A two-time collegiate All-American wrestler at the NAIA level, Castillo has secured seven of his nine victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. The 31-year-old Californian halted a two-fight losing streak at WEC 50 in August, when he defeated Dustin Poirier by unanimous decision at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Wins over American Top Team’s Rafael Dias, the surging Ricardo Lamas and Shark Fights veteran Phil Cardella anchor Castillo’s resume.
Kerr has posted six wins in seven appearances, losing only to the unbeaten Kamal Shalorus. Spawned by the Strike Zone MMA camp, the 27-year-old Connecticut native submitted Karen Darabedyan with a first-round armbar at WEC 49 in June. Kerr, a former Full Force Productions lightweight champion, owns a 2008 unanimous decision victory over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 cast member Marc Stevens.
Meanwhile, once-beaten Nova Uniao standout Renan do Nascimento Mota Pegado will lock horns with Chris Cariaso in a preliminary featherweight match.
Pegado will carry a 13-fight winning streak into the bout. A former Shooto Brazil champion, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt submitted Anthony Leone with a third-round armbar in his promotional debut at WEC 49 in June. Pegado has delivered 17 of his 23 career victories by KO, TKO or submission. In 25 professional appearances, he has never been finished.
A San Francisco-based muay Thai practitioner, Cariaso has rattled off four consecutive wins. The 29-year-old Strikeforce veteran last appeared at WEC 49 in June, when he upended American Top Team’s Rafael Rebello by unanimous decision at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Six of Cariaso’s 10 victories have gone the distance.
A pair of five-round title bouts will headline WEC 53, as lightweight champion Benson Henderson defends against Duke Roufus protégé Anthony Pettis and bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz squares off with top contender Scott Jorgensen.
WEC 53 “Henderson vs. Pettis”
Thursday, Dec. 16
WEC Lightweight Championship
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
WEC Bantamweight Championship
Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen
Danny Castillo vs. Will Kerr
Renan do Nascimento Mota Pegado vs. Chris Cariaso
* Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki
* Jamie Varner vs. Shane Roller
* Bart Palaszewski vs. Kamal Shalorus
* Tie Quan Zhang vs. Daniel Downes
* Not Offical