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WEC 42: Torres vs. Bowles review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on August 25, 2009, 7:07 AM

WEC 42: Torres vs. Bowles

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Frank Mir. They run down the card, mainly discussing the main event of Miguel Torres vs. Brian Bowles. Mir believes Torres is possibly pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world.

Featherweight Fight: Leonard Garcia vs Jameel Massouh

Originally scheduled for the untelevised undercard, this got bumped to the TV portion for, well, honestly I don’t know. Not complaining though as I love Leonard Garcia and thought it was crap that he was pushed to the prelims anyway. Hey, he only lost to Mike Brown for crying out loud. Massouh had dropped his WEC debut to Raphael Assuncao – no shame there – and was given another incredibly tough fight here.

Round One and Garcia opens with a pair of stiff jabs. Leg kick to answer from Massouh. Striking exchange continues with neither man landing anything major. Good left hook from Garcia. BIG RIGHT HAND drops Massouh badly and Garcia pounces and looks to finish, but Massouh does a good job of tying him up from the guard while he tries to recover. Elbows from Garcia into half-guard, but Massouh works to his feet and takes a couple of heavy knees in the clinch. Garcia is throwing BOMBS here and Massouh still looks wobbly, but manages to survive. Takedown attempt from Massouh and Leonard tries to defend, but Massouh trips him down and gets to half-guard. Full mount from Massouh but it’s only for a second as Garcia sneaks a butterfly hook back in. Elbows land from Massouh though but Leonard scrambles to full guard. Garcia uses the cage to twist himself into an armbar attempt, but Massouh avoids it and drops some more elbows. Round ends with Massouh slugging away from the top. Great opening round. 10-9 Leonard Garcia.

Second round and they circle with Massouh landing a hard leg kick. Into the clinch briefly and then Massouh shoots and gets a takedown. Leonard clamps up on a guillotine though and he has full guard, leaning right back, but it’s not tight enough and Massouh pops his head free. Garcia keeps an active guard, but he begins to take some elbows again and then it looks like he’s locking up a D’Arce choke. Massouh passes into half-guard and gives up on the choke, landing some short blows instead. Couple of nice elbows land to the face. Garcia looks to turn into him, but Massouh locks up the D’Arce again and this time it looks sunk! Garcia is in deep trouble here as Massouh escapes from inside Garcia’s legs, and Leonard forces his way back to his feet but he’s still trapped in the choke! Garcia looks like he’s going limp, collapsing to the ground, but then Massouh releases the choke and spins to his back! Why would you do that? Just, WHY? Garcia stands now with Massouh holding a rear waistlock, and it’s clear that Garcia is wobbly as hell. They break off though and boy was that a huge missed opportunity. Garcia’s hands are mad low but Massouh is barely attacking, letting him recover. They clinch up against the cage and exchange some punches inside, and the round ends there. 10-9 Massouh but anyone with a brain would’ve kept that choke locked in and finished Garcia there.

Round Three and Garcia looks a little fresher, pressing forward with a glancing head kick. Good body kick by Massouh as they circle and the action is greatly slowed down now. Garcia is lunging in with shots and Massouh’s not doing much. Takedown attempt from Massouh and he muscles Leonard into the cage, but Garcia works to break off. Garcia is swinging a bit wildly now, landing a left hook, but a lot of his shots look telegraphed. Massouh closes the distance and gets a bodylock against the cage, but he can’t do much with it and Leonard breaks off. Garcia continues to wing bombs and although they’re not landing cleanly, he’s doing much more than Massouh is and the round peters out.

I’ve got this 29-28 for Leonard Garcia, but really Massouh threw this fight away. Judges score it 29-28, 29-28 Garcia, with the third judge going 29-28 Massouh. Post-fight Garcia admits he was surprised Massouh survived the first big right, and then admits the choke pretty much gassed him out and left him with no energy. Insane that Massouh would just let him go like that! Fight was pretty good, first two rounds were excellent but the third slowed down a ton.

-Video runs down the Bantamweight division with champion Miguel Torres and contenders Brian Bowles, Joseph Benavidez, Dominick Cruz, Takeya Mizugaki, and Rani Yahya.

Bantamweight Fight: Takeya Mizugaki vs Jeff Curran

Well, after the performance he put on against Miguel Torres, it was a no-brainer that Japan’s Mizugaki would be back ASAP, and sure enough here he was faced with another perennial contender in Jeff Curran. Close fight on paper despite Curran dropping his previous fight to Joseph Benavidez – in fact, he was on a three fight losing streak but even so - I had no idea who to pick really. Curran has shaved his head for this fight and looks like a completely different guy, honestly.

