When bantamweight Joseph Benavidez first locked horns with current WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz last summer, the two engaged in three of the most action-packed rounds in WEC history. Unfortunately for Benavidez, he came up just short on that sizzling August night and was handed the first and only loss of his professional career. However, Benavidez will get another crack at Cruz as WEC announced earlier this week that he will challenge Cruz for the bantamweight title at WEC 50: Cruz vs. Benavidez this summer.
The event will be held in conjunction with the MAGIC trade show, the men’s fashion industry’s premier convention – held at The Las Vegas Convention Center and The Mandalay Bay Convention Center, August 17-19.
“When Dominick and Joseph fought last August, it was one of those fights that kept you on the edge of your seat,” WEC General Manager Reed Harris said. “Now we get to see the Cruz-Benavidez rematch with even more at stake – the world title. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll get to see Urijah Faber take on Takeya Mizugaki in a fight that has the potential to be one of the best of the summer.”
Arguably the most dynamic striker in the 135-pound division, San Diego, Dominick Cruz (15-1) prides himself on his unorthodox standup and aggressive wrestling. After defeating Benavidez last August, the 25-year-old scored a second-round TKO stoppage over previously-unbeaten Brian Bowles in March to secure the bantamweight championship. Undefeated at 5-0 since dropping to 135 pounds three years ago, Cruz expects to put on a similar performance as he did when he clashed with Benavidez last year.
“Let’s keep it real: styles make fights and both of the last two guys he has fought stood right in front of him,” Cruz said. “You can’t stand in front of him, you have to use footwork and move. Joseph can’t match my footwork and I have a reach advantage on him. That doesn’t guarantee me the win, but it allows me to dictate a lot of the fight. I fought him once and not a lot of his game has changed. He has definitely improved, as I have, every single day. But there are a lot of tricks up my sleeve that I will use against Joseph for this fight.”
Training out of the same camp as WEC stars Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez is coming off two of the most impressive feats in recent memory. Last December, the 25-year-old scored a phenomenal knockout victory over jiu-jitsu ace Rani Yahya. Then, just three months later, Benavidez became the first man to ever submit former bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres. Now, with Cruz in his crosshairs, Benavidez plans to avenge his only loss and capture the world title.
“Those are two of the main goals in my career, to win the title and avenge that loss on the same night,” Benavidez said. “He’s a tough fighter, but I’m a different fighter since I fought him last. I think he had a great night and I had a bad night, and it was still really close, so if I fight like I’m capable of I have no doubt I will come out with the victory.”
WEC 50: Cruz vs. Benavidez takes place on August 18, 2010 from The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event will be televised nationally live on VERSUS beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.