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WEC 45: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on January 23, 2010, 2:52 PM

WEC 45: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Frank Mir. They discuss the matches between 155lbs contenders Donald Cerrone and Ed Ratcliff, and Anthony Njokouani and Chris Horodecki. Mir, on a side note, looks HUGE here. You can definitely tell he’s been trying to bulk up since the Lesnar loss in July.

-Worth a mention too that this show took place the same night as Strike Force: Evolution, meaning that it was easily the most stacked weekend of MMA in 2009.

Bantamweight Fight: Scott Jorgensen vs Takeya Mizugaki

Japanese contender Mizugaki was coming off an impressive – if close – decision win over perennial contender Jeff Curran at WEC 42, while Jorgensen had reeled off three wins in five attempts in the WEC, and was looking to throw his name into the hat of contenders by knocking off the highly ranked Mizugaki in this one. Jorgensen’s hair is almost Dan Hardy-esque here, with the red Mohawk. Not quite as tall as Dan’s ‘hawk though.

We get underway and Mizugaki throws some strikes out before Jorgensen closes the distance, then catches him cold with a short right to the temple! Mizugaki goes down and Jorgensen grabs a guillotine and looks to finish him off! He looks to pull guard, but Mizugaki defends and manages to escape to his feet in the clinch. They exchange some knees to the body and muscle for position, before Jorgensen catches a knee and slams him down. Good escape from Mizugaki allows him back to his feet though, and we’re back in the clinch. Jorgensen breaks off with a right and Mizugaki hits him with a beautiful combo, going from the body to the head. They trade BOMBS and both men land cleanly, snapping the other’s head back. Jorgensen takes over though, landing the short right hook again and this time following with an uppercut. Mizugaki looks in deep trouble and Jorgensen hits him with some more punches and decks him with a BIG RIGHT HAND! Jorgensen pounds away in the guard, looking to finish, but Mizugaki manages to stay in full guard. Guard pass from Jorgensen but Mizugaki rolls back to guard, and it looks like he’s mostly recovered now. The Japanese fighter rolls and gives his back though, and although he uses it to stand, he eats more punches on the way. They end up clinched again and muscle for position before breaking off to end the round. 10-9 for Scott Jorgensen. You could argue 10-8 probably but I think Mizugaki did just enough to warrant 10-9.

Second round and they exchange some pretty big combos early before Jorgensen gets a nicely timed takedown to guard. Mizugaki looks to tie him up from the bottom, but Jorgensen passes into side mount and then grabs a guillotine as Mizugaki stands. The Japanese fighter pops his head free though and they end up clinched again. They exchange some more knees to the body and muscle along the fence before referee Herb Dean separates them. Nice combo from Mizugaki lands as they restart, and it looks like he’s the crisper striker even if he doesn’t have the power. Jorgensen stops him in his tracks with a nice double leg though. Good escape allows Mizugaki to his feet, but Jorgensen stops a takedown attempt and breaks off with a combo. They trade some heavy blows into another clinch, before a hard one-two for Jorgensen breaks. Body kick from Mizugaki before Jorgensen clinches again, and it looks like Mizugaki’s sporting a bloody nose now. Some good knees land for Jorgensen before Mizugaki manages to break off. Another beautiful double leg follows from Jorgensen but Mizugaki seems impossible to hold down, as he immediately pops up to his feet as the round ends. I have Scott Jorgensen up 20-18 going into the third.

Third and final round and Mizugaki lands a good right hand, answered by a knee and a left from Jorgensen. Body shot from Mizugaki and Jorgensen looks to shoot, but this time Mizugaki stuffs it and they’re back to the clinch. Jorgensen breaks off and eats a combo. They trade some more serious leather into another clinch, and both men land punches as they break off. Good combo from Mizugaki again. Couple of good jabs land for the Japanese fighter with three minutes to go. Stiff combo from the Japanese fighter follows as it looks like he’s taking over the stand-up. Takedown from Jorgensen but a brilliant scramble allows Mizugaki to roll to his feet, and now he hits a trip takedown of his own and lands in half-guard, where he grinds away with some elbows. Jorgensen manages to move into full guard, but then gives his back and Mizugaki takes a crucifix from the back. Jorgensen gets a nice escape though and they end up on their feet clinched. Sick takedown from Mizugaki slams Jorgensen onto his back, and this time Mizugaki lands in side mount. Mizugaki controls him and lands some knees to the body, but Jorgensen hip escapes into half-guard and he manages to stall out the remaining seconds as Mizugaki flurries on him. Third round was all Mizugaki but it was too little, too late – I have this 29-28 for Scott Jorgensen.

