Justin Bullock's In-Depth WEC 29 Preview Column

WEC 29 Preview
Written by Justin Bullock


Ever since the WEC debuted on the Versus (VS) channel it has felt like a breath of fresh air. To many fans like myself there are not enough well produced mixed martial arts shows available for consumption. Shows like the now defunct WFA's lone attempt to get back into the mix and K-1's recent trip to the LA Coliseum are prime examples of what not to do.

The production quality of the WEC rivals that of the UFC (which is no surprise considering Zuffa owns both companies), hell, the WEC might as well be the UFC inside of a blue cage except for two key differences: the commentating team of Tony Bass and Frank Mir and the highly exciting lower weight classes instead of a heavyweight division.

While I enjoy Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan and I consider them the best commentating team since Bas Rutten and Mauro Renallo, it can get a little old hearing the same “meteoric rise” and “Unbelievable!” comments. Todd Harris is excellent as the lead commentator and Frank Mir, except for a few Goldie-esque moments of his own from time-to-time, does a decent job too even if he looks like a deer in the headlights during most of his post-fight interviews.

And about the lower weight classes: if you think that the lightweights at 155 lbs. are pure action, wait until you get a chance to see the featherweights (145 lbs.) and bantamweights (135 lbs.) in action. You will have your chance to see some featherweight action this weekend when Jeff Curran takes on Stephen Ledbetter in a match-up to be featured on the televised portion of the event. As always when you're talking about a fight in the featherweight division, it could be the fight of the night.

But it will have some stiff competition in the two title fights that headline the card: Carlos Condit vs Brock Larson for the WEC Welterweight Title and Paulo Filho vs Joe Doerksen for the vacant WEC Middleweight Title. All in all it should be a very satisfying event, especially considering that it is free for anybody w/ the Versus channel.

Here is my breakdown of the main card:

-Jamie Varner vs. Sherron Leggett – Lightweight (155 lbs)

Varner is making his WEC debut after migrating from the UFC for greener pastures. He won his last fight against Jason Gilliam in impressive fashion and even though he lost the fight before that to Hermes Franca by submission, he was dominating the entire fight up until he got caught. Leggett is looking to give Varner a rude introduction to the WEC and also add to his impressive nine fight winning streak. Having won most of his fights by TKO, this fight is going to come down to whoever can implement their gameplan successfully. Unfortunately for Leggett I think that person will be Varner. It should be a good fight, but I see Varner taking it to the mat and winning by submission either late in the first or early in the third.

-Jeff Curran vs. Stephen Ledbetter – Featherweight (145 lbs)

In what is almost sure to be an exciting fight, I see Curran submitting Ledbetter. Curran has fought some decent competition and has racked up a series of impressive wins, one of the most notable being a submission victory over the always entertaining “Crazy Horse” Charles Bennett, while Ledbetter is still in the infancy of his MMA career having fought most of his fights for the fledgling Wild Bill's Fight Night promotion.

-Paulo Filho vs. Joe Doerksen for the vacant MW Championship

I know I am not the only one to see Paulo Filho back in action. The last time we saw him was almost a year ago in Pride FC when he looked like he was in the final stages of blowing through the Middleweight Tournament. He had just subbed Misaki in the semi-finals of the 2006 WW Grand Prix and was set to face Denis Kang later the same night in the final before he was forced to pull out due to an injury. Misaki went on to beat Denis Kang (who ironically had been injured in his semi-final fight as well) in a lackluster unanimous decision that left many fans underwhelmed and believing that Filho would have won the entire tournament if he hadn't gotten injured. It is going to be interesting to see how he looks against Doerksen coming off of that injury. Filho is simply amazing on the ground (he actually has an armbar variation named after him) and you can bet that is where he is going to want the fight to end up. Doerksen is no slouch either, but in my opinion his strengths play into Filho's. Almost every fight Joe has won he has won by submission and call me crazy but I don't see “El Dirte” subbing Paulo Filho. The only way I see Doerksen leaving the new WEC Middleweight Champion is if he either wins by decision or some fluke KO. Look for Filho to put it on him through superior BJJ and get the sub by the latter end of the second round, becoming the new WEC Middlewieght Champion.

-Carlos Condit vs. Brock Larson for the WW Championship

This fight was already supposed to have happened in June but Carlos Condit had to pull out shortly before the fight due to injury. A replacement by the name of Kevin Knabjan was sent in against Larson; he was demolished. In one of the most primal looking TKOs I have ever seen, Larson dropped Knabjan with a straight left, literally flew through the air and tackled him as he was trying to recover, and pummeled him until the ref mercifully stepped in. After the fight he called out Carlos once again and almost two months later to the day he will get his wish. But like anything, be careful what you wish for. Condit is very dangerous. He has great submissions and he works well off of his back. He had an excellent run in the Rumble on the Rock tournament a few years back – getting a TKO victory over Renato Verissimo and submitting Frank Trigg in the semi-finals before he dropped a unanimous decision to Jake Shields in the same night – and the way he kept reversing John Alessio and eventually subbed him late in the second in his last title defense was a perfect display of his skills and what you can expect when you see one of his fights. This is really a hard fight to call. On the one hand you have Larson who has been walking through almost everyone he has fought except for Jon Fitch (his only loss), and on the other hand you have a very crafty veteran who is accustomed to using his opponent's own aggression against them in Carlos Condit. Larson always comes out looking to finish the fight quickly and so does Condit – both have finished the majority of their fights in the first round. Carlos has faced tougher competition, but who knows how much that will matter because it's not like Brock Larson has lost to anybody who wouldn't be considered at or on Condit's level. While Carlos' experience could play a big part in the fight, I am going to have to go w/ Larson. The guy has been looking unstoppable lately and I don't think Condit will have much luck either. It really could go either way, but I think Larson will be too much for the reigning champ and will put him away in the championship rounds. Brock Larson by TKO or submission, round 4.


There are a some notable matches on the undercard including: Tiki Gohsn vs. Blas Avena, Logan Clark vs. Eric Schambari and Steven Cantwell vs. Justin McElfresh. If the the June show is any indication of how the WEC live events are going to be paced, there is a good chance that we see at least two or three other matches besides the four fights that are guaranteed to be shown.

It is going to be an interesting to see how Filho looks in the cage and if he loses it will be even more interesting because just about every Pride fan boy has labeled him as the number one middleweight in the world.

All in all it should be a great night for the sport. You can't beat it when you get to see MMA for free on television, let alone two title fights in one night.

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