WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on May 11, 2010, 4:35 AM
WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz
-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Stephan Bonnar, replacing Frank Mir who I believe was canned after the controversial interview where he said he’d like to literally kill Brock Lesnar in the Octagon. Bonnar’s not bad on the mic actually, but hilariously he looks like he’s done a couple of lines of coke backstage prior to the fight, as his beady-eyed stare is really, REALLY creepy. Don’t believe me?
Armenian Darabedyan had impressed me hugely in his WEC debut, going over the former Lightweight champion Razor Rob McCullough, while Palaszewski had come into the WEC with a lot of fanfare but hadn’t really lived up to it thus far, losing two in a row before picking up a close win over Anthony Pettis. I expected Darabedyan to be able to take the win here, setting him up for a possible title shot in the near future.
First round begins and they circle with not much action for the first thirty seconds or so. Good low kick from Bart. Big combo lands for Darabedyan, and Palaszewski looks stunned, but tries to fire right back. Karen goes for a takedown and manages to slam Bart down, landing in side mount where he drops some hard hammer fists. Bart looks to spin into an oma plata, but Darabedyan spins out and winds up in the closed guard. Armbar attempt from Bart but Darabedyan postures out and continues to drop punches. Karen passes into half-guard where he lands some more shots before Bart gets back into full guard and connects with a solid upkick. Bart keeps a high guard as Darabedyan works from the top, and it looks like he’s setting up for a sub, but Karen keeps landing blows. Some really nice punches landing for the Armenian. Thirty seconds to go though and Karen gets a bit wild from the top, and as he swings a heavy punch Palaszewski pulls out an armbar and straightens it out for the tap!
Fun fight and it was really a come-from-behind victory for Palaszewski as he was taking a bit of a beating leading up to the armbar. Bart kept on threatening from the guard though and Darabedyan just didn’t do enough to avoid the submission in the end. Good opener.
Common opponent for these two? Javier Vazquez, who by all reports, got dicked over by the judges in his fights with both of them. Since then both men had picked up another win each, with Taurosevicius’ being the more impressive as he’d clearly beaten Mackens Semerzier, who caused a storm by tapping formerly #2 ranked Wagnney Fabiano earlier in 2009. I figured the Lithuanian – who looks massive for 145lbs – would grind out another win here.
Round One and they circle for the first minute with little action before clinching, where Davis forces him into the fence. They exchange some short strikes inside the clinch with neither really gaining an advantage, before Taurosevicius reverses position and forces Davis into the fence, looking for a takedown. He can’t get it and they continue to muscle in the clinch, before the referee breaks them. Good low kick from Taurosevicius as he comes forward, answered by Davis with a right hand. Back to the clinch and Davis muscles him into the fence. Both men defend takedown attempts, with Davis blocking a really deep single leg, and that’s the round. Horribly dull. Got to be 10-10 as neither guy did anything of note really.
Round Two and they throw some strikes from distance with neither man landing anything effective. Takedown attempt from Taurosevicius but Davis manages to stuff it again, even with the Lithuanian really deep on a double leg. Davis manages to sprawl out and they wind up on the ground, but come up quickly and finally Taurosevicius gets him down. Davis ends up seated against the fence but before Deividas can do any damage, he wall-walks to his feet. We’re back in the clinch like the first round now. Knee appears to land to Davis’s groin, but the ref chooses to ignore it even as Davis groans in pain. Weird decision there. He should’ve called time. They continue to muscle in the clinch and exchange knees and short punches before the ref finally separates them. Taurosevicius walks into a right hand and then we’re back to the clinch, where Davis defends another takedown. Round ends there. Erm, 10-9 Taurosevicius I guess as he got a takedown.
Third and final round of what has been a truly awful fight so far. Again they exchange totally ineffective strikes from distance, then Davis secures another clinch. This time we get the clinch for about a minute and half before Davis breaks off. Look, I’m all for letting the fighters fight, but why the ref isn’t separating these guys I don’t know. Awful, tentative striking exchange follows and then – you guessed it – they clinch again! Davis continues to stuff the takedown attempts and then the ref breaks with two minutes to go. Left hand from Davis and then he shoots and finally gets a takedown to guard. Very little happens on the ground outside of Deividas using a crude rubber guard to land punches. Ref stands them up and we get another ineffective exchange into a clinch to finish the fight. 10-9 Davis.
