World Extreme Cagefighting's swan song certainly looks to be a good one. Two titles will be on the line in the WEC's final show as it presents "WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis." The show will air live on Versus.
Here is what your fearless MMA For Real prognosticators see happening come Thursday night from Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
Lightweight Championship: Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Matt Bishop - This is an interesting fight. You have the solid game of Ben Henderson against the flashy striking of Anthony Pettis. Henderson has rapidly improved and has made a name for himself in the WEC by defeating its two best lightweights, Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner, in convincing fashion. Henderson has faced much more pressure in his WEC run than Pettis has, there's no debate about that. If Henderson takes Pettis down, can Pettis throw up something off his back like he has so many times prior? Or can Henderson control him? On the feet, you have to like Pettis. This is going to be a very interesting fight. We know Henderson can go five rounds. Can Pettis? Looking forward to this one. Henderson via submission, round 4.
Rich Wyatt - Look for Ben Henderson to try and smother Pettis by using the clinch game to setup takedowns and do some work on the ground. Henderson stays active on the ground so Pettis will have to be on the defensive. According to some sources, Pettis has improved his wrestling ability tremendously over the past couple of years so he has a real opportunity here. This one is for a shot at the world championship, something most fighters never even come close to. Both fighters better come ready to give the best effort of their career. I guess I'll go with Ben in this, the last WEC matchup. Henderson def. Pettis by decision.
Bantamweight Championship: Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen
Matt Bishop - Another intriguing fight, but to me, this one is a bit more one-sided. Jorgensen has earned a title shot, no doubt, but I see him struggling mightily with Cruz. Jorgensen's striking has never been top notch and Cruz is going to expose him in this area while fending off Jorgensen's takedowns. You know Cruz will be on his bicycle and will use that to his advantage to pepper Jorgensen for 25 minutes. Cruz by decision.
Rich Wyatt - Dominick Cruz is perhaps one of the more underrated fighters in MMA. The guy has consistently won at a very high level and he systematically picks opponents apart standing. Dominick might not be the best finisher in the game but he implements an effective game plan, mixing up punches and kicks to the head and body efficiently. He does all of this while using lateral movement and distance effectively. And if all that weren't enough, the guy seems to be fairly durable and not easily rattled. Having said that, the reason I'm picking the challenger here is because I'm anticipating that Jorgenson might be able to take Cruz down enough (and keep him down long enough) to squeak out a few rounds and pull off the upset. My pick is based more on how I feel that the fighters matchup stylistically. I'm making quite an assumption by forecasting that Jorgenson can implement this game plan, but I'll pick the upset here. Jorgenson def. Cruz by decision.
Matt Bishop - On our WEC 53 preview show Wednesday, I picked Chris Horodecki to beat Donald Cerrone. I was summarily roasted by everyone involved. MMA For Real community member Brian Mayes said, "that might be the worst fight prediction I've ever heard." Well here it is. I think Cerrone is going to have a letdown. After such an emotion fight against Jamie Varner in September, I don't see how Cerrone can top that effort. Horodecki is going to take full advantage of that. Cerrone is going to want to stand and bang and he's going to get caught. I'm either going to be the smartest man alive or the dumbest man alive (save your jokes). Horodecki by TKO, round 2.
Rich Wyatt - Chris Horodecki strikes me as a fighter that is competing one weight class too high (although his impressive 16-2 record could easily be used against my argument). Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those fans that insist everyone cut unhealthy amounts of weight to drop down as low as humanly possible. That is often counterproductive. It's just that he looks to me like he has the frame of a featherweight. Perhaps the loss coming tomorrow will help him rethink his stay at 155 pounds. Cerrone def. Horodecki by TKO in the 2nd round.
Matt Bishop - Kamal Shalorus impressed me, even in what should've been a losing effort against Varner back in June. He showed a lot of toughness and a real durable chin against a hard hitter. Bart Palaszewski is a veteran of the sport, but I think he only has one area to win this fight: Off his back. Now, he could outpoint the wild Shalorus, but I don't see that happening. If Shalorus takes him down, Palaszewski needs to be active off his back, although he's going to have to do so against a good wrestler. I don't see him being successful there. Shalorus by decision.
Rich Wyatt - I see frustration in Bart Palaszewski's immediate future. He's an experienced veteran and it is possible that he might harness that experience and catch Shalorus with something early, but I see the majority of this fight occurring on the ground, especially after Shalorus wasted a golden opportunity in a Draw against Varner during the summer. That fight saw Kamal get away from what he does best. My guess is that he won't do that again. Shalorus def. Palaszewski by decision.