Thursday, November 8, 2007

WEC 31 Card is No Joke

World Extreme Cagefighting issued a press release today, announcing the addition of WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho to an already exciting December 12 card that features a light heavyweight title fight, a featherweight title fight, and the WEC debut of former UFC lightweight champion Jens “Li’l Evil” Pulver.

Urijah Faber vs. Jeff Curran (Featherweight Title Fight)

Featherweight champ Urijah “California Kid” Faber will fight for 145-pound supremacy against a very tough, very skilled Jeff “Big Frog” Curran, who’s already handed four undefeated fighters their first loss this year. Curran has a wealth of international fighting experience that dates back nearly ten years, and he holds wins over some very tough guys (Rafael Assuncao, Krazy Horse Bennett, Wagney Fabiano). As for Faber, he’s been absolutely dominant. He’s riding an 11-fight win streak during which no opponent has made it past the second round. I’m excited to see how Curran’s fast hands and dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu game match up against Faber’s explosive speed and power. Should be a great fight.

Doug Marshall vs. Ariel Gandulla (Light Heavyweight Title Fight)

Hard-hitting, free-swinging light heavyweight champion Doug “Rhino” Marshall will make his first title defense since knocking out Justin McElfresh back in May to capture the belt. I don’t know too much about the 4-0 Gandulla, but Marshall has been inactive for a while, and I expect this fight to showcase Marshall’s tenacious punching power. Don’t be surprised by a Marshall-Brian Stann fight in the near future if Rhino gets past Gandulla.

Paulo Filho vs. TBA (Middleweight Title Fight)

Newly-crowned middleweight champ Paulo Filho captured the vacant title on September 5 at WEC 30 after viciously knocking out veteran Joe Doerksen. With an improved striking arsenal and as lethal a submission game as you’ll find, Filho is regarded by many as one of best – if not the best – in the world at 185 lbs.

Jens Pulver vs. Cub Swanson

Jens Pulver, the UFC’s first ever lightweight champion, is making his highly-anticipated WEC debut against Cub Swanson in what many expect to produce the next challenger for WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber. These two were originally scheduled to fight on September 5 at WEC 30, but a knee injury forced Pulver out of the match.

The Miletich-trained Pulver has suffered two recent stoppages losses at 155 lbs. in the UFC (KO’d by Joe Lauzon; choked out by BJ Penn), and is looking to continue the success he’s had at (or below) 145 lbs.: 6 KOs and 1 submission win. Cub Swanson is young, athletic, and looking for a KO over the heavy-handed Pulver. Swanson is a jiu-jitsu brown belt with Muay Thai training who lost his first pro fight in 2004 and has since rattled off 11 consecutive wins. Most recently, Cub exhibited excellent submission defense, as well as fast, strong hands that fly in dangerous combinations against Micah Miller. Are Jens’ best days in the rear view mirror, or can the legend’s trademark sprawl-and-brawl stop the younger, faster Cub Swanson?

WEC has been on a roll recently, especially when it comes to delivering the title fights. And when you consider that they have no heavyweight division, a brand new middleweight champion, and a light heavyweight champ that’s been inactive for 5 months, you’ve got to tip your hat to the promotion for coming up with exciting match-ups. At September 5th’s WEC 30 Chase Beebe defended his bantamweight belt against Rani Yahya vs. Beebe, and “Razor” Rob McCullough fought Rich “Cleat” Crunkilton for the lightweight championship. August 5th’s WEC 29 featured Filho vs. Doerksen for the middleweight belt and a welterweight title fight between champion Carlos Condit and Brock Larson. These were both great cards, but WEC 31, at least on paper, looks to be the best card WEC has ever delivered.

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