I have this a 29-29 draw, but lord knows how the judges will score it. Who cares, frankly? Fight was crap. We’ve got a 29-29, 29-28, 29-28 for LC Davis. Worst fight of the year thus far I think. Strangely enough I’m not blaming the fighters here as they did actually work in the clinch, but neither man could gain any sort of advantage, and in that situation the ref is supposed to step in and separate them for inactivity, not just let them bore the crowd to death. Throw in the ignoring the low blow and this was a shitty job from the official.
-Todd Harris joins Urijah Faber and Donald Cerrone to talk about their upcoming title fights with Jose Aldo and Ben Henderson respectively. Cerrone really sounds like a genuine cowboy when he talks. Faber as always just oozes charisma. Nothing really of note in the interview but Faber could probably read a dictionary and still get the crowd to pop.
Coming in, the majority of fans including myself figured this was the last chance saloon for Pulver, as after his incredible first fight with Urijah Faber, he’d lost a further three on the bounce, and even seemed to be considering retirement after his last loss to Josh Grispi. Vazquez meanwhile was in a last chance saloon of his own, after losing to both LC Davis and Deividas Taurosevicius since moving from Affliction. Still, those two fights had apparently been bad decisions and I like Javi a lot so I was hoping win or lose, he’d be kept on after this fight. I’ll be honest here and say I didn’t even pick a winner because I didn’t want either man to lose. Massive crowd pop for Pulver, naturally. Vazquez looks much larger, though.
We begin and Jens pushes forward, looking to fire off the left hand as the crowd chant his name. Vazquez gets a takedown and winds up in a guillotine attempt that Pulver uses to roll into top position, but he escapes and so Jens decides to stand free. Wild left hand misses for Javi. Low kick from Pulver is caught and Vazquez gets a takedown, then takes the back as Pulver looks to scramble free. Both hooks in and then Jens turns and gives up full mount, before managing to roll into Javi’s guard! Big pop for that. Elbow from Pulver and he decides to stand again, but Vazquez pops up beautifully and gets another takedown. He passes quickly into half-guard and then to side mount, and Pulver tries to roll free but wind up caught in the crucifix. Javi drops some heavy blows to the head before Jens rolls and gives his back. Javi puts both hooks in and goes for the rear naked choke, then turns into full mount. Pulver looks in deep trouble now and Vazquez turns for an armbar and extends it, and the ref steps in to stop it as it looks like Jens’ arm pops. Crowd boo wildly for the finish as Pulver looks hurt.
Post-fight Vazquez admits if he were a fan he’d have been cheering for Pulver too, really putting Jens over, then says he couldn’t have scripted the fight better for himself. Harris then talks to Pulver, who gets emotional, putting Vazquez over as a great grappler before saying he doesn’t know if he can put his fans through this any more and it pretty much feels like an unofficial retirement speech. Gotta love Jens.
I think this is the end of the road for Pulver and if it is, well, now Mir’s canned from announcing, why not put him in there to keep him around, as he’s a great ambassador for the sport, but you just don’t want to see him keep on losing to guys like he has been. I mean granted, he’s not punch-drunk and he hasn’t lost to any nobodies – I think Javi Vazquez is top ten and a genuine title contender – but the game does seem to have passed him by at this stage, which of course it does to any ageing legend. Regardless, he’ll always be one of my favourites as he was one of the first guys I got into when I started watching MMA. Sad fight to watch, not that it was bad or anything.
Prelim taped from earlier in the night. Not sure who the original opponent for Jorgensen had been here but I’m sure it wasn’t George – who I’ve never heard of before – as Jorgensen is a bonafide top ten contender now and must’ve been matched with someone a little stronger.
We begin and Jorgensen stalks forward before George shoots. Jorgensen blocks it and grabs a guillotine, sprawling out before really locking it up, and from there he drags George towards the fence and then LIFTS HIM INTO THE AIR for a sick, SICK submission. Awesome!
Total squash as George was no match for Jorgensen, but it was awesome to see a total highlight-reel finish like that. One of the most horrible looking submissions I’ve seen in some time. Replay actually shows George KICKING HIS LEGS during the choke. Man. Scott Jorgensen rules, bro.
This was Torres’ first fight back following his shocking loss to Brian Bowles in August, a fight I still couldn’t really believe had gone down the way it had. I like Benavidez a lot and he never has a boring fight but I just couldn’t see how he could possibly beat Torres in this one (despite being like, a top four BW himself) and figured Miguel would smash him en route to reclaiming his title later in the year.
