The WEC's revolving door of champions continues to spin-- a testament to how competitive the lighter weight divisions are in the sport of MMA. A night of great fights and pulse-pounding upsets, tonight will certainly change the course of the bantamweight division.
Javier Vazquez def. Jens Pulver (Armbar, 3:41 of Rd 1)
It was hard to see Jens go down so early, marking his fifth loss in a row, and fourth in a streak of first round finishes. The fans of Pulver have gathered around the slogan "Forever Relevant" since career began to slide, but now I wonder just how much truth that has left in it. Obviously, no one can take away what he has done for the sport. He is and will forever be a legend in MMA. Still, after falling on such hard times as a fighter, perhaps it would be better for him to pass the torch on for good. I'm sure at this point he would make a much better coach or trainer than a fighter.
Joseph Benavidez def. Miguel Torres (Guillotine Choke, 2:57 of Rd 2)
Benavidez definitely earned himself a new fan after tonight. Coming in as a heavy underdog, no one expected him to take the fight to the former champ like he did. Torres looked more than a little shaky coming into the fight, which I'm hoping was a case of ring rust from his seven month layoff. After a lot of good action in the first round, Joseph hit a beautiful double leg takedown in the middle of the second, following up with a vicious elbow that opened Miguel up like a fountain. In the ensuing scramble, Benavidez quickly seized an arm-in guillotine choke that won him the Submission of the Night. It is likely that this victory will move him up for a title shot against the new 135 lb. champion, Dominick Cruz, whom he lost to last August.
[Update: I didn't realize how bad the Benavidez had cut Torres, but now a photo has surfaced showing the extent of the damage. It's not for the faint of heart, click here to see it.]
Dominick Cruz def. Brian Bowles (TKO due to doctor's stoppage, 5:00 of Rd 2)
A dazzling display of footwork and counter-punching was put on for two rounds as Dominick Cruz danced his way into the bantamweight championship. Bowles was definitely a game fighter, but seemed to lack the technical skill to compete with Cruz, who constantly cut new angles and landed a variety of counter-rights and low kicks. While not as crisp and composed as fighters like Anderson Silva or Lyoto Machida, Dominick's boxing skills are definitely something to watch out for. Currently undefeated as 135 lbs. (and his only loss coming from Uriah Faber at 145), Cruz continues to improve, and I think he just might stick around as champ for a long time.