WEC 47 Recap: The Night of the Underdog
After a compelling night of fights from the incredibly talented fighters of the WEC, I’m once again thankful that I didn’t make any pre-fight predictions. This was most certainly the night of the underdog, especially on the main card as 4 of the 5 favored fighters went down, some in dramatic fashion.
The main card opened with a lightweight fight that was expected to be a showcase of the talented Armenian prospect Karen Darabedyan against WEC veteran Bart Palaszewski. At first, Darabedyan looked like he had earned the hype as he beat back Palaszewski standing, got him against the cage and took him down violently. While on the ground, Darabedyan looked to finish the fight via ground and pound, but I noticed he was leaving a little too much space for Bart to move around on the bottom. You never want to give a veteran an opening. After a couple failed attempts at an armbar on the ground, Palaszewski locked one in with about 25 seconds left in the first round to earn an amazing comeback victory.
If the first fight brought the crowd to its collective feet, the second one put them back in their seats and then some as Deividas Taurosevičius took on LC Davis in a featherweight bout. This was more a battle of will than anything as the majority of the fight took place in the clinch with both fighters heavily leaning on each other, throwing short knees and endlessly working for takedowns. There were multiple resets by the referee who tried his best to get both fighters to exchange or at least do something exciting, but they were very set on their gameplans and both went right back to work in the clinch. It was incredibly difficult to score and when the dust settled, Davis got the win via majority decision.
Jens “Lil’ Evil” Pulver took on the talented Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Javier Vasquez in what many considered a “win or go home” fight in the featherweight division. Pulver was giving it one last try at remaining competitive and Vasquez was trying to avoid the first three fight losing streak of his career. The fight opened very excitingly as Pulver went for a deep guillotine, but he must not have had it tight enough as Vasquez patiently worked out of it. It was very apparent that Vasquez had the advantage on the ground early as he turned some bad positions into dominant ones, but when he went for the full mount he got a little overaggressive and Pulver reversed it beautifully. Pulver smartly stood back up and decided to throw a few kicks at Vasquez’s legs while standing. This ended up being the deciding factor in the fight as Vasquez (from his back) pushed Pulver back, rocked forward and grabbed him for a takedown. He quickly moved to the dominant crucifix position, gained full mount and finished the fight with a slick armbar transition. This was the 4th straight first round stoppage loss for Pulver and he certainly sounded like he was calling it a career in his post fight interview.
In the co-main event, Miguel Torres took on Joseph Benavidez in a bantamweight number one contender match. Torres had a much publicized 5 inch height advantage and an unheard of 11 inch reach advantage and he looked to exploit both. When the opening bell sounded, it appeared we were witnessing a much more cautious Miguel Torres as he was a little more content to stay back and counter while Benavidez pressed the action. The first round was very close until Benevidez landed a beautiful takedown on a punch attempt by Torres and he finished the round on top. In the second, Torres looked to land his infamous jab a little more, but the relentless Benavidez continued to press forward. Again he lunged forward when an opening came on a power punch attempt by Torres and this time he took full advantage with some ground and pound and elbows. The second elbow opened a large gash on Torres’s forehead and it began bleeding heavily as both fighters got to their feet. After getting the fight to the ground again, Benavidez locked in a beautiful arm-in guillotine that forced the former champ to tap out at 2:57 of the second round. Benavidez was a +240 dog according to Vegas and he most certainly earned his title shot against the main event winner.
In the grand finale, Dominick Cruz took on champion Brian Bowles for the WEC bantamweight title. Cruz had made a name for himself because his speed and intense pace frustrated everyone in the bantamweight division and Bowles had finished all 8 of his career fights en route to becoming the champ. This was a battle of speed vs power and from the onset, Cruz looked the fresher and quicker fighter. Time and time again Cruz would lunge in and strike Bowles without being countered. A frustrated Bowles would occasionally rush forward throwing 3 or 4 power shots only to be countered hard on his last punch. Cruz was incredibly active with fakes and great head movement that more often than not had Bowles punching at air. The second round was more of the same but this time Cruz incorporated some nasty kicks to the leg that appeared to be wearing the champ out. Cruz also used his wrestling to earn a takedown before the round ended just to rub it in. As time expired in the 2nd, Bowles looked in bad shape. His nose was bleeding, his eyes was swollen, and his shoulders were slumped.
In an anti-climatic finish, viewers were informed that the fight was over after the commercial break ended due to a injury stoppage. Apparently Bowles had once again broken his hand like he had done in the Torres fight 7 months earlier and was in no condition to continue fighting, and thus Dominick Cruz was crowned the new Bantamweight champion. He will most likely take on Joseph Benavidez for the title sometime later this summer.