Benavidez enters to Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold, which is like, one of the best entrance themes you could ever choose. Love it. Torres meanwhile has a more playful Mariachi track than his usual one and the infamous mullet is cut so short it’s almost gone! Damn. Height difference here is ludicrous as Torres towers over Benavidez, but Joseph is a lot thicker looking.
Round One begins with Torres circling around on the outside as Benavidez takes the center of the cage. Couple of low kicks exchanged early. Benavidez begins to stalk forward, countering a body kick with an overhand right. Wild exchange follows with both men landing shots. They exchange low kicks and then Benavidez counters one and drops Torres with a right. He looks fine though and walks forward in the crab position throwing kicks. Looks like he got caught off balance more than knocked down. Torres stands back up, but Benavidez closes the distance, forcing him into the cage. Good knee to the body from Torres. Beautiful throw from Benavidez puts him on top in Torres’ guard, and the former champ busts out some vintage Royce Gracie kicks to the kidneys. Armbar attempt from Torres but Benavidez avoids it and grabs a headlock on the ground. Scramble and Benavidez ends up sprawled out holding the front facelock. He’s in Torres’ half-guard now. Couple of forearms from Benavidez but Torres works full guard back in. More heel kicks from Torres end it. Close round. Probably Benavidez’s, actually.
Round Two and Torres circles out again; can’t recall him ever fighting this passively before. Benavidez throws a couple of power hooks but Torres covers up and avoids. Little action in the first minute. Jab lands for Torres. Good left hand from Benavidez. Low kick from Faber’s protégé. Couple more jabs from Torres. Benavidez presses forward and gets a nice takedown to guard, where he avoids an instant sub attempt and lands some elbows. Torres is cut badly and blood is just POURING out of his head now, giving him the crimson mask as he kicks Joseph away. Benavidez looks to get back on top, but as he does, Torres rolls....but leaves his neck free and Benavidez clamps on with a TIGHT GUILLOTINE and rolls through....and TORRES TAPS OUT! Holy shit.
Replays show the elbow that caused the cut and damn, I think it was so deep that had Benavidez not gotten the choke when he did the doctor probably would’ve stopped the fight anyway. Unbelievable stuff but to me Torres just didn’t look himself, didn’t come in with the usual fire that he has and Benavidez was able to control the pace of the fight from the start really. Huge win for him, especially to actually tap Torres out as he’s such a renowned submission guy while Benavidez really isn’t. A lot of people came out and said Torres was overrated after this loss (his second in a row, remember) but while I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, as he *was* clearly the top 135lber in the world through 2008-2009, the division is so new to this kind of exposure that really, the top guys haven’t truly been established or fought one another yet and so anointing him as a pound-for-pound great was probably premature. I still think he bounces back from this though! Good fight, anyway, with a hell of a shocking ending.
Another prelim taped from earlier in the night, both men were looking to rebound from losses – Castillo to Shane Roller, Pettis to Bart Palaszewski – to keep their WEC careers alive.
Pretty crazy pre-fight staredown here as both men look mad intense. No touch of gloves to begin and they both press the action with Castillo reaching forward with his hands. They exchange some feeler strikes from distance with neither man really landing anything. Single leg from Castillo and he gets Pettis down in guard. Castillo decides to stand to attempt a right hand, but Pettis gets his legs up and blocks. Castillo stands back up and lets Pettis join him, and we’re back to circling with Castillo throwing out some jabs. Jumping knee attempt misses by a mile for Pettis and Castillo forces him into the cage in a clinch. Knee lands low for Castillo though and the ref calls time to let Pettis recover. They restart quickly and Castillo lands a leg kick. Jab from Pettis and he follows with a stiff right hand. One-two follows and then Pettis channels his inner Cro Cop and lands a SICK LEFT HIGH KICK that knocks Castillo into next week!
Jesus Christ. Sick knockout there. One of the best of 2010 thus far, easily. Castillo was out like a light, dude. Tremendous stuff.
