WEC 33 continues the tradition of great shows for Versus on March 26th. Some of the best young fighters can be found in the WEC and we will see several on this show. Brian Stann, Blas Avena, Brock Larson, Marcus Hicks and Ed Ratcliff all have top ten talent.
The constantly maligned Doug Marshall (+130) will defend his WEC Light Heavyweight Belt against Brian Stann. Despite Marshall’s success (earned in the octagon,) most “experts” continually cast doubts on his ability. Brian Stann (-160) enters this fight as a slight favorite due to his powerful striking. Stann has progressed steadily and appears ready challenge the “Rhino” in what should be a tremendous fight.
I believe the oddsmakers got the line right. Although Marshall is the experienced defending champion, Stann has a clear advantage in the standup. Marshall is a competitor and he will trade with Stann initially. Stann’s punching is crisp, powerful and he’s quicker than Marshall, which will give him an opportunity to hit home with some big shots early on. If you have never seen Brian Stann watch how he commits to his punches, he stays “in the pocket” and delivers his shot better than anyone except possibly Rampage. If you like Stann, -160 is a reasonable price.
Do not discount Doug Marshall! If he can neutralize Stann’s punching advantage and get this fight to the ground, he will retain the title. Stann’s never had to scramble against anyone with the ability of Marshall. Marshall is most dangerous when chaos breaks out during the fight, which is likely considering Stann’s combination of explosiveness and inexperience. Marshall is somewhat of a poor man’s Anderson Silva, he’s demonstrated that he can finish a fight in a variety of ways.
I give the edge to Stann, he’s more talented and its time for him to take a step up in competition. He appears to be the kind of fighter that passes these kind of “incremental” steps. I respect Marshall and will bet on him if he reaches +200. The guy is constantly underestimated and he continually proves his critics wrong. There are better fights to bet on Wednesday night.
The early favorite for Fight of the Night is between two combustible strikers. Ed Ratcliff (-105) and Marcus Hicks (-125) are both undefeated, each with a couple of impressive WEC fights. Ratcliff is a pure striker who has yet to be tested on the mat, he’s efficient, accurate and deadly. Marcus Hicks is high intensity bowling ball with two bomb-throwing fists. Hicks has proven to have some ability on the ground, albeit against inexperienced opponents. Ratcliff will have to do some serious damage as Hicks rushes in. If Hicks gets to Ratcliff’s chest, it will be all over. Whichever guy wins this fight will be a serious contender to challenge Faber.
I like Hicks in this fight. He’s a better all around fighter who should be a bigger favorite. Ratcliff and Hicks are both very effective strikers, although they are completely different. Ratcliff is elegant and technical perfection, while Hicks is a menacing fury similar to Clubber Lang. Bottom line is Hicks has more ways to win this fight and I see him imposing his style in the ring. FWIW, this matchup is similar to KJ Noons vs Crazy Horse (Hicks is much better than Bennett.)
Chael Sonnen (-365) is set to fight Bryan Baker (+275), after Filho dropped out. Everyone saw Sonnen dominate Filho before getting caught in an arm-bar, so obviously he will dominate the no-name Baker who is taking the fight on short notice. Not so fast my friend, Baker was scheduled for this card all along so his training is a non-issue. Baker is somewhat inconsistent, but he’s got some explosive power to go along with a little wrestling game. Sonnen is a plodding striker that can look good against a submission specialist, but I think Baker can dominate Sonnen on his feet. This fight could be tailor-made for Baker to show his skills. I’m not guaranteeing a win, Sonnen might control the action and smother Baker for 3 rounds but at nearly 3-1 Baker offers great value. Only an idiot would play Sonnen at this price, Baker is the only bettable fighter in this contest.
I’d bet my life Brock Larson (-270) is going crazy right now (Tuesday afternoon,) if he can contain himself long enough to get into the ring it will be bad news for John Alessio (+210). Larson is simply better at all aspects of MMA than Alessio, he is stronger, faster, strikes better, grapples better, etc…
Larson’s a top ten talent who let a big opportunity escape him when he lost to Condit. Tomorrow night he will show everyone it was a fluke. Larson will work his way in close to Alessio, take him down and beat him up. Alessio will be reduced to waiting for a mistake and trying to capitalize. Fat chance, Larson’s learned the lesson. Most likely winner of the night.
Check out the current odds at the MMA Betting SuperPage.