We’re underway and they circle, exchanging some low kicks early, before Curran catches one and looks for the takedown. Mizugaki defends it well and they end up clinched against the fence. Elbows to the body from Mizugaki as he continues to defend the single leg, and he has absolutely sick balance as Curran can’t get him down for love or money. Curran drops right down to keep trying it, but he still can’t get Mizugaki on his back as the Japanese fighter posts up the fence to defend. Mizugaki reverses things now and forces Curran into the fence, and now Mizugaki muscles Curran to the ground. Full guard from Big Frog and he tries to tie the Japanese fighter up from his back. Some good ground-and-pound lands for Mizugaki from the guard but Curran turns for an armbar, and then uses it to sweep and go for a takedown. Mizugaki defends but Curran’s got a rear waistlock, and he pulls the Japanese fighter down and gets one hook in. Mizugaki spins out though and gets into top position again with Curran in butterfly guard. Curran ties the arms up again and the round finishes. Difficult round to score, actually.

Round Two and Curran lands with a nice straight right hand. Mizugaki continues to push forward though and lands with a heavy low kick. Couple of side kicks to the leg land for Curran ala Brandon Vera on Keith Jardine, and then he clips Mizugaki with a combo from the outside. Combo from Mizugaki to answer and they clinch, exchanging knees to the thighs. Mizugaki muscles him to the ground, and Curran immediately goes to closed guard. Curran’s defensive guard really is excellent as he’s taking very little damage. Mizugaki tries to posture right up for some ground-and-pound, but Curran continues to do a good job of deflecting it. Mizugaki tries to pass, but Curran keeps an active butterfly guard and manages to get a guillotine locked in. Mizugaki scrambles from the top to try to escape it, and it’s an arm-in choke so Curran’s not likely to finish it off. There’s ten seconds left on the clock and Mizugaki is still stuck in the choke, but the round ends before Curran can finish it.

Third and final round and Curran swings into a takedown attempt, but Mizugaki stuffs it and they clinch against the cage. Good knees to the body from Curran as Mizugaki switches and trips him down to his back. Butterfly guard from Curran again and he tries to elevate the Japanese fighter off before settling into a closed guard. Curran remains active from his back, throwing up triangles, but Mizugaki does a good job of powering through and lands with some shots, but nothing too damaging. This is hard to score as Mizugaki is on top but really Curran is controlling things with his guard and he’s taking little in the way of damage. This is perhaps one of the best guard displays I can remember seeing recently in MMA. Mizugaki, credit to him though, isn’t being fooled by any of this and he’s remaining on top. With less than a minute remaining though Curran almost locks a triangle in fully, and he really squeezes on it, considering going for the arm too, but he ends up sweeping over into a mounted triangle! Mizugaki is in trouble here but the bell might save him, there’s only seconds remaining, and somehow the Japanese fighter turns back into top position and survives the choke! Wow, awesome finish.

Very difficult fight to score; personally I’d go for Jeff Curran but then I’m more sympathetic to guys working from the bottom like he did, particularly as long as the top guy isn’t doing much damage, whereas the judges tend to go for top control, so who knows? Judges have it a split decision, 29-28 Mizugaki, 29-28 Curran and 29-28 for Mizugaki to take the win. Well, I said it was close. I don’t think Curran got robbed or anything but I felt he did more to try to finish the fight. Great technical fight that never really got boring despite the large amount of work in the guard.

-Craig Hummer talks to Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Ben ‘Smooth’ Henderson about their upcoming WEC Interim Lightweight Title bout in Youngstown, Ohio in September. It’s actually been postponed until October now and won’t be in Youngstown; apparently Henderson got injured but I don’t know why they’re moving location, maybe tickets weren’t moving fast? Cerrone gives the thumbs down to Jamie Varner, why can’t people just accept that Varner is injured damnit?

Lightweight Fight: Ricardo Lamas vs Danny Castillo

Wrestler Lamas had upset Bart Palaszewski in his WEC debut back at WEC in, while Castillo had reeled off two wins on the bounce following a debut loss to Donald Cerrone at WEC 32. See, no offense to either of these guys but how this made the main card over Garcia’s fight (originally) and the LC Davis/Javi Vazquez clash I do not know. WEC’s matchmaker is dope but whoever picks which fights are going to be televised ought to be shot.

