Star Urijah Faber makes his return to the cage for the first time since April and makes his debut at a new weight class Thursday when World Extreme Cagefighting presents one of it's final events: "WEC 52: Faber vs. Mizugaki" which will be live from The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas.
The five-fight main card airs live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Versus.
Here's what your fearless MMA For Real prognosticators see happening during the WEC's second-to-last event:
Matt Bishop - This should be a real barnburner. I'm looking forward to this one for obvious reasons: Seeing Faber at 135, seeing Mizugaki and to see how these two mesh against each other. This will be a challenge for Faber but the WEC isn't booking him in a fight he's going to lose. Faber via decision.
Charles Walker - I always remember Mizugaki from that war he had with Miguel Torres and how he took a beating and kept coming, which is the one thing that sort of keeps me on the fence with this one. Mizugaki's tough and he can unload on an opponent, however, the key thing is he's rather predictable and if Faber doesn't lose any of his trademark speed with the cut he should be able to land and land often on Mizugaki. I see this basically being a good back and forth with Faber able to rack up points with takedowns and punishment given on the feet. However, I do not see the 'California Kid' getting a stoppage in this one, so I'll do my usual - Faber via decision.
Rich Wyatt - Soon Urijah Faber and several of his co-workers will be on their way to the UFC. I'm guessing that the long-time WEC posterboy will put on a show in this, his final WEC fight. At the end of the day, I just think that Urijah is quicker and more explosive than his opponent and that this will help him build up a commanding edge in points on his way to victory. Faber by decision.
Forrest Lynn - Faber is too physical, too experienced, too motivated. This is the first step on Faber's path to likely superstardom, and I don't expect him to squander the opportunity. Faber via decision.
Matt Bishop - Interesting fight here. The hope here is Vazquez will challenge Mendes from his back, as Mendes has come to be known for exerting himself via top control. Vazquez is a skilled jiu-jitsu player, but is he strong enough to stop the "bully" Mendes from controlling him or think twice about taking him down by getting a close submission? This is a great test for Mendes at this stage of his career and I think he comes through. Mendes via decision.
Charles Walker - I like Vazquez and he's had a pretty tough road in the WEC, Mendes however is the guy they WANT to showcase in this fight. He's going to obviously display his bread and butter, his wrestling, but the question is whether he can neutralize Vazquez for 15 minute without Vazquez grabbing one of his limbs and squeezing until he taps? I do think this will be a pretty evenly matched fight but I do think judges have a tendency to favor whoever's in top position and I do not see Vazquez being able to do much otherwise. Therefore, I'll go with Mendes via decision.
Rich Wyatt - Chad Mendes has the potential here to make many fans forget about his recent less-than-stellar performance. Mendes, believed by many to be a possible future world title challenger, will need to be very careful against a very solid veteran here. I look for Mendes to establish some top control, do just enough to avoid submissions and score with some ground and pound. Mendes by decision.
Forrest Lynn - Mendes, at this point, is very unsure of himself in the cage. He displays a good acumen for striking, but a fear to commit to it. He also displays a good acumen for grappling, but a hesitancy to take any risks or attempt to pass guard. I think we see more of the same, with Mendes attempting to avoid scrambles and submission attempts by Vazquez. Mendes by a top control based decision.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Wagnney Fabiano
Matt Bishop - Another good fight. The bloom came off the rose a bit with Fabiano when he was submitted at his own game by Mackens Semerzier last year. He's rebounded with two pedestrian decision wins, but Benevidez, who nearly was the bantamweight champion, will simply be too much. I can't see Fabiano doing much with Benavidez. Benavidez via decision.
Charles Walker - Good bout, Benavidez showed how tough he is in his rematch with Dominick Cruz, he continues to be a scrappy in your face type of fighter that will remain in the top ranks for a while. Fabiano's kind of slipped since coming in to the WEC with a lot of hype. I really think this fight will be close as both guys are known to grapple, a lot, but I think Benavidez is gonna be a little too fast for Fabiano and thus get in some good positions to win rounds. Don't see either finishing the other, so I'll go Benavidez via decision.
Rich Wyatt - Coming off an unsuccessful bid for the bantamweight world championship, Benavidez certainly isn't taking an easier fight by any stretch. This could be the best matchup of the night and I expect a back and forth fight with Benavidez doing just enough to take a close decision. Benavidez by decision.
Forrest Lynn - Benavidez is too much for Fabiano standing. Unfortunately for Fabiano, he's also too much for him in the wrestling and cardio department. Benavidez cruises to a decision win with Fabiano never threatening throughout the duration.
Matt Bishop - Another stellar bout here. Johnson can go, plain and simple. He brings a real exciting style and this will be a big test for him. Can Page keep up when he hasn't fought in more than a year? This will be another barnburner that I see Johnson coming out on top in. Johnson via decision.
Charles Walker - I'm a Damacio Page fan, dude always comes out to scrap. I think Page will probably beat up Johnson on the feet and eventually either get the stoppage or break his hand and submit. Seriously though, I don't know enough about Johnson, and from reading up on him it seems Page will definitely have the advantage striking and should take this one. Page via stoppage or decision.
Rich Wyatt - I foresee Damacio connecting with some big shots in this one, setting the tone early and finally putting away his opponent late. Page by TKO in the 3rd.
Forrest Lynn - Johnson has been very active throughout 2010 and shown quite a fantastic set of skills during that. His quickness and scrambling ability are truly special, not to mention his nice striking skills. Page is coming off a long period of inactivity, and with a stick of dynamite like Johnson across the cage from him, expect that to be exposed. Johnson by decision.