On Saturday, March 6, 2010, WEC heads to Columbus, Ohio with a stacked card headlined by a world bantamweight title fight between champion Brian Bowles and number one contender Dominick Cruz. What’s more, WEC’s first trip to Columbus features the return of former bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres, as well as the comeback of former UFC lightweight titleholder Jens Pulver.
“We are really excited to bring our event to Columbus on the same weekend as The Arnold Sports Festival,” WEC General Manager Reed Harris said. “Knowing that the weekend draws tens of thousands of the sporting world’s best athletes and enthusiasts to Columbus, WEC is proud to present the best of the best in the lighter weight classes in an event that is a ‘can’t miss’ for MMA fans.”
In one of the most stunning performances of 2009, Brian Bowles (8-0) claimed the WEC bantamweight title by scoring a first round knockout over then pound-for-pound king Miguel Angel Torres. Boasting five wins in the WEC – all of which have come by way of knockout or submission – the newly-crowned champion believes he has the potential to become one of the most dominant fighters ever. To prove his point, the Athens, Ga. resident looks to power past Dominick Cruz in his first title defense in March.
“I’m from West Virginia originally, which is right across the river from Ohio, so it will be real cool to defend my title there,” Bowles, who expects a large contingency of his nearby fans to attend the fight, said. “I’m ready to defend my title. Dominick is an elusive fighter and hard to hit, but I think I’ll connect with my punches. I’ve worked really hard to get this title and I want people to respect me. This fight is my chance to prove that I’m the best 135-pounder in the sport.”
Undefeated since dropping to bantamweight in 2007, San Diego’s Cruz (14-1) has wreaked havoc on the 135-pound division thanks to his unorthodox striking and powerful wrestling. The 24-year-old earned his shot at the title with an impressive decision victory over previously unbeaten Joseph Benavidez last August, and now seeks his first world championship. A training partner of UFC star Brandon Vera, Cruz is confident that he has all of the tools needed to best the heavy-handed Bowles.
“I’ve sacrificed a lot in my life to be where I’m at today in this sport,” Cruz said. “So winning the title would mean a lot of hard work coming together. You know how a lot of champions get emotional when they win that belt? I think the reason they are crying is because they see all of the sacrifices they put in to win that belt paying off right then and there. The same thing is going to happen to me, and the meaning of it will come together when I win that title. I’m going to beat Brian Bowles.”
In addition to Bowles-Cruz, two of MMA’s biggest names return to the cage on March 6 eager to begin their quests back to world titles. A winner of 17 out of his last 18 fights, former bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres will fight at Nationwide Arena, as will featherweight star Jens Pulver. WEC officials believe the title fight, plus bouts featuring Torres and Pulver, will make this one of the most intriguing cards in company history.
“Bowles versus Cruz has potential to be one of the best title fights of the year,” Harris said. “And I haven’t seen two fighters more hungry to win than Torres and Pulver. This card has the makings of something special. It’s going to be a real treat for fans in Ohio.”
Opponents for Torres and Pulver will be announced shortly. Remaining bouts for WEC: Bowles vs. Cruz will be announced at a later date.