The Basement Breakdown has moved itself to the great state of Virginia for the next few months. Virginia is not exactly a mixed martial arts hotbed, but is a state where the sport is sanctioned. Alright, enough about the VA. This is a big weekend for the WEC. As the newest acquisition to Zuffa’s growing dynasty, the new WEC will be a real player in the world of mma if it is able to reach Zuffa’s lofty goals. This first show under new management features top notch fighters like Urijah Faber, Rob McCullough, Carlos Condit, and John Alessio. The card also features big time up and comers like muay thai fighter Kit Cope, Joe Pearson, Rich Crunkilton, and Logan Clark.
WEC Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Championship Bout
"Razor" Rob McCullough vs. Kit Cope
"Razor" Rob McCullough comes into this title fight on a seven fight winning streak. McCullough is 13-3 in mma overall and has recent victories over Harris Sarmiento (decision), Ryan Healy (cut), Randy Haver (tko), Olaf Alfonso (ko), Gabe Rivas (submission), Jeremy Jones (tko), and Andrew Williams (tko). "Razor" is a long time training partner of Tito Ortiz and is a exciting fighter who has excelled in good ole fashion ground and pound.
Kit Cope is a top notch Muay Thai practitioner. Cope is best known for having his muay thai training and matches be filmed and shown as part of the MTV series True Life. Cope is only 1-3 in mixed martial arts. He holds a TKO victory over Mike Lucero, but lost in outings against Kenny Florian (rear-naked choke), Tiki Ghosen (tko), and William Sriyrapai (rear-naked choke).
This is Rob McCullough’s fight to lose. There is a size advantage for Cope as he is 6 foot, whereas McCullough is only 5 foot 9 inches. However, size will not be the key to this fight, it will be the game plan for both fighters. Standing with a muay thai artist like Kit Cope would not be in "Razor" Rob’s best interests. If he chooses to do so, he might find himself in a stand up battled that will put himself in deep water. I fully expect for McCullough to engage with Cope on the feet early, before taking the fight to the floor. Cope’s only shot at winning is to catch McCullough early with a knee or a punch or spend three rounds stuffing the takedown attempts and landing shots. On the floor, McCullough will have a major advantage and will use his ground and pound to work for submissions. This fight ends in the second round when McCullough sinks is a kimura for the victory and the title.
WEC Featherweight (145 lb. limit) Championship Bout
Urijah Faber vs. Joe Pearson
Urijah Faber aka the "California Kid" is 16-1 in mixed martial arts and has reeled off eight straight victories since losing to Tyson Griffin in 2005. Faber has recent victories over Bibiano Fernandes (cut), Enoch Wilson (tko), Naoya Vematsu (tko), Charlie Valencia (rear-naked choke), and Cole Escovedo (tko). Faber has become a force to be reckoned with in the last two years and has been able to establish himself as one of the top 145 pound fighters in the world.
Joe Pearson hails from the Miletich Camp and has a mixed martial arts record of 17-7-1. At 5 foot 10 inches, Pearson is a giant at 145 pounds. Pearson has won his last seven fights, with the biggest victory of his career coming at Pride: Bushido 13, when he defeated Yoshiro Maeda by guillotine choke. Pearson is a deadly submission fighter with fifteen of his seventeen wins coming by way of submission.
This has the makings to be a great fight. Faber is giving up four inches in height, which will also give Pearson a huge advantage with his reach. Faber is going to want this fight on the floor, but Pearson has been able to finish fifteen opponents there, so this fight will come down to who can gain the dominate position. Faber has been quoted recently about how much he has been working on his boxing, but Faber will have to get through Pearson’s reach, which will be no easy task. Pearson is going to want to use his jab and try to pick at Faber, and hope to hurt him. If Pearson can stuff early takedown attempts and land some shots, Pearson will then try to take the fight to the floor and work for submissions. Faber was out of control and frustrated in the bout against Tyson Griffin and that lead to his only defeat in his career. This fight could be a very frustrating night for Faber. However, I firmly believe the California Kid is just a better athlete and will be able to score takedowns and issue some ground and pound in every round. This fight goes the distance, with Faber earning himself a hard fought win.
Carlos Condit vs. Kyle Jensen
Carlos Condit is 18-4 in mixed martial arts. He comes into this fight on a three fight win streak, with wins over Tatsunori Tanka (ko by stomps), Takaya Wada (kimura), and Koji Oishi (cut). His fight resume includes wins over Frank Trigg (arm-triangle choke), Renato Verrissimo (tko) and a decision loss to Jake Shields.
Kyle Jensen is 29-9-1 in mixed martial arts and enters the cage on Saturday on a four fight win streak. Jensen has recently defeated Joe Winterfeldt (rear-naked choke), Lee Lohff (armbar), Nate Homme (tko), and James Fuller (rear-naked choke). His fight resume includes loses to Jason Black (rear-naked choke), Josh Neer (armbar), and Jon Fitch (decision).
Condit will defeat Jensen by arm-triangle choke in the second round. This fight will be competitive, but Condit is a more skilled and smooth fighter. Jensen will be able to push Condit, but Condit’s skills will be too much.
John Alessio vs. Brian Gassaway
John "The Natural" Alessio is 17-9 in mixed martial arts. Alessio made his UFC debut way back at UFC 26 against Pat Miletich, where he came up short and lost by armbar. Alessio is 3-3 in his last six fights with wins over Alex Serdyokov (rear-naked choke), Savant Young (rear-naked choke), and Shannon Ritch (tko) and losses to Thiago Alves (decision), Diego Sanchez (decision), and Jonathan Goulet (decision).
Brian Gassaway is 22-15-2 in mixed martial arts and is also 3-3 in his last six fights. Gassaway lost to Donnie Liles (rear-naked choke), Joey Clark (decision), and Diego Sanchez (tko) and has victories over Sam Jackson (tko), Jamie Toney (decision), and Trevor Garrett (rear-naked choke).
I like Alessio in this fight. Had Alessio not been just content will stuffing takedown attempts by Diego Sanchez and went on the attack, he might have found his name amongst the UFC welterweight title contenders. Alessio has had ups and downs in his career but his is a very dangerous fighter and will submit Gassaway with a rear-naked choke early in the third round. Gassaway has not looked good in a very long time and does not match up well with Alessio. Alessio by rear-naked choke in round three.
Rich "Cleat" Crunkiliton (13-2) will render Mike Joy (3-1) unconscious midway through the first round with a big right hand. The victory will put "Cleat" into contention for a WEC Lightweight title shot.
Alex Karalexis (7-2) will improve his mixed martial arts record to 8-2 when he knocks out Olaf Alfonso (5-6) late in the first round. Alfonso has a habit of getting knocked out and has lost viva the KO four times. The heavy handed Bostonian will raise that number to five.
Brendan Seguin (12-10-1) will be handed his eleventh loss of his career by way of ground and pound in round two at the hands of up and comer Fernando Gonzalez (10-2). Gonzalez could be a major player in the WEC’s 185 pound division in the near future.
Antonio Banuelos (12-3) will earn his thirteenth victory by taking a decision victory over Mike French (4-5). Banuelos could find himself in a title match with Urijah Faber for the 145 pound belt later in the year.
Logan Clark (5-0) will stay undefeated, as he will earn a TKO victory over Blas Avena (1-1) in round three.