In a rare Thursday show, World Extreme Cagefighting heads to Broomfield, Colo., for WEC 51. This will be the promotion's first trip to the Centennial State. Here’s what you should be watching for on Thursday evening:
Former UFC standout Manny Gamburyan vs. phenom Jose Aldo in a featherweight title clash. Gamburyan previously fought for the UFC in the lightweight division, going 2-3. He was very competitive against Nate Diaz in the TUF 5 finale until he separated his shoulder. It was his final two losses in the UFC that convinced him to make the jump down to the featherweight division and enter WEC. Despite joining what is arguably one of the most competitive divisions in the sport, the Armenian fighter is now 3-0 in the division with wins against Franchi, Garcia, and Brown. Aldo, who’s destroyed every fighter he’s faced in the WEC, is like looking at a smaller and quicker Anderson Silva (back when Silva was motivated to actually fight his opponent). The Brazilian fighter has been on cruise control over the last several years, but his fight against a former UFC guy Thursday could shake things up for him. Although I still expect Aldo to be wearing the belt on Friday morning, this could be the toughest fight of his career.
Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone can't stand each other. That much we know. After Varner’s controversial win against Cerrone in 2009 at WEC 38, Cerrone has been bad mouthing the former lightweight champ for being a coward. In that fight, Cerrone, who was losing the bout, struck Varner’s head with an illegal knee towards the end of the third and final frame. Due to the injury, the fight was stopped and went straight to the scorecards. Cerrone has also recently unleashed a tirade about Varner which included a death threat, and an apology was later issued. On the flip side, when Varner has been asked to comment on his opponent, "hillbilly" and "idiot" are among the adjectives he’s eagerly used to describe his Cerrone. With the hate for each other so apparent and with lightweight contention at stake, it’s about time these two settle their differences ... in the cage.
Leonard Garcia and "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung are back in action. OK, so it’s not against each other such as WEC 48. That three-round slugfest is at the top of my list for Fight of the Year. With Garcia winning the close split decision, I’m surprised the promotion did not automatically match the two fighters again. Let’s hope both of these entertaining strikers keep winning so the WEC will eventually book this rematch, perhaps in a title-contention scenario. I can’t even imagine how hard they would fight for a shot at the title. Garcia takes on Mark Hominick, and Jung meets up with George Roop on Thursday night.
It’s do or die for Miguel Torres. The once unstoppable Torres is reeling from two crushing defeats against fellow bantamweight foes and is desperately looking to get back on track. Torres has been the face of the bantamweight division for years, but another loss could put his WEC career in question. A win over Charlie Valencia, who is on a three-fight win streak, is absolutely critical if he is to be a presence in the bantamweight division again.
George Roop will try yet again to earn his WEC stripes. Roop is former TUF 8 lightweight contestant who went 1-3 in the UFC dropped to featherweight and entered the WEC earlier this year. Although he will be participating in his third WEC bout, he’s yet to secure a win, losing to Eddie Wineland via decision and fighting to a draw against Leonard Garcia. Will the move down in weight eventually pay off for Roop? Unfortunately for the UFC vet, he’ll have to test his WEC mettle against one Korean ‘Zombie’ on Thursday night to find out
WEC 51 is scheduled to take place on Thursday at 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Color. The main card bouts will broadcast live on Versus.
Main Fight Card
Champ Jose Aldo vs. Manny Gamburyan (for featherweight title)
Miguel Torres vs. Charlie Valencia
Donald Cerrone vs. Jamie Varner
Chan Sung Jung vs. George Roop
Leonard Garcia vs. Mark Hominick
Prelim Fight Card
Mike Brown vs. Cole Province
Chris Horodecki vs. Ed Ratcliff
Antonio Banuelos vs. Chad George
Demetrious Johnson vs. Nick Pace
Diego Nunes vs. Tyler Toner
Pablo Garza vs. Tiequan Zhang