And once again a WEC champion has fallen as Brian Bowles was unable to answer the bell for the third round during his first-ever title defense in tonight's main event against Dominick Cruz.
Bowles suffered a broken hand early in the fight and the injury was too severe to go on after the first ten minutes. Don't let that fool you though, he was well on his way to being beaten soundly by a faster, more aggressive and smarter challenger before the doctor ever made his decision.
Cruz beat the former champ to the punch in just about every exchange, hammering Bowles with combinations and devastating leg kicks. He was faster, he had a better gamplan, and he basically had complete control of the fight the entire way through, frustrating Bowles with his speed and unorthodox striking.
He's going to be a hard guy to figure out for a lot of 135 pounders in the WEC and there are some great match-ups out there for him, including a rematch with the winner of tonight's co-main event.
That man, up and comer Joseph Benavidez, had little trouble taking out the man who last year at this time was widely believed to be the best bantamweight fighter on the planet, Miguel Torres.
Torres, who was coming off the first loss of his WEC career, looked tentative and hesitant to engage with the lightning quick fireball from Team Apha Male. Benavidez took advantage of that and was able to land sporadic power punches and timely takedowns throughout the first round and a half of the fight.
It was midway through the second when the kid finally took over. After a smooth takedown, Benavidez opened up a gnarly gash on Torres' face. Within seconds, the former champ was absolutely covered in blood and before he could even wipe the mess out of his eyes, the advantageous Benavidez had locked in a fight ending guillotine choke.
So now, after thirty seven professional starts, Torres has been knocked out and submitted for the first time in his life in number thirty eight and thirty nine. This is uncharted waters for him, to say the least.
It's going to be interesting to see how he bounces back. His legacy likely depends on it.
For Benavidez though, this was without a doubt the biggest win of his career, and with the only loss on his resume being a close decision to Cruz last summer, he'll likely be standing across the cage from the newly crowned champion for a rematch a lot sooner rather than later.
Former UFC lightweight champion and MMA pioneer, Jens "Little Evil" Pulver, climbed back into the cage for the first time in nine months tonight, looking to erase the memory of four straight losses in the WEC. Standing in his way was ground technician Javier Vazquez, who had his own chip on his shoulder stemming from back to back split decision losses.
Vazquez wanted no part of the scorecards this time, however, and he wasted no time getting to work on the ninth submission of his career. Once the action hit the mat, Vazquez took the fight over in dominating fashion. His transitions looked effortless and a textbook armbar from a full mount position was the fight ender.
"Little Evil" gave a heartfelt speech afterward, thanking Dana White, his family and his many fans for helping him to achieve a story book career. He refused to admit that this was his last fight, but five straight losses will probably end up making that decision for him.
L.C. Davis was able to pull out a hard fought majority decision by the skin of his teeth tonight, handing Deividas Taurosevicius his first loss since joining the WEC last year. Most of the fight was contested from the clinch, and although it wasn't the prettiest fight, Daivs was apparently effective enough from there with his dirty boxing to pull out the win in the eyes of the judges.
In the opening fight of the Versus telecast, former International Fight League standout Bart Palaszewski took home his first win inside the WEC cage, overcoming an early onslaught from a surging Karen Darabedyan to earn a submission finish late in the first round via armbar.
The loss brings a seven fight winning streak to an end for Darabedyan.
In under card action, former featherweight number one contender Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia had another disappointing showing, fighting to a draw with TUF 8 alum, George Roop.
That's a wrap from the "Buckeye State."
To check out the complete results and our coverage of the event click here.
Next up for the WEC is a return trip to the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California on Saturday, April 24 for the promotion's first ever pay-per-view event. WEC 48 is set to feature both featherweight champion Jose Aldo and lightweight champion Ben Henderson defending their titles for the first time against Urijah Faber and "Cowboy" Cerrone, respectively.
Former 145 pound champion Mike Thomas Brown will also be on hand to battle UFC veteran Manny Gamburyan. Damacio Page, Antonio Banuelos, Anthony Njokuani, Shane Roller and others are also expected to compete.
Keep it locked to MMAmania.com for more on that developing fight card and all your WEC news and notes. For "Bowles vs. Cruz" live results and play-by-play click here.