Judges score it 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 for Scott Jorgensen. Great fight overall as Mizugaki followed in the footsteps of his countryman Yushin Okami by leaving things till the last round, but here I think it was probably due to him being foggy from the first knockdown that Jorgensen landed in the first round. Overall this was an incredibly impressive showing for Jorgensen, as he was faced with the next level of competition at 135lbs and stepped up to the plate with no hesitation.

-Todd Harris talks to Interim Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson and former Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber about their upcoming fights with Jamie Varner and Raphael Assuncao respectively. Both men are confident, naturally. And of course Faber gets the bigger pop. The guy oozes charisma and I still maintain it’s criminal that he isn’t in the UFC.

Bantamweight Fight: Joseph Benavidez vs Rani Yahya

Urijah Faber protégé Benavidez had narrowly missed out on earning a title shot when he was defeated by Dominick Cruz earlier in the year, and this was his chance at redemption, faced with Brazilian grappling whiz Yahya, who, while he’d always shown himself to be one of the most deadly submission fighters in the game, had never looked truly well rounded. I figured Benavidez would shut him down for a decision or a late TKO. Miguel Torres joins us on commentary for this one which was to be expected as the likelihood, according to online rumors, was that he’d be facing the winner at WEC 47 in March.

First round begins and Benavidez gives him an early warning, narrowly missing a head kick as Yahya leans for a takedown. Couple of jabs from Yahya and then he lands with a leg kick. Benavidez is stepping in and although he’s taking some kicks, he’s landing counters from the pocket nicely. Both men swing wildly and Benavidez drops to his knees, looked more like a slip to me though. Man, these guys are SWINGING. Benavidez is the aggressor though, and he keeps pushing forward, and finally in a trade he drops Yahya with a CRUSHING OVERHAND RIGHT! Three more rights follow before referee Kim Winslow’s seen enough and stops things.

Man, that was a picture-perfect shot from Benavidez and when Yahya went down he wasted no time in finishing it. Some fans online claimed the ref stopped the fight early but I don’t agree with that at all – it was a great call in my eyes as Yahya was clearly out and the later punches on the ground may have just snapped him back into consciousness. And indeed, it’ll be Benavidez-Torres in March, which as a huge fan of Torres, I can’t see ending well for Benavidez. Should be a hell of a fight though.

Featherweight Fight: Brandon Visher vs Courtney Buck

Prelim here and I’ve never heard of either guy if I’m honest. Visher is a very experienced guy though, bringing in a record of 12-0.

We begin and Buck lands with a body kick and then it’s TIME FOR FIREWORKS as they both start swinging. Buck looks to clinch for some knees, but a wild shot from Visher slows him down and then Visher follows by throwing him down. Buck comes up quickly and drops Visher with a shot of his own, but Visher pops right up and slams him to the ground! He lands in side mount and controls him as Buck looks like he’s trying to hold on and survive. Visher basically allows him to escape to his feet, and then lands a big left as they stand, but Buck comes back with some kicks. Combo from Visher is answered by some heavy knees from Buck, and then they trade some leg kicks with Buck getting the better of it. This is a hell of a brawl. Buck continues to push forward, but a big overhand right stuns him badly and Visher follows with another that has Buck covering up. Somehow Buck fires right back with another big knee though and now we’re right back to exchanging. Buck stuns him again with punches, and this time Visher drops for a takedown and gets it very easily, landing in half-guard. Mir sounds disgusted with Buck’s takedown defense. Some short punches land for Visher and then he uses an elbow to pass to full mount. Buck tries to hold on, and then gives his back, so Visher stands over him and lands some wild hooks. Buck tries to roll, but eats a BRUTAL HAMMER FIST that knocks him stiff, and quickly Steve Mazzagatti’s in for the stoppage.

