Las Vegas, NV– Tonight at the Pearl at the Palms, the WEC put on another action-packed night of fights with WEC 50: Benavidez vs. Cruz. In the nights main-event, WEC Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz put his belt on the line against an opponent he knew quite well, in a previous opponent, team Alpha Male’s, Joseph Benavidez.
However before the main-event could begin, the crowd was treated to a solid under-card that began with a very exciting fight between 47-fight veteran, Bart Palaszewski taking on Zack Micklewright.
After a very exciting first-round that saw both fighters exchange wildly, the second-round was the inevitable crescendo. As with so many fights that see both fighters swing with reckless abandon, this fight ended with a brutal KO, as “Bartimus” caught Zack with a solid body kick that help pave the way for a huge, lunging right-hook that dropped Micklewright at :31 of round 2.
For Bart, this was another huge win in a career that has seen it’s fair share of up’s and down’s. And for Zack, this was his first loss, but with that loss comes a wealth of experience, knowing he could stand and trade with one of the true veterans of MMA.
The second fight of the night saw an epic slugfest featuring Scott Jorgensen as he took on Brad “One Punch” Pickett. Although Scott won the fight 30-27 on all scorecards to receive a unanimous decision victory, the two fighters really showed what heart and determination is all about, as both fighters swung wildly in all three rounds.
And not to have the standup game outdone, both fighters showed amazing ground work and transitions, as on more than one occasion, a submission loss for both fighters was possible. Now, with this win, the word is that Scott will get the next shot at the 135 lbs. title.
And no worries on Pickett’s end, as WEC President, Reed Harris affirmed after the show by saying that the WEC was made for guys like Pickett and to, “…give it all they’ve got, no matter what.” So rest assured “one punch” fanatics, Pickett will return.
Next up was Team Alpha Male’s, Chad Mendes taking on southern California’s, Cub Swanson. Although Swanson looked comfortable and confident in the fight, Mendes’ All-American wrestling credentials were far too much for the young scrapper to overcome–as Mendes dominated en route to a unanimous decision victory.
The fact is, Swanson entered the cage a little too comfortable. Because what he brought to the fight in head movement and footwork, he gave up in aggressiveness. Each time Swanson was looking to do damage, Mendes took him to the ground and controlled the fight.
There is a reason Chad Mendes stayed undefeated, and that was his composure, game planning, and wrestling. It may not have been the most exciting fight, but it got the job done.
Speaking of getting the job done, the next fight was the epitome of that phrase, as Anthony Pettis submitted All-American wrestling standout, Shane Roller with just ten seconds left in the final round.
Both fighters knew they were in a close fight and up until the final round Roller was doing a great job at controlling the action with take-down’s and pressure. Although some judges may have had the fight even at the start of the third round, “Showtime” Pettis didn’t let them decide the outcome.
Instead Pettis secured a beautiful triangle choke after Roller lunged in with a leaping hook from a postured position, essentially gift wrapping the submission for the up-and-coming Pettis. For the 11-1, Pettis, this fight was a benchmark for the young up-and-comer, and for Roller this is another disappointing loss to a career that started off with a ton of promise.
As far as promise goes, the night’s main-event was the definition of the future of MMA. On one side of the cage you had up-and-coming, team Alpha Male stud, Joseph Benavidez, fresh off his submission of former Bantamweight Champion, Miguel Torres, taking on the newly crowned champion, Dominick Cruz.
For Cruz this was his first title fight after defeating then champion, Brian Bowles, and he did not disappoint. In a five-round war, Cruz arguably controlled the best Joseph Benavidez the MMA world has ever seen. In fact, Joseph hung with Cruz in the stand-up department, as well as matching him in explosiveness and speed, but the one area Benavidez couldn’t catch up in, was wrestling.
Much like in their first fight, Cruz controlled the wrestling and finished four out of five rounds with a take-down. And that was his key to victory, he controlled the fight with his wrestling, and he fought a very cerebral and thought out fight.
Even in some of the wild scrambles and flurries that ensued throughout the fight, neither fighter seemed flustered. In fact, both fighters could have won the fight at any moment, and the scorecards reflected such with a split-decision that saw the scores of 48-47 Benavidez, 48-47 Cruz, and finally 49-46 Cruz. And in typical bantamweight fashion, both fighters seemed as if they could go another five rounds without a problem.
Next up for Dominick Cruz is most likely fellow victor, Scott Jorgensen. And for Benavidez? According to Reed Harris at the post-fight press conference, Benavidez need not worry, “I think this was the best Joseph Benavidez we have ever seen in the WEC.”
I’m sure Joseph wouldn’t go as far as to say this was a ‘win’, but he seemed in good spirits after the fight and as many fans and experts alike can agree, the sky truly is the limit for the young Benavidez–as long as Dominick Cruz isn’t waiting at the top.