(Urijah Faber: Never a dull moment.)
Though EliteXC’s CBS show is grabbing most of the attention for this weekend, WEC is putting on its biggest event to date on Sunday at Sacramento’s ARCO Arena, headlined by the monumental featherweight championship match between Urijah Faber and Jens Pulver, and also featuring Miguel Torres, “Razor” Rob McCullough, Jeff Curran, Chase Beebe, and Charlie Valencia. If you get Versus, you can watch the action live starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. — and judging from recent WEC shows, missing it wouldn’t be in your best interest. Let’s take a look at the four main card fights…
Urijah Faber [champion] vs. Jens Pulver (featherweight title fight)
Don’t let his beautiful anaconda choke of Cub Swanson at WEC 31 fool you — Jens Pulver is still a stand-up banger, and his greatest advantage over the California Kid is his dynamite-loaded striking. Faber will probably try to trade shots for a while, but he’ll eventually employ his superior wrestling to get the fight to the mat and look for a submission or ground-and-pound TKO. If Faber can neutralize Pulver’s boxing and avoid getting caught early, the hometown boy’s relentless aggression and inventiveness will win the day. Prediction: Faber via 3rd-round submission.
Miguel Torres [champion] vs. Yoshiro Maeda (bantamweight title fight)
Miguel Torres owns one of the most impressive records in MMA (33-1, 21 wins via submission), but he didn’t start getting name-checked as one of the best fighters in the world until he tore through Chase Beebe in February to win WEC’s bantamweight title. Torres has never been stopped, and he avenged his sole loss to Ryan Ackerman in 2003 by submitting him two years later. Known more as a striker, Maeda is a seasoned veteran of Pancrase and DEEP, and made his impressive U.S. debut at WEC 32 when he delivered a knockout body-kick to Charlie Valencia midway through the first round. It’ll be a tough test for Torres, but he’s looked incredibly impressive in his last few matches, and he’s got enough momentum to defend his belt. Prediction: Torres extends his streak of five-straight submission victories to six, and does it in the second round.
Chuck Grigsby vs. Mark Munoz (light heavyweights)
Mark Munoz’s 3-0 record might not say much, but he certainly has the right people around him. A former assistant coach for the wrestling team of University of California-Davis, Munoz counts Urijah Faber as a friend and mentor, and has been preparing for his first WEC fight with Tito Ortiz. Chuck Grigbsy — a 6’6″ former pro basketball player in Europe — may look imposing, but all three of his losses come against stronger wrestlers, and his current eight-fight win streak doesn’t seem so impressive when you consider that the combined record of those opponents is 11-26. Prediction: A Team Punishment-approved steamrolling; first-round TKO victory for Munoz.
Rob McCullough vs. Kenneth Alexander (lightweights)
These two actually met before at a HFP event in March 2002, early in their careers. Alexander won that bout by decision, but then their lives diverged drastically — McCullough fought his way to five straight wins in the WEC and took the organization’s lightweight title (which he lost to Jamie Varner at WEC 32), while Alexander, a Staff Sergeant in the Marines, left the country to do two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and two in Iraq. Alexander returned to MMA competition in 2007 with two submission victories; though he lost his WEC debut against Donald Cerrone last September, the fight was deemed a no-contest by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after Cerrone tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic. Though Alexander is eager to re-establish himself at lightweight, McCullough is no longer a novice fighter, and is a proven fight-finisher. Alexander may be a bit outmatched here. Prediction: Razor Rob by TKO, round 2.
And here’s what the undercard looks like:
Donald Cerrone vs. Danny Castillo (lightweights)
Jeff Curran vs. Mike Brown (featherweights)
Chase Beebe vs. Will Ribeiro (bantamweights)
Tim McKenzie vs. Jeremy Lang (middleweights)
Alex Serdyukov vs. Luis Sapo (welterweights)
Jose Aldo vs. Alexandre Franca Nogueira (featherweights)
Charlie Valencia vs. Dominick Cruz (bantamweights)
For more on WEC 34, check out versus.com/faberpulver.