Man, if you’d gone back to say, July 2009, right before Torres defended the title against Bowles, and told me this would be the next WEC Bantamweight Title match I’d probably have laughed in your face. But of course, Bowles had upset Torres to steal away the crown while Cruz – still undefeated at 135lbs – had upset Joseph Benavidez on the same card to earn the title shot. Cruz is an interesting case actually as despite clearly outpointing Benavidez he was still a major underdog here, even though his only career loss is to Urijah Faber. I was no different though and couldn’t see Bowles losing the belt in his first defense.
We begin and Cruz pushes forward early and lands a couple of leg kicks, countered by a right hand from Bowles. Good step-in right from Cruz but Bowles counters with one of his own that puts the challenger on the retreat for a moment. Nice counter from Cruz on the way out though. Right hand from Cruz coming forward. Nice leg kick from Cruz and he avoids a flurry from the champion. Cruz’s footwork is really good. Flurry from Bowles and both men connect with heavy right hands. Right hook from Cruz stuns Bowles slightly and the challenger looks to follow up, but Bowles recovers quickly. Cruz continues to press forward and he’s doing a good job of picking at the champion. Beautiful counter-right lands for Cruz as Bowles comes forward. Body punch from Cruz. Bowles pushes forward but Cruz gets a quick takedown to guard. Bowles ties him up from the guard and nothing really happens, and Cruz decides to back out and bring the fight back to standing. Cruz avoids a flurry and then fires back with an incredibly swift combo. Round ends just after. Cruz’s round, 10-9.
Second round and Cruz is still dancing around nicely. This guy is very hard to hit. Another counter-right lands as he avoids a Bowles combo. Nice leg kick from the challenger. Bowles finally lands with a right as Cruz comes in, but it doesn’t have much effect. Bowles is sporting a bloody nose now. Leg kick from Cruz is caught but he avoids a right hand and counters with a right of his own. Some jabs land for Cruz and he follows with a combination into a leg kick that drops Bowles for a second. The champ comes back up but eats another one-two. Cruz is picking Bowles apart. Another heavy leg kick from Cruz but this time Bowles counters with a right hook that lands flush. Another combo into a devastating low kick from Cruz. Did not expect this. More counter-strikes land for Cruz as Bowles is beginning to look a bit flustered. Low blow lands for Cruz though and the ref calls time. Looked like Cruz went for a knee and the foot hit the groin instead. Bowles’ nose is really bloody now. They restart and exchange some strikes with both men landing this time. Big flurry from Bowles but Cruz gets out and lands a counter on his way. Bowles’ left eye looks swollen now too. Takedown from Cruz to guard again with seconds to go, probably looking to put a stamp on the round. Round ends as Cruz stands up. 10-9 Dominick Cruz.
We return from a break....and the fight’s been stopped. Crowd do not sound happy. Todd Harris informs us that the doctor has decided that it’s unsafe for Bowles to continue, although they’re still debating exactly why. Wow, talk about an anticlimactic finish. I mean, Cruz was winning the fight for sure, but to see a fight stopped like that is always shitty. Finally they realize that Bowles’ hand is seemingly broken which is why the fight’s over. At any rate, Cruz is the new WEC Bantamweight Champion. This was a very impressive performance from him as he used angles and footwork to pick Bowles apart for the majority of the fight, but whether Bowles could’ve turned it around in the later rounds I guess we’ll never know. Really terrible ending to what could’ve turned into a very good fight.
Post-fight Bowles admits he broke his hand with the first punch of the fight and it totally threw him off his gameplan. He pretty much says he’ll probably have to fight someone else before a rematch. Personally – as he’s going to be out with the hand injury for a while anyway – I think they should have Cruz make a defense and then let Bowles fight the winner, as it wasn’t really a definitive way to lose the title for him.
-Announcers wrap the night up and then plug the upcoming UFC on Versus and Aldo vs. Faber shows.
Another very good show from the WEC, this one didn’t quite live up to the classic shows like WEC 35 or 41 simply because we didn’t have one truly great fight, and Davis-Taurosevicius absolutely sucked. But Benavidez-Torres was really good, Cruz-Bowles was shaping up to be excellent before the anticlimactic finish, and Pulver-Vazquez was a good fight with a very emotional ending. Throw in the highlight reel finishes for Jorgensen and Pettis and this is an easy thumbs up show – just skip past Davis-Taurosevicius.
Best Fight: Benavidez-Torres
Worst Fight: Davis-Taurosevicius
Overall Rating: ****1/4
UFC: 109-113, Fight Night 21, Versus 1
King of the Cage: Various shows