by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
In a battle to determine the next contender to the WEC bantamweight title, it was Dominick Cruz that knocked Joseph Benavidez from his undefeated perch on Sunday night in Las Vegas.
Going into the fight, most had Benavidez – who trains with former featherweight champion Urijah Faber, the only man to have defeated Cruz – pegged to come out on the winning end. His loss wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Benavidez visibly gave up a fair amount of reach to Cruz. He looked to overcome the deficit by charging in with a flurry of punches, trying to get inside to nullify the Cruz’s long limbs.
The only problem with that approach is that Cruz was too quick, several times slipping outside of Benavidez’s attack. When he wasn’t slipping, Cruz was stopping Benavidez in his tracks with a sharp jab followed by a hard right, stunning him on several occasions.
One of the more surprising advantages that Cruz had on the night was in the takedown category. Benavidez’s strong suite is wrestling. It was Cruz, however, that was not only able to stuff Benavidez’s attempts, but also score numerous takedowns throughout the fight. He was unable to capitalize on the takedowns, but just the fact that he was able to complete them had to weigh heavily in the judges’ decision.
He ended up winning a unanimous nod.
At the end of the night, Benavidez saw his title shot fade away and his record drop to 10-1. Cruz, who counts his loss to Faber as the lone blemish on his record, moved his unbeaten streak to five straight and slotted himself into a likely shot at the WEC bantamweight championship.
WