Cruz Captures WEC Title, Benavidez Shocks Torres

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dominick Cruz used his signature lightning-fast footwork to confuse and frustrate Brian Bowles en route to capturing his first major championship.

Bowles, the soft-spoken champion who stunned Miguel Torres last fall, continually chased Cruz around the cage in a desperate attempt to land the trademark power punch that earned him the WEC bantamweight championship in the first place. The only problem? Bowles broke his right hand on the first punch of the night, an injury that took away his biggest asset. It also led directly to the end of the fight, as the injured hand forced Bowles to resign from the bout at the end of the second round.

“He broke his hand on my face,” Cruz said following the bout. “I was ready to fight with a broken hand, a broken leg or a broken face. I’ve worked my whole life for this belt.”

It was a curious instance of a champion conceding defeat due to a hand injury. Former featherweight champion Urijah Faber famously broke both hands during a fight with Mike Brown last year, but weathered the injury and continued to fight. Bowles said after the fight that he would take time off to properly heal his hand before returning to action.

Cruz will likely find himself in a rematch with Joseph Benavidez for his first title defense.

BENAVIDEZ SUBMITS TORRES

Benavidez shocked the world by steamrolling the heavily-favored Miguel Angel Torres in the co-main event of the evening. Torres, who had a huge reach and height advantage over the Alpha Male fighter, seemed hesitant from the start of the bout. Near the end of the second round, Benavidez used an elbow from the guard to open up a nasty cut on Torres’ forehead. The cut began bleeding almost immediately, and it seemed to confuse the former champion, who moved to his knees. It was the opening Benavidez was looking for, and he locked on a tight guillotine that forced Torres to tap.

“I knew after the first round that I’d seen everything he had,” Benavidez said. “I knew he wasn’t going to hurt me, and it gave me a lot of confidence.”

While nothing is set in stone, it appears Benavidez will be given a chance to avenge his only career loss, a unanimous decision to Cruz last August. This time, they’ll meet for the bantamweight championship.

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