handle him. Jansen by submission round 1.

Will Campuzano (+280) vs. Damacio Page (-340)


This is one of the downsides to the youth of WEC’s bantamweight division and the opportunities new fighters get to challenge top opposition. In this case, Campuzano, an undefeated fighter that has been fighting as a pro for little more than a year, will get the opportunity to have his brains completely blasted by one of the division’s hardest hitters. After the very frightening knockout Page put on Marcus Galvao, one has to be a little concerned for a fighter like Campuzano taking this enormous step up in competition. It’s very likely that he is completely unready for such a quantum leap in opposition and will be badly smashed. Page by KO round 1.

Raphael Assuncao (-500) vs. Yves Jabouin (+415)

Assuncao is an elite grappler with the kind of well-rounded skill that make many believe he is the future of this division. Jabouin is a good striker with the kind of takedown and submission defense that means he will have to rely on the Art Jimmerson “shot on the way in” to have any hope of winning this fight. Unless Assuncao has a complete meltdown and decides to strike the whole fight, or Jabouin has made some kind of enormous improvement in his wrestling and kept it a secret, this is going to be a first-round submission victory for Assuncao. Assuncao by submission round 1.

Muhsin Corbbrey (+200) vs. Anthony Njokuani (-220)


Anthony Njokuani surprised many fans in Chicago when he dropped a whole load of muay thai all over hometown hero Bart Palaszewski’s face at WEC 40. While Anthony has submission liabilities, Corbbrey is a standup fighter first and foremost, so you can look forward to more of the same in this bout. He’ll take a while to get warmed up, but once he gets into a rhythm, he’ll be destructive. Njokuani by KO round 2.

Scott Jorgensen (-345) vs. Noah Thomas (+285)


Thomas has improved his game immensely since his appearance on TUF, most notably by fighting at his proper weight class. However, Jorgensen is a legitimate contender that will have a pronounced size and strength advantage, as well as the skills to stay out of Noah’s tricky submissions and work him over. When Thomas gets beat on and pushed hard, he ends up getting finished, so don’t be surprised if a couple dominant rounds for the talented Jorgensen lead to a late submission. Jorgensen by decision.

Wagnney Fabiano (-735) vs. Mackens Semerzier (+535)

What is WEC to do with Wagnny Fabiano if teammate Jose Aldo is champion? Tough question, and letting him arm-triangle neophytes is not really going to answer it. Mackens needs about 3 years more experience before he’s ready to even be competitive in this fight. Wagnney Fabiano by submission (arm triangle) round 1.

Manny Tapia (-140) vs. Eddie Wineland (+120)


Tapia is a ground and pounder that fell in love with his hands and has most recently been fighting like some kind of slugger. That hasn’t worked well for him since he is a midget even for 135 and doesn’t have the skills in his hands to make up for it. Wineland is not a particularly great fighter, but he’s a better wrestler than Tapia and has the chops to take him down and pick up rounds against a fighter that decidedly lacks in-cage smarts. Wineland is very prone to error and getting himself finished, so this fight is close to a wash. Whoever throws it away least will end up taking it home. Eddie Wineland by decision.

Charlie Valencia (-325) vs. Coty Wheeler (+275)


Valencia has some serious explosion packed into his miniscule frame. Expect him to dictate the terms of the fight, forcing a standup fight where the pop in his hands spells doom for Coty. Charlie Valencia by TKO round 2.

Deividas Taurosevicius (-140) vs. Javier Vazquez (+110)


This is a very bad style matchup for Vazquez. Vazquez makes hay off his slick and sudden submission game, but he will be overpowered and controlled by a physical powerhouse in Taurosevicius, who has grappling to nullify Vazquez’s offense and wear him down throughout the fight. This might be the curtain call for showtime. Taurosevicius by decision.

My plays:
.5u on Benson Henderson at (+300) to win 1.5u


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