Brutal, brutal finish and you could probably make a case that The Mazz stopped it late as Buck wasn’t really defending when he gave his back, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he didn’t look out cold at that point or anything, so hey. Awesome brawl standing but on the ground Visher was on another level. Hopefully Buck can improve that part of his game and come back though, because he was mad exciting and really brought the fight.

Lightweight Fight: Anthony Njokuani vs Chris Horodecki

Horodecki had come over to the WEC after the Affliction crash, and in fact he hadn’t fought for the clothing company before it went down, so he was still carrying his reputation from his IFL run, where eight wins in nine attempts had made him one of that company’s poster-boys. For his WEC debut he was faced with the lanky striker Njokuani, who had beaten both Muhsin Corbbrey and Bart Palaszewski by knockout in 2009. Newsflash – despite not fighting on TV in some time, Horodecki still looks to be about twelve years old. Well, maybe thirteen, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Round One begins and Horodecki looks to put together some combos while Njokuani keeps a low stance, popping out some jabs. Size difference appears to be huge here in favour of Njokuani. They exchange punches and Njokuani gets the better of it, so Horodecki wisely grabs a clinch and forces him into the cage, looking for a takedown. Horodecki drops for a double leg, but he can’t get Njokuani off his feet and they exchange with some knees before breaking off. Good combo ending with a body kick from Njokuani. Horodecki is a good striker but he’s being caught clean here and he looks bloodied up. Couple of jabs land for the Polish Hammer though. Big knee lands for Njokuani, but it allows Horodecki to grab him to attempt a takedown. Whizzer reversal from Njokuani follows though and he trips Horodecki down! Instant step over to mount follows but Horodecki manages to escape to half-guard. He takes some punches before exploding to his feet, but then he makes the mistake of trying to run away to recover, and Njokuani chases him down and DECKS HIM WITH A KICK!~! Holy shit. Horodecki desperately tries to survive, but Njokuani drops some bombs over the top and eventually referee Steve Mazzagatti stops things.

Man, that kick was something else. Reminiscent of the great Yves Edwards knockout of Josh Thomson, and in fact Njokuani reminds me a lot of Yves full stop. As with the Yves one, it needs to be seen to be believed, so...

....yeah. Awesome stuff. I’d like to see Njokuani against Jamie Varner next seeing as how Varner lost to Ben Henderson and Njokuani already has losses to Henderson and Donald Cerrone. That’d be a fun fight for sure. As for Horodecki, he looked a bit soft at 155lbs to me and so I think a trip down to 145lbs would probably be the best move for his career. Fun fight but the knockout made it as it was one of the very best KOs of 2009.

Bantamweight Fight: Brad Pickett vs Kyle Dietz

Never heard of Dietz, but man was I excited to see my old Cage Rage favourite Pickett in the mix at 135lbs! Training with American Top Team since 2005, Pickett had put together a record of 17-4 since his debut back at Cage Rage 9 in 2004, and hadn’t lost since a submission against DREAM favourite Hideo Tokoro in 2007. With his blend of power punching and solid ground skills – as well as a marketable personality (Brad Pitt’s pikey character from Snatch) – I figured with a win here, ‘One Punch’ could make himself into a bit of a star.

We begin and they circle before Pickett ducks a high kick and narrowly avoids a spinning backfist coming off it too. They trade some fast combos and then Dietz goes for a high kick, but Pickett catches it and gets a takedown, avoiding a triangle almost in mid air. He lands in the guard of Dietz. They exchange shots from there before Pickett stands to attempt a guard pass, but he ends up eating an upkick or two and drops back into the guard. Dietz squirms from his back, but takes a nice elbow from ‘One Punch’ that looks to have bloodied his lip. Pickett stands over him to attempt a pass, but eats another upkick before dropping to the guard again. Pickett begins to do a good job with the elbows from the top, as Dietz tries to defend from the bottom. One minute to go as Pickett seems content to grind things out inside the guard. He passes into half-guard and then looks for side mount though, but Dietz scrambles. Pickett grabs a guillotine and then tries to roll to his back and transition right into a triangle, but Dietz postures up to avoid and he manages to finish the round. Good opening round for Brad Pickett.

