WEC bantamweight champion Brian Bowles, his March 6 opponent Dominick Cruz and fellow 135-pounder Joseph Benavidez fielded questions from fans following the WEC 46 weigh-ins last Saturday in Sacramento, Calif. Former UFC heavyweight champion and WEC commentator Frank Mir hosted the session.
The quartet discussed a number of issues including the pros and cons of a UFC/WEC merger, the prospect of fighting a teammate and the continued evolution of the sport.
Mir also voiced his feelings on a potential rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and gave his opinions about Fedor Emelianenko and other top heavyweight talent.
Highlights from the Open Q & A:
• Bowles said he hates getting asked when he is going to fight in the UFC, but he does think a merger of the WEC and UFC would lead to better pay and more recognition for the lighter-weight fighters.
• Benavidez sees the positives and negatives of a potential merger. He does feel the money would go up but worries about over-saturation of the brand. He feels the WEC will eventually close the gap with their big brother.
• Cruz said he believes the WEC will follow a similar growth path as the UFC and sees the addition of pay-per-view by the company as the next logical step. That will also help with the pay discrepancy between the two companies.
• Mir says Fedor Emelianenko is too small to fight the bigger heavyweights. He said Brett Rogers, who is not a top-10 fighter, gave him fits because he was so much bigger than him. Mir described Fedor as “5-11, 235 with a belly” and believes he could drop to 205 pounds.
• Mir included Fedor in his top-ranked heavyweights, which also included Brock Lesnar, Nogueira, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin and himself.
• Mir said he is continuously trying to change his body composition. His strength coach Mark Philippi feels he should stay around 280 pounds while dropping his body fat to nine to ten-percent. He did concede he woke up at 284 pounds this morning.
• Benavidez said he doesn’t see himself fighting Urijah Faber should he drop to 135 pounds unless they were going to make life-changing money. They are close friends and he isn’t sure he could unload on him even if he was given the chance.
• Benavidez also said he is mildly interested in competing at 125 pounds should the WEC introduce a flyweight division. It sounded like he might only do it if he was going to fight for the title; he said he likes to eat too much.
• Mir sees a rematch with Nogueira going the same way should they meet again. He has a ton of respect for the Brazilian legend but Mir feels he is the best fighter in his weight class. He stated that if you don’t believe in yourself, you shouldn’t be fighting.
• Dominick Cruz said he learned the most about fighting after his loss to Urijah Faber.
• Cruz and Bowles said that they think standup fights are much more exciting. Bowles notes that the promotions don’t want to see someone “hump” their opponent for 15 minutes. Cruz anticipates top-level fighters becoming more and more reliant on their striking as they continue to develop better takedown defense.
• Mir said strikers find it easier to transition to grappling than grapplers do to striking. He feels that the sparring is a little more painful and a bit scarier while rolling is something strikers see as a fun alternative.