Published Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009 | 6 p.m.
Updated Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009 | 9:15 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
A day after two of MMA's most dominant champs defend their pound-for-pound status, WEC king Miguel Torres, arguably the top American mixed martial artist, could not do the same. Undefeated challenger Brian Bowles shocked Torres and snapped his 17-fight win streak with a first-round TKO tonight at The Joint at the Hard Rock.
"I was confident I could win," said Bowles, who stunned the crowd with the stoppage a 3:57 in the first. "I convinced myself that I could beat him. And I just stayed calm. A lot of other people get caught up in the hype with him. I wasn't afraid of him. I put it to the side."
The upset knockout was similar to Mike Brown's defeat of then WEC top dog Urijah Faber in November 2008.
"This and the Urijah Faber knockout are the two biggest in company history," said WEC boss Reed Harris. "This happens. This is why MMA is so exciting. Anything can happen."
The West Virginia-born Bowles, who has never been taken the distance, admitted being in trouble before landing his fight-change right.
"He had me rattled there pretty bad," Bowles said. "I kind of recovered. I seen him coming in a little hard and I just swung a good hook, hit him right on the jaw."
A shot that changed history.
"It was a great shot and it changed his career," said the 28-year-old Torres, who hadn't lost since suffering a unanimous decision setback to Ryan Ackerman in 2003.
The WEC's $10,000 bonus money went to Bowles for "Knockout of the Night" Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez for "Fight of the Night," and Ranui Yahya for "Submission of the Night."
Main event (8:15 p.m.)
Miguel Torres vs. Brian Bowles
The challenger, Bowles (7-0) entered the Octagon first to Johnny Cash and sporting red shorts. Torres (36-1), who hasn't lost in 17 fights, walked into traditional Mexican Mariachi music and black and white bottoms.
The two feel each other out for the first minute. Bowles rocks him with a big shot, but Torres recovers. The two get into the clench 30 seconds later and Bowles again gain the advantage with a takedown. Torres responds with a pair of upkicks. The crowd rings out chants of Torres and the champ is comfortable staying on the canvas. They stand again and again feel each other out. Torres fires off a series of big punches, but Bowles answers the bell. He puts Torres down on the mat with a big right. Stuns the champ with another huge shot and fired off a pair of lefts that go undefended. Bowles has ended Torres' streak with a TKO victory.
Main card (6:00 p.m.)
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dominick Cruz
If indeed the bout was for top contender status at bantamweight, Cruz feels he's comfortable challenging top dog Torres.
"I look for his strengths and try to stay away from them. Then try to make him uncomfortable," Cruz said of how he'd approach a fight with Torres.
Whether the game plan would work on the Chicago-area native remains to be seen, but Cruz' strategy certainly was sufficient to defeat previously unbeaten Benavidez.
Cruz pushed the tempo all night, landing kicks in the first round and punches in the second. The shorter Benavidez had trouble with Cruz' reach all night. Cruz stayed out of trouble in the third to improve to 14-1.
"You tell me, you think I'm the No. 1 contender," Cruz yelled to the crowd.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Danny Castillo
For nearly two rounds it appeared Lamas would improve on his 6-0 record, then with one huge straight hand by Castillo with 45 seconds remaining in the second stanza ruined Lamas' perfect record.
Lamas came into exchange but Castillo countered with a big right, forcing Lamas to the canvas where Castillo quickly hopped on top to end the fight.
"Did you think I w as losing the fight?" Castillo told the crowd with a questioning laugh. "I train with the best team in the world (Urijah Faber's Alpha Male MMA), they program like a machine and I just kept throwing the same combos and that's what caught him."
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Jeff Curran
Mizugaki went the distance with Torres in his WEC debut in April, but found himself on the verge of last-minute upset as the Illinois native Curran locked in a tight triangle choke. But Mizugaki, fighting for the first time in Las Vegas was able to hold and did just enough to pull out a split decision victory (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
“The only thing that got me out of that triangle was my heart," Mizugaki said via a translator.
While his performance wasn't as impressive as his showing against Torres, is was gutty nonetheless and could earn the 12-3-2 fighter a quicker shot up the ladder for a rematch with Torres.
"Yes I think one step to another title shot with Torres," Mizugaki said. "But we’ll have to see what happens with Benavidez."
Leonard Garcia vs. Jameel Massouh
After having just fought for the WEC featherweight title against Mike Brown in March, needed every bit of luck to hang on for the split decision victory over Massouh. Garcia landed a big right that looked like it might end things in the first round, but Massouh came back firing. The Kenosha, Wis. native nearly flattened Garcia with a strong choke. In the tight third-round, the Texas native Garica edged Massouh slightly with a few more effective blows.
“After I hit him with that first right I thought the fight was over," Garcia said. "But I didn’t have anything in the second and third. I didn’t have any energy. I had an adrenaline dump.
"He was chocking the (expletive) out of me. I saw black a couple of times, but I heard the audience and that's who I"m fighting for."
Preliminary card (3:00 p.m.)
Fredson Paixao vs. Cole Province
Paixao busts Province nose open in the first with a solid elbow. The injury only worsened in the second as blood poured all over. Ref Herb Dean had to separate the exhausted fighters in the third on a couple of different occasions, but Province pushes the pace and scores the 29-28 victory by all three judges.
Marcus Hicks vs. Shane Roller
Roller, the former Oklahoma State wrestler, overcame a strong second-round guillotine by Hicks, and utilized punches and his takedowns to hang for the victory.
Ed Ratcliff vs. Phil Cardella
Ratcliff, the former high school football and basketball star, took care of Cardella via unanimous decision.
Rani Yahya vs. John Hosman
Yahya locked in a north-south choke to finish Hosman 2:08 into round one.
Rafael Dias vs. Diego Nunes
The Brazilian Nunes won his second straight in the WEC with a solid unanimous decision, taking all three rounds 30-27.
Javier Vazquez vs. L.C. Davis
A final flurry in the closing minutes of the third might have swayed the judges as Davis won via split decision 29-28, 30-27, 28-29.