Opening round begins and they circle and exchange some feeler strikes, before clinching up and muscling for position. They break off and Lamas narrowly misses a big overhand right. Both men throw out some jabs and this is looking like a striking match between two wrestlers which usually isn’t great to be honest. Good leg kick from Castillo though. Combo from Lamas ending with a high kick, but Castillo seems fine and fires right back. Exchange continues and then with one minute left they clinch. Little happens from there and Castillo breaks off, and we’re back to the striking exchange with neither gaining a big advantage. Nice leg kick from Lamas to end the round though.

Round Two and now Castillo opens with a good leg kick. Combo to answer from Lamas. Castillo comes in with a totally telegraphed takedown attempt that Lamas easily stuffs. Both men continuing to strike but I’m still waiting for the big blow to land. Another good leg kick from Lamas. Nice right hand from Lamas and he sprawls to avoid a takedown. Lamas with a good combo and it looks like he’s beginning to pull ahead now. Heavy one-two from Castillo but Lamas blocks it. Both men land big left hooks that send the other backwards. Lamas’ combinations are really beginning to look good now. Good body shot from Castillo though. Body kick to answer from Lamas. Suddenly a BIG RIGHT HAND absolutely FOLDS Lamas, and he goes down face-first! Castillo pounces and pounds away and that’s all folks!

Whoa. Awesome finish from Castillo as Lamas seemed to be in control leading up to that. Just goes to show how anyone can be caught and finished with a big shot in the blink of an eye. Replay shows the punch landed directly on the button and snapped Lamas’s head right around. Sickening stuff. Fight wasn’t great leading up to it – two grapplers having a striking match – but man, you cannot complain about a knockout like that, good lord.

Bantamweight Fight: Joseph Benavidez vs Dominick Cruz

Ah, now THIS is a good fight on paper. Two top-ranked Bantamweights with the winner likely getting the next crack at the title. Despite Cruz being unbeaten at Bantamweight – in fact, unbeaten overall outside of an early loss to Urijah Faber – I was picking Faber’s protégé Benavidez to pick up the victory here, as he’d looked great against Jeff Curran and seemed to be building himself into the next big challenger to Miguel Torres. These guys are in INSANE shape too, absolutely cut to shreds. Cruz looks to have a huge height advantage though.

Round 1 gets started and they exchange some kicks early. Nice combo from Benavidez but Cruz catches a low kick and drops him with a right, then cracks him with a head kick as he pops back up. These guys are so quick it’s like watching a fight in fast-forward. Benavidez kicks his way into the clinch but they break off swiftly. Couple of good punches coming forward from Benavidez and then he flurries into the clinch again. Takedown from Cruz puts Benavidez down in guard, and he works into half-guard. Benavidez locks up a guillotine from his back, but Cruz quickly escapes to his feet to avoid and we’re back to standing. Both men are landing some good punches here, but Cruz’s movement is looking slightly better. Into the clinch again and Cruz takes him down, but Benavidez pops right back up into the clinch and lands a knee. Big “Let’s go Joe!” chant from the crowd as Cruz gets a BEAUTIFUL bodylock takedown to full mount! Benavidez scrambles though and gives his back, then explodes to his feet. Nice! They’re still clinched though but Cruz can’t get him down again and they break off. Combo from Cruz and he avoids a kick from Benavidez on the buzzer.

Round 2 and these guys are in sick condition, not slowing down in the slightest. They circle around and Benavidez is swinging bombs, but he’s struggling with the shorter reach it seems. Nice flurry from Cruz and it looks like he’s got Benavidez stunned, and then Cruz looks for the takedown but Benavidez uses a guillotine to block, forcing him into the cage. Elbow from Benavidez to break off. Benavidez continues to come forward, but he gets caught on the counter due to the reach and now Cruz goes into overdrive, swinging for the fences before landing with a HARD left knee to the jaw! Benavidez quickly looks for a takedown, but Cruz hip throws him and lands in side mount. Benavidez rolls and gives his back, then kicks Cruz away and pops back to his feet. Spinning backfist misses for Benavidez but he lands a hook and then drops for a single leg. Cruz works to defend and they end up clinched, but Cruz breaks with a knee. Nice combo from Cruz from an odd angle. We’ve got a minute to go in the 2nd and both men are still going hell for leather. Spinning backfist narrowly misses again for Benavidez. Nice right hook from Cruz into a takedown to guard, and he ends the round on top position.