2nd round and Dietz lands with a flying knee and follows with a combo that stuns Pickett! Brad answers right back though, fighting fire with fire, and he catches Dietz off balance and drops him with a right! Dietz lands in full guard as Mir points out that Pickett has a hell of a chin. Well, anyone who saw him in Cage Rage will remember that. Action slows down a little as Pickett works from the guard with punches to the body and head, and then Dietz pulls his leg up in a rubber guard attempt that fails. Pickett begins to really open up with some short, hard elbows, and then passes into half-guard. Dietz manages to kick him away though and lands another upkick. Pickett drops back into the guard with a right hand, and then goes back to working the body and head. Pickett’s elbows from the guard are pretty nasty. Dietz looks to wall walk and escape to his feet, but he gives his back in the process and Pickett transitions over, grabs the head and locks up a Peruvian necktie! It looks tight and the Brit rolls over right into top position and this choke is TIGHT. Dietz taps out there.

Great debut from Pickett and that was one of the slickest submissions I’ve ever seen, particularly with how Brad rolled over into it to really tighten it up. Only the second time I’ve seen the Peruvian necktie used to tap someone in MMA too, the first time being CB Dollaway of course. Can’t wait to see Pickett up there with the top contenders at 135lbs. Another exciting fight overall.

Lightweight Fight: Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone vs Ed Ratcliff

I didn’t really expect Cowboy Cerrone to fight again in 2009 after his FOTYC with Ben Henderson, as he was basically guaranteed a shot at the winner of Varner-Henderson already, but I guess the guy is a true fighter who will step up against basically anyone. Ratcliff had only fought once in 2009 – a decision win over Phil Cardella in August – but with his explosive striking he was definitely a threat to Cerrone. Still, I expected a submission win for the Cowboy here. Crowd give Cerrone a massive pop upon entrance, as he seems to have gotten over as a real star in the WEC with the Cowboy gimmick. Well, I guess putting on a super-exciting fight every time he steps into the cage helps too.

First round begins and Cerrone charges right out into a kick from Ratcliff! He gets a clinch though and looks to trip Ratcliff down. Ratcliff defends and gets a trip takedown of his own, but Cowboy pops up right away. Good leg kicks from Ratcliff but Cerrone uses his length to land a couple of punches. Low kick knocks Cerrone right off balance. Striking exchange continues before Ratcliff clinches and forces him into the cage. Good knees inside from both men and then they trade to break. Cerrone clinches again with some more knees, landing some really nice ones inside. Ratcliff breaks with a combo and goes back to the leg kicks. They exchange some shots standing with Cowboy landing some vicious knees. Brutal body kick from Cerrone. Good leg kick follows and he lands with another body kick too. Clinch from Cerrone and he lands a hard knee, but it catches Ratcliff low and referee Herb Dean calls time. Ratcliff recovers and they restart, and Cerrone snaps his head back with a right hand. Cerrone pushes the action and they exchange some more kicks, but Cowboy catches him in the clinch with another low knee and Herb calls time again and this time he takes a point off Cerrone. Ratcliff takes some time to compose himself and then they restart, and trade with some wild strikes that both men land before Ratcliff grabs a clinch. Cerrone takes him down and gets into half-guard, and from there he locks up a guillotine, but the buzzer sounds before he can finish things. Great opening round, would’ve been Cerrone’s but with the point deduction, it has to be 9-9.

