World Extreme Cagefighting® announced today a lightweight showdown that will have tremendous implications on the future of the 155-pound division. On Saturday, Dec. 19 from The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV, lightweight title contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will take on striker extraordinaire Ed Ratcliff, while in the co-main event, Muay Thai sensation Anthony Njokuani battles former IFL star Chris Horodecki. When the smoke clears on Dec. 19, the world may know who is next in line for a crack at the WEC lightweight champion.
“Four of our top lightweights are going to be competing on Dec. 19, each with his sights set on securing a coveted shot at the world title,” WEC GM Reed Harris said. “Cerrone vs. Ratcliff has the potential to be an explosive standup war. We can expect much of the same from Njokuani and Horodecki as well. This is the perfect holiday gift for fans.”
In addition to the lightweight fights, two of the world’s top 10 bantamweights will be in action. In an interesting clash of styles, submission ace Rani Yahya will lock horns with the speedy Joseph Benavidez.
“On Dec. 19, we are showcasing two of the world’s most dynamic bantamweights,” Harris said. “Benavidez-Yahya has the potential to steal the show. We are really excited to bring this card to The Palms.”
Tickets for WEC: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff go on sale Saturday, Oct. 31 at 12 p.m. PT and will be priced at $175, $100, and $50. A special Internet ticket pre-sale will be available to WEC newsletter subscribers on Friday, Oct. 30 starting at 10 a.m. PT. To access this presale, users must register for the WEC newsletter through wec.tv. Tickets will be available at The Pearl box office, online at ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Cerrone vs. Henderson will be televised nationally live on VERSUS beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. All of the network’s live WEC events are presented in HD and Spanish language SAP where available. For more information and how to find VERSUS in your local viewing area, visit http://www.versus.com/findversus.
After battling Ben Henderson in a “Fight of the Year” candidate in October, Donald Cerrone (10-2, 1 NC) has wasted no time reinserting himself into the world title picture. A gifted striker training out of Albuquerque, NM, “Cowboy” is excited to face the unpredictable Ed “9MM” Ratcliff on Dec. 19. Knowing that his opponent loves to trade leather, Cerrone wants to prove that he has the right arsenal to diffuse Ratcliff. What’s more, the 26-year-old believes a win over “9MM” at the Palms will propel him toward rematches with Henderson and reigning champ Jamie Varner.
“I just have to whip Ed’s tail,” a motivated Cerrone said. “He’s a one-dimensional fighter. He’s not going to take me down and try to wrestle me. He’s going to try to beat me at my game, which is striking. He is a striker and that’s my game, so I hope he’s ready. I want to work my way back to a shot at the belt.”
A black belt in Taekwondo and karate, there are few standup artists as polished as Ratcliff. The 26-year-old holds a 3-1 record inside the WEC and owns victories over Johnny Sampaio, Alex Karalexis, and Phil Cardella. Now training out of San Diego, Calif. with WEC bantamweight contender Dominick Cruz and UFC star Brandon Vera, Ratcliff (7-1) is anxious to fight Cerrone and prove that he belongs atop the WEC lightweight division.
“As soon as my manager said Donald’s name I said ‘Let’s do it,’” Ratcliff said. “He didn’t even have to finish the sentence. My fight with Donald has the potential to be a war and I can’t wait.”
After earning “Knockout of the Night” honors in his last two fights, perhaps no fighter is riding a wave of momentum like Anthony Njokuani. With back-to-back KO wins over Bart Palaszewski and Muhsin Corbbrey, the 29-year-old Las Vegas resident hopes a win on Dec. 19 will fuel his run to WEC gold. Undefeated as a professional Muay Thai fighter, the hard-hitting Njokuani (12-2) wants to earn another bonus by flattening Horodecki in the co-main event.
“This is the type of fight that I’ve been looking for,” Njokuani, a native of Nigeria, said. “This matchup gets me excited and I can’t wait to fight Chris. When I win this one, it will put me at the level that I’ve been waiting for. It will put me in the mix for a shot at the world title.”
Nicknamed “The Polish Hammer,” Chris Horodecki (13-1) burst onto the MMA scene during his time with the International Fight League. Displaying heavy hands and an aggressive approach, Horodecki is excited to join WEC and thinks a win over Njokuani will make him an immediate contender in the lightweight division. Training with the likes of Mark Hominick and Sam Stout, Horodecki is confident that he is prepared to compete on MMA’s biggest stage.
“With the right game plan, I’ll beat Anthony in the standup and take him down if I have to,” Horodecki, originally from London, Ontario, Canada, said. “I’m the fresh face here in the WEC. Everyone wants to make a name for themselves. I’m excited for this fight and I’ll be ready to go to battle on Dec. 19.”
One of the most feared grapplers in the sport, Rani Yahya (15-4) has scored submission victories in four out of his last five fights in the WEC. An Abu Dhabi world champion in 2007, the soft-spoken Brazilian hopes to make Joseph Benavidez his next victim on Dec. 19. Although respectful of Benavidez’s abilities, Yahya thinks that he can ground the wiry Californian.
“Jiu jitsu is my strength in the cage,” Yahya, who has only been out of the first round once in his WEC career, said. “Joseph is a very quick fighter, but I think I can put him in some bad positions and win the fight.”
Joseph Benavidez (10-1) is one of the bantamweight division’s hottest prospects. A well-rounded athlete who boasts speed, power, and good cage awareness, Benavidez is looking to snap Yahya’s winning streak at The Palms. A training partner of WEC vets Urijah Faber and Danny Castillo, Benavidez believes that he has the seasoning needed to best Yahya.
“This is an important fight for me,” said Benavidez, who lost the first bout of his career to Dominick Cruz in August. “There’s no doubt that I’m hungry and want to prove a point in this bout. Yahya is an awesome grappler, but I think I’m the better all-around fighter.”
Remaining bouts for WEC: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff will be announced at a later date. For more information, visit www.wec.tv. Follow WEC at http://twitter.com/WEConVERSUS.