Vacancies Fill for WEC 42

By Brian Knapp Jun 30, 2009
Two of the sport’s fast-rising bantamweights will put their skills on display when Joseph Benavidez meets Dominick Cruz in the co-main event at WEC 42 “Torres vs. Bowles” on Aug. 9 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The promotion announced the match as part of a 10-fight card on Monday.

A protégé of former WEC featherweight king Urijah Faber, the unbeaten Benavidez (10-0) last appeared at WEC 40 in April, when he cruised to a unanimous decision against Jeff Curran. The soon-to-be 25-year-old, perhaps one win away from a crack at the WEC bantamweight title, has delivered eight of his 10 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission, though each of his appearances in the WEC has gone the distance.

Cruz (13-1) -- whose only career defeat, ironically, came against Faber -- will carry a four-fight winning streak into the bout. The former Total Combat featherweight and lightweight champion has not appeared in the cage since he earned a unanimous decision against Ivan Lopez in April.

Meanwhile, Takeya Mizugaki, fresh off his stirring five-round battle with bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, will clash with Curran in a pivotal 135-pound matchup.

Mizugaki (11-3-2), a Cage Force bantamweight tournament winner in 2008, has posted five wins in six fights. The 25-year-old has only been finished once as a professional -- a TKO loss to Kenji Osawa -- and fought divisional stalwart Masakatsu Ueda to a draw at a Shooto show in 2007. A former Shooto Rookie of the Year, Mizugaki prefers to stand and trade, as more than a third of his victories have come by knockout or TKO.

The 31-year-old Curran, one of the sport’s most respected jiu-jitsu players, finds himself in desperate need of a win. In the throes of a three-fight losing streak for the first time in his career, he dropped a unanimous decision to Benavidez at WEC 40 in April. A BJJ black belt under Pedro Sauer, Curran (29-11-1) has dipped his toes in MMA waters all across the globe, from Pride Fighting Championships and the UFC to King of the Cage and the International Fight League. He holds notable victories against world-ranked featherweights Wagnney Fabiano and Rafael Assuncao but has not won a match since he outpointed Stephen Ledbetter in August 2007.

Other WEC 42 matchups will pair former featherweight title challenger Leonard Garcia with Jameel Massouh, one-time lightweight championship contender Marcus Hicks with Shane Roller and four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Fredson Paixao with Cole Province.

A long-awaited bantamweight championship match between Torres and top contender Brian Bowles will headline WEC 42. The two were originally scheduled to meet in April, but the undefeated Bowles (7-0) was forced to withdraw from the match with a back injury. Torres (37-1) has rattled off 17 consecutive victories in a streak that stretches back to November 2003.

WEC 42: Torres vs. Bowles
Sunday, Aug. 9
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas

WEC Bantamweight Championship
Miguel Torres vs. Brian Bowles

Joseph Benavidez vs. Dominick Cruz
Ricardo Lamas vs. Danny Castillo
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Jeff Curran
Leonard Garcia vs. Jameel Massouh
Fredson Paixao vs. Cole Province
Marcus Hicks vs. Shane Roller
Ed Ratcliff vs. Phil Cardella
Rani Yahya vs. Kenji Osawa
Rafael Dias vs. Diego Nunes
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