Into the 2nd and Cowboy stalks him and lands a flurry before they go back to exchanging leg kicks. Cerrone slips on one, but pops back up before Ratcliff can capitalize. Cerrone’s kicks are looking really nasty here and he lands another good one to the outside leg. Flying knee misses for Cowboy; combo lands. Body kick follows and Ratcliff can’t seem to deal with the reach now. He does land a couple of decent counter hooks though. Good straight left from Cerrone to counter a low kick and he fires in with a leg kick of his own to follow. Big knee to the head from Cerrone to finish a combo. Cerrone is taking over here. Ratcliff looks to answer back with some punches, but doesn’t land clean and he eats another body kick. An errant knee from Cowboy hits the groin again though and this time Ratcliff drops in pain. Herb Dean deducts another point and that might turn out to be a problem for Cerrone even if he’s winning the fight. They finally restart and Cerrone stalks him with some more strikes, clearly becoming more aggressive as he probably needs a finish now. Flying knee has Ratcliff on the run, and he’s taking some heavy shots here. Cowboy hits another hard leg kick and then snaps his head back with a jab. Ratcliff finally catches a kick and shoves Cerrone to the ground, but the Cowboy pops right back up. They clinch for a moment but Cerrone breaks with an elbow. Ratcliff manages to grab him again and takes the back with a rear waistlock, but Cerrone uses the Sakuraba trick of spinning into a kimura and from there he almost locks up an oma plata before switching to the power guillotine! It looks to be all over for Ratcliff, but the buzzer sounds to save him! Crowd are going wild at this point. Another round for Cerrone but it’s 18-18 overall with the point deductions.

We’re into the third round and despite dominating this fight, Cerrone probably needs a finish to be sure of a win. Ratcliff comes flying out of the gates with a jumping knee, but Cerrone grabs hold of him and looks to take him down. Ratcliff breaks off but Cerrone closes in and takes the back standing with a rear waistlock. He tries to get Ratcliff down, but Ratcliff defends so Cerrone turns him around and lands with a jumping knee. Left hook from Cerrone stuns Ratcliff as the crowd begin a big “COWBOY” chant. Big knee from Cerrone and Ratcliff gets a bodylock and looks for the takedown, but Cerrone grabs hold of the fence to shift his weight and lands on top in full mount. Herb Dean spots the fence grab though, and calls time to stand them up. Great refereeing decision there. They restart on the feet and Cerrone hits him with a body kick. More kicks follow as the crowd continue to chant for him. Elbow from Cerrone leads into a clinch, and from there he looks for the takedown. They muscle for position and Cerrone lands another knee before transitioning to the waistlock. He trips Ratcliff down and this time takes full mount before Ratcliff rolls and gives his back. It looks like Cerrone’s locked up a reverse triangle, but instead he switches to a nasty kneebar variant. That’s one of the wildest sub attempts ever. For some reason though he lets it go, and Ratcliff escapes to his feet, but Cerrone still has the waistlock and he drags him down and gets a body triangle locked in. Ratcliff looks in trouble and Cowboy locks up a tight rear naked choke to finally force the tapout.

Post-fight Cowboy calls out the winner of the upcoming Henderson-Varner unification fight, then says he’s pulling for Henderson as Varner’s not a good guy. Well, he would say that. Great fight overall as Cerrone was on top for the majority of the fight, but it was made a lot more exciting by the point deductions as Ratcliff was never in danger of a shutout decision because of them. Both men brought the fight but Cowboy’s reach and precision striking gave him the advantage and on the ground he seemed worlds ahead. I’d love to see Cerrone against some of the guys in the UFC’s 155lbs division (Terry Etim and Nate Diaz immediately come to mind) but he has unfinished business in the WEC with both Henderson and Varner first methinks.

-Highlight package wraps the night up.

Final Thoughts....

Yet another great show from the WEC, as what was arguably their weakest card of the year delivered in spades. Jorgensen-Mizugaki gets the ‘Worst Fight’ honour but outside of one or two slow spots it was actually a very good match, but when you’ve got highlight reel finishes like Pickett’s Peruvian necktie and Njokuani’s kick, then the lone fight that goes the distance is bound to get a little overshadowed. Throw in a great, exciting main event between Ratcliff and Cerrone, who is swiftly becoming one of my favourite fighters to watch in all of MMA, and you have one hell of a show. Two thumbs up for WEC 45.

Best Fight: Cerrone-Ratcliff
Worst Fight: Jorgensen-Mizugaki

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 103-107, Fight Night 20
WEC: 46
Bitetti Combat 4
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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