The WEC brought its stable of fighters to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday to perform in the promotion’s first event held in the Buckeye state. Perform they did, as only one out of the five main card fights went to decision (LC Davis scored a majority decision over Deividas Taurosevicius).
The organization has become increasingly dependable when it comes to putting together a solid card, with most fighters willing to finish fights. In all, WEC 47 failed to disappoint the people watching from home, and the Nationwide Arena patrons who lined the venue gave cheers of appreciation.
Surprisingly, big names were big letdowns. Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver’s emotional farewell was spurred on by his fifth consecutive loss. Miguel Angel Torres suffered his second consecutive loss, third career loss, in what will surely have people wondering how he went 37-1 before his last two fights.
Bantamweight champion Brian Bowles, the man who uncrowned Torres, ended his night after the second round due to a hand injury, making opponent Dominic Cruz the new 135lb king.
Overall, it was an action packed night of fights, creating momentum for WEC 48: Faber vs. Aldo—the pay-per-view premiere for the UFC’s underling organization.
Finally, the time has come for proper compensation for these athletes, who pour it on during each and every show. Fights get finished with extraordinary effort, all for peanuts. One can only hope, with the WEC making its transition to pay-per-view, there will be plenty of pie leftover after a Faber paycheck for the rest of the roster to eat well on.
Now onto the interesting bits, my little starving baby birds….
Winning submission of the night is a tiresome task when the rest of the cast are delivering just as impressive armbars and/or chokes in every other fight on the card. So, Palaszewski fell short of the honor, but to be fair he did put Karen Darabedyan into a finely executed armbar off his back while taking face-fulls of ground-and-pound punishment.
The 26-year-old submitted the young Darabedyan, who was coming off a split decision victory over “Razor” Rob McCullough, towards the end of first round after getting off to a slow start—a solid victory for a very experienced fighter sporting over 45 professional fights.
Verdict: Let’s give Palaszewski comeback of the night, or most international fight of the night. Maybe not. Let’s give him someone like Leonard Garcia or George Loop, both fighters fought to a draw on the same card.
Despite being on the occasionally unreported undercard, Jorgensen made quick work of Chad George in such a dominant and impressive fashion that he deserves a nod.
There was only a 30 second interval between the beginning of the bout and the closing bell. Before I could decide whose dyed hair-do I liked better, Jorgensen had already stuffed George’s shot and locked in a solid choke from the sprawl position.
This victory marks the Idaho native’s third win in a row, and also his serious stature in the division. A contention fight should be on the horizon.
Verdict: Let’s give him Joseph Benavidez or, more realistically, Brian Bowles. Benavidez might already be looking at a shot for the title, and Bowles will need a buffer bout before his next crack at the strap.
As a respected statesman of the sport, and a likeable character, someone would have to go out of their way to dislike Pulver. He is a hard fighter to not root for whenever he steps in the cage.
Unfortunately for his record, the sport has not reciprocated that love. The former UFC lightweight champion carried a four fight losing streak on his shoulders going into his bout with Javier Vazquez.
However, “Lil Evil” appeared to be in good spirits leading up to the fight, looking to make one more solid run for redemption’s sake. Not everything always goes as planned. It was an attempt nipped in the bud thanks to Vazquez’s superior ground skills.
Pulver’s leg kicks were slow enough for Javier to catch—an easy opportunity for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert to get the fight on the ground. Pulver’s fortunes did not improve from the canvas; Vazquez smothered him with quick transitions and peppering shots.
Once the opportunity for an armbar presented itself, the Cuban-American latched on and cranked back until Jens was forced to tap.
After the official announcement was made, déjà-vu set in for all the viewers—a heartbroken Pulver apologizing to his fans while hinting towards retirement.
The “vintage” fighter has certainly been passed-by a sport that constantly forces its athlete into a state of evolution. Pulver’s predictable left and lack of ground defense off his back, or in general really, has left the fan-favorite accepting his irrelevant status in mixed martial arts after losing five consecutive bouts.
At this point, it is nearly impossible to make any room for a comeback at the age of 34.
Verdict: Let’s give him our respect and wish Pulver success in whatever direction he chooses. Retirement is the right answer in this situation, though. Luckily, there are plenty of positions within the world of MMA for post-fighting Jens—color commentary or head coach, etc.
Out comes the angry mod of flabbergasted journalists and fans with pitchforks and pens in hand, ready to crucify the former bantamweight champ for losing his second consecutive fight.
Pop open the umbrellas because the downpour of negative headlines have arrived: Is Torres Done? Is Torres the Next Liddell or Hughes? Who Has Torres Really Fought?
It’s a bit too early to write off a 29-year-old ex-champ, who has 37 career wins and only three losses, and defended his strap three times. Not to let Torres off easy, the fight with Benavidez was far from his best showing, but to say the loss was the beginning of a slippery slope down into obscurity seems a little premature.
A fighter carrying a tall slender frame, with a 10 inch reach advantage against a powerful stocky fight, such as Benavidez, has a particular game plan to maintain—create distance with the jab to avoid the clinch or takedown.
Torres did neither of these things effectively; he was simply overpowered when in the clinch, which made him vulnerable to the takedown.
To make matters worse, Torres failed to spark any offense off his back when Benavidez was posturing up and landing vicious blows from the top position. One elbow strike split open Torres’ forehead to the bone, similar to when Moses parted the Red Sea.
Once bloodied and battered, Torres gave up his back to Benavidez and got choked out for his troubles.
A convincing victory over Torres should put Benavidez next in line for the 135lb belt.
Verdict: Whether or not all 37 wins were against top flight competition, Torres still possesses the skill set to remain a top five bantamweight in the WEC. Let’s give him a rematch with the man who dethroned him to begin with—Brian Bowles.
Dominic Cruz/Brian Bowles
Have all the passengers on the newly (but poorly) constructed Cruz train double checked to see if their tickets were refundable? Let’s get straight to the point: had Bowles not broken his right hand on the very first punch thrown in the fight, he would currently be a defending champion.
Let that sink in—unless you’re wearing a helmet, in which case you shouldn’t be reading this article to begin with…
Stylistically, this was a perfect match up for the former champ. Cruz is an elusive target—not the Machida type, but more the Rashad Evans type—due to his fast footwork, and Bowles throws heavy punches packed with semtex.
While Cruz’s footwork makes it difficult for Bowles to plant that explosive right hand of his (the one he broke), it betters his chances of knocking him out once he does get the opportunity to connect.
Even though Cruz was landing his share of counter punches, he exposed one of the weaknesses of “floatin’ like a butterfly” in the cage—it disrupts his balance. A fighter is more likely to weather a storm or absorb a hard counter if both of his feet are planted at the time the strike lands.
Like Evans, Cruz likes to do his best impression of Muhammad Ali doing the double-dutch, bobbing and weaving around his opponents. They are classic examples of fighters who will struggle with jimmy-leg syndrome more often than not.
Bowles’ tight and aggressive style is ideal for clipping those types of fighters. With his granite chin, he was bound to land the right hand at some point in five rounds.
Not to take anything away from Cruz, who is a formidable opponent, but had Bowles not broke his primary tool for victory in this fight he would still be wearing the belt today.
Verdict: It will be interesting to see how long the 24-year-old Cruz can stay perched on top of the bantamweight mountain. Will he reign long enough to offer Bowles a rematch?
The former champ even mentioned in the post-fight interview that he will more than likely need a buffer bout before getting another shot at the belt. Let’s give Bowles a quasi-contender bout with Jorgensen, or a fan-pleasing rematch with Torres.
Let’s give Cruz the new No. 1 bantamweight contender, Joseph Benavidez.