Brian Bowles used a counter right hook late in the first round to defeat Miguel Angel Torres by TKO and win the WEC Bantamweight title in the main event of WEC 42. Though Bowles entered as a highly respected, undefeated challenger his stoppage victory over Torres”a fighter who ranked high atop most pound for pound best lists”has to be considered one of the major MMA upsets of the year.
One day after a UFC 101 card that was lackluster at best and disappointing at worst, MMA fans were hoping that the WEC would deliver an exciting event as they almost inevitably do. They werent disappointed, and there really wasnt a bad fight on the card which featured several brutal knockouts along with tightly contested decisions. The event will be remembered for the main event and the shocking upset of Torres, whom commentator Frank Mir had been championing as the pound for pound best fighter in the sport of late. Torres certainly had the credentials”a fighter equally as dangerous on his feet as on the ground, hed compiled a 37-1 record entering the fight against Bowles. Since a 2003 decision loss to Ryan Ackerman, Torres had run off 17 straight victories including his most recent triumph by decision over a tough challenge from Japanese striking machine Takeya Mizugaki.
Bowles entered the cage accompanied by the music of Johnny Cash. This prompted WEC commentator Todd Harris to quip “It takes a special man to walk in to Johnny Cash”. He wasnt kidding, and Bowles quickly announced his presence with authority rocking Torres with an overhand right and scoring a takedown within the first minute. After a groundfighting sequence, the two fighters exchanged punches again and initially it looked like Torres was getting the best of things as he landed a multiple punch combination that sent Bowles backing up. Almost out of nowhere, however, Bowles countered with a perfectly placed short right hook that sent the champion to the canvas. He followed up with some nasty ground and pound punches including a big left hand that knocked his opponent unconscious and forced the referee to wave off the fight.
In his postfight interview, Bowles was clearly pleased but not exactly surprised by the result. His comments indicated that hed been very well prepared for Torres considerable skills and though he conceded that hed been stung by the punching barrage waited for the opening to throw the right hook that ended the fight.
A rematch between Bowles and Torres is almost inevitable, but theres plenty of talent in the WEC bantamweight division. The semifinal bout on the card pitted two of these competitors in what may have been an elimination match for #1 contender status as Dominick Cruz handed feisty Joseph Benavidez his first professional loss via unanimous decision. The unorthodox and insanely athletic Benevidez had a good deal of trouble with the superior height and reach of Cruz.
Further muddling the picture in the bantamweight division was an earlier fight on the card, in which Takeya Mizugaki outlasted Jeff Curran to win a split decision victory. Mizugaki scored takedowns in all three rounds and did enough from the top position while fending off submission attempts to earn the verdict and make his claim for #1 contender status.