WEC 50: "Cruz vs. Benavidez" is in the books from the "The Pearl" at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, and once again the UFC's sister promotion came through with another fantastic night of fights.
In the featured bout of the night, bantamweight world champion Dominick Cruz kept his title reign in tact by out-pointing top contender Joseph Benavidez with a razor close split decision in a rematch from a great co-main event fight at WEC 42 last summer.
Takedowns were the difference for Cruz in the first fight, and they were huge once again tonight as the champion capped off each round by putting Benavidez on his back and flurrying with punches.
The challenger did a good job of counter punching on his feet, but he was denied every time he shot in for a takedown of his own. Cruz was too strong and his wrestling was too good throughout the fight. Had Benavidez been able to avoid being put on his back in the final seconds of each round, he may have done enough damage on his feet to win the fight.
That wasn't the case, though, and Dominick Cruz was able to beat him with virtually the same exact gameplan that he used twelve months ago.
In Benavidez's defense, he gave up a lot of size in the fight and appears to be more suited for the flyweight division. If the promotion ever does decide to finally unveil the 125 pound class, Benavidez will surely be right at the top of the list of contenders for that title, so perhaps his championship hopes aren't completely lost with this fight.
For Cruz, the next challenger for his belt was also decided on the card when Scott Jorgensen came out on top in a hard fought three round decision over Brad Pickett.
The two lightweights put on a fantastic show for the Las Vegas fans with a back and forth fifteen minute war in their main card encounter. If not for the main event, these two may have taken home fight of the night bonus money. They still may anyway. It was that good of a fight.
There were plenty of dramatic exchanges on the feet, with Pickett winning the majority of them. But in the end takedowns were the difference in this fight as well, as Jorgensen was able to score on sporadic single and double leg shots throughout the fight.
The win marks five in a row for "Young Guns" and seven overall inside the WEC cage. Get ready for WEC ??: "Cruz vs. Jorgensen."
The co-headliner provided an excellent wrestler vs. striker match up between Anthony Pettis and Shane Roller. And with future title fight implications also potentially on the line in this fight, both men left everything they had in the cage.
It was clear right from the start that Roller's intentions were to negate Pettis' dangerous striking game by putting him on his back early and often. The only problem with that strategy was that Pettis wasn't all that willing to play along.
It took a few minutes for him to get comfortable in the fight, but once Pettis was able to fend off a couple of takedowns, he started getting into a groove and letting his strikes go. That was the beginning of the end for Roller, who was unable to execute his gameplan and wound up being forced to trade strikes way more than he wanted to coming into the fight.
The most surprising thing, however, was Pettis' ability to score takedowns of his own during the fight. And even more so, his ability to hold dominant positions and fight his way out of others on the ground against the world class wrestler.
He appeared to be headed towards a one-sided decision, but Roller's late aggression ended up providing an opportunity for Pettis to put him away with a triangle choke with less than 10 seconds remaining in the fight.
It was a super-impressive win over perhaps his toughest opponent to date, and afterward Pettis made it clear to the reigning division kingpin Ben Henderson, who was sitting cageside, that he wants his shot.
Hendeson responded by saying, "I see you, Anthony. I see you."
Undefeated Team Alpha Male product Chad Mendes pushed his win total to eight tonight with a three round blanketing win over a very tough Cub Swanson in their featherweight bout.
Swanson couldn't stop the decorated collegiate wrestler from Cal Polytech from taking him down at will, and when it came time for the judges to turn in their score totals, that was surely the deciding factor.
Bart Palaszewski showed the value of experience in mixed martial arts tonight with a dominating win over young, up and coming prospect Zach Micklewright.
Palaszewski admitted afterward that he trained a lot of wrestling for this fight and came in with a gameplan that involved taking Micklewright out of his comfort zone on his feet and onto the mat. However, that gameplan went out the window when the former IFL standout started landing at will with his counter striking.
After eating several hard shots Micklewright was finally put away with a series of punches early on in the second round.
That's a wrap from "Sin City." To check out the complete results and our blow-by-blow coverage of "Cruz vs. Benavidez" click here.
WEC 51: "Aldo vs. Gamburyan" is up next for the promotion on September 30 from the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado where featherweight kingpin Jose "Junior" Aldo will defend his title against UFC and TUF veteran Manny "The Pitbull" Gamburyan.
Former WEC champions Miguel "Angel" Torres, Jaime "C-4" Varner and Mike Thomas Brown are also slated for the blockbuster card, as well as Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia, and others.
Keep it locked to MMAmania.com for all your WEC news and notes.