On Saturday, December 19, 2009, the WEC returns to Sin City with WEC 45 – Cerrone vs. Ratcliff. The event, which is the last scheduled Zuffa produced MMA event of the year, will take place at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. This will also mark the third Zuffa produced MMA event to take place at this venue in the last 5 weeks, as WEC 44 and the UFC’s TUF 10 Finale also took place in this building during that span. The main card of WEC 45 will air live on Versus in the United States at 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST.
The main event of the evening will take place in the lightweight division, which is the heaviest weight class in the WEC, which is the UFC’s sister promotion. The bout will be between Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Ed "9mm" Ratcliff. Cerrone trains out of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the likes of Rashad Evans and Nate Marquardt. He is a polished kickboxer with a very fluid submission game. Cerrone has notched 3 wins in the WEC over the past two years, but his most significant appearance came in the form of a controversial decision loss to WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner during their title fight in January of this year. He will be looking to climb back into the title hunt with a win on Saturday night. His opponent will come in the form of the Karate based striker Ratcliff, who trains out of Team Alliance in San Diego, California with the likes of Brandon Vera and Dominick Cruz. Ratcliff, like Cerrone, has also earned 3 wins in the WEC since making his promotional debut for the organization in 2007. In Ratcliff’s most recent outing, he earned a unanimous decision victory over Phil Cardella at WEC 42 in August.
The main card will also feature a clash between two of the WEC lightweight division’s most explosive standup fighters, as the Nigerian-American striker Anthony "The Assassin" Njokuani clashes with the Polish-Canadian striker Chris "The Polish Hammer" Horodecki. Njokuani is coming into this bout, fresh off of receiving two consecutive WEC "KO of the Night" honors at WEC 40 in April and WEC 43 in October, where he dispatched IFL veteran Bart Palaszewski and EliteXC veteran Muhsin Corbbrey respectively. He will now face a more dangerous adversary in Horodecki, who will be making his promotional debut for the WEC. Horodecki quickly carved out a niche for himself after becoming one of the IFL’s biggest stars up until that promotion folded in 2008. He then signed on with Affliction, but had his lone fight for that promotion nixed after he failed a physical last January. Now that Affliction, like the IFL, has ceased operations, Horodecki will look to ply his trade in the ever-deepening realms of the WEC lightweight division.
Another featured bout on the main card will take place in the bantamweight division, as the world champion jiu-jitsu black belt Rani Yahya returns to take on the former collegiate wrestler Joseph Benavidez. Along with being highly decorated grapplers in their respective arts, both fighters have also found success fighting in Japan before joining the WEC ranks. Yahya also boasts an incredible 93.33 % submission percentage and three WEC "Submission of the Night" honors. Meanwhile, Benavidez is coming into this bout fired, after he received his first loss via unanimous decision in a #1 contender’s bout against Dominick Cruz in August. The winner of this bout could possibly position themselves in the thick of things for a title shot, where they would face the winner of Brian Bowles vs. Dominick Cruz who are set to fight in March.
The final main card bout, which is guaranteed to air on the Versus broadcast, will be another high-level bantamweight tilt between two of the division’s most talented fighters. Former title contender Takeya Mizugaki of Japan made his WEC debut in April against former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres in what many consider one of the best title fights of the year. Mizugaki would go on to drop a unanimous decision nod, but rebounded nicely in August by picking up a split decision victory over the well-respected Jeff Curran. Mizugaki will now look to lock horns with the American fighter Scott Jorgensen, who hails from Boise, Idaho. Jorgensen has strung together 3 wins in the WEC since making his promotional debut in early 2008 and will look to secure his biggest win to date with a win over Mizugaki on Saturday night.
-Donald Cerrone vs. Ed Ratcliff (Lightweight Bout)
-Anthony Njokuani vs. Chris Horodecki (Lightweight Bout)
-Joseph Benavidez vs. Rani Yahya (Bantamweight Bout)
-Takeya Mizugaki vs. Scott Jorgensen (Bantamweight Bout)
-Bart Palszewski vs. Anthony Pettis (Lightweight Bout)
-Muhsin Corbbrey vs. Zack Micklewright (Lightweight Bout)
-John Hosman vs. Chad George (Bantamweight bout)
-Brandon Visher vs. Courtney Buck (Featherweight Bout)
-Brad Pickett vs. Kyle Dietz (Bantamweight Bout)
-Jameel Massouh vs. Erik Koch (Featherweight Bout)