Round 3 and it looks like Dominick Cruz is ahead I would say. Flying kick misses off the bat for Benavidez. Cruz’s footwork is looking really good and he lands with a right hook. Slip from Cruz and Benavidez looks to capitalize with a flurry, but doesn’t land clean. Both continue to swing but Benavidez seems to be having a hard time reaching the taller Cruz. Big leg kick from Cruz catches Benavidez off balance and he goes down for a second. Back up instantly though and the exchange continues before Cruz tackles him to the ground in side mount. Benavidez scrambles to his feet practically right away, and they quickly break the clinch. More striking and both men are landing but aren’t doing major damage, and then Cruz gets a throw, but Benavidez pops right back up again. Exchange continues and good lord are these guys moving fast. Another takedown follows for Cruz and he flurries quickly before taking the back. Benavidez scrambles like a madman to get free, and Cruz struggles to get the hooks in but manages to control him before the buzzer sounds. Insane fight.

Judges score it a unanimous decision for Dominick Cruz, 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28, but really in a fight that good there is no true loser and either man would be well worth a title shot I think. Just a ridiculously fast-paced fight with some crazy exchanges and great scrambles too. Not quite a FOTYC but it’s very very close to that standard. I for one can’t wait for Cruz’s title shot now.

WEC World Bantamweight Title: Miguel Angel Torres vs Brian Bowles

This had originally been set to take place at WEC 40, but Bowles got injured in training and so Mizugaki stepped in and put on an early FOTYC with the champ, losing a five-round decision. Bowles looked on paper to be the biggest threat yet to Torres – great striking, great submission skills and a large guy for 135lbs, but let’s be fair, Torres had looked basically unbeatable prior to this and personally I couldn’t see anyone dethroning him at that weight. Although having said that, people thought the same with Urijah Faber before he came up against a very similar fighter to Bowles in Mike Brown...we shall see.

Entrances are pretty telling here as Bowles is such a quiet, unassuming guy while Torres with the Latino music and everything just comes off like such a big star at this stage that it’s not even funny. It’s absolutely criminal in my opinion, however much I love the WEC, that this guy isn’t selling millions of pay-per-views and making millions of dollars for himself in the UFC right now. Absolutely criminal.

And we’re underway! They circle around and look pretty tentative early before Torres throws out a pair of low kicks. Suddenly Bowles CRACKS him with a right hand and the champ looks stunned! Bowles looks to follow up but Torres has SICK recovery power and fires right back with a pair of lefts! They continue to circle and then Torres flurries into a clinch. Takedown from Bowles but Torres has full guard and he uses his feet to pivot away from the cage. Bowles lands with a couple of short elbows, but Torres gets his legs up for a submission and then hits Bowles with some upkicks from his back like a crab. Bowles stays on top though and Torres kicks at Bowles’ legs from his back. Big “TORRES” chant from the crowd. Bowles stands up over him and avoids the upkicks, and the champ ops back up to his feet. Bowles is throwing some powerful shots here but Torres manages to slip them. Torres comes back with a BIG ONE-TWO and Bowles looks hurt, and now the champ charges forward and UNLOADS with a flurry, but Bowles counters and DROPS HIM WITH A RIGHT! Torres looks to spin to guard, but takes some more shots over the top and TORRES IS OUT! HOLY SHIT.

Replay shows Torres got knocked completely unconscious there, stiffened out and everything. Never expected that to happen at all, Jesus. Replay shows he got way too wild with his flurry and just walked into the right hook, and from there he left himself a bit too open trying to spin to guard and Bowles just put his lights out. Unbelievable win for Brian Bowles to take the Bantamweight Title. Post-fight basically everyone is in shock, well, except Bowles that is.

Scary parallels to the Faber-Brown situation then, with a soft-spoken, charismatically-challenged fighter taking the title and #1 status from an easily marketable, charismatic star of a champion. Like the Faber-Brown fight the first time around it looked more like the champ got caught cold and there’s definitely money in the rematch I think. And just like the Faber-Brown situation, Bowles will likely defend against another challenger (Cruz, like Brown defended against Garcia) while Torres will likely rematch a former opponent who went five rounds (Mizugaki, like Faber did with Pulver) to lead into a rematch. And I for one can’t wait. Easily the biggest upset of 2009 thus far and for a four-minute fight that was awesome.

-And we roll the credits with everyone still shell-shocked.

Final Thoughts....

Although I do have some issues with WEC (namely the fights they choose to televise!) who could complain about a card like this? Once again it was filled with action-packed fights from start to finish, and even the ‘Worst Fight’ wasn’t especially bad or anything. Standout fight was Cruz-Benavidez purely for the incredible pace, but Garcia-Massouh was fun too, as was the great technical match in Curran-Mizugaki, and while Bowles-Torres didn’t last long it was explosive as hell and ended in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Easy thumbs up for WEC 42, as per usual for this promotion.

Best Fight: Cruz-Benavidez
Worst Fight: Castillo-Lamas

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 95-101, Fight Night 18.
DREAM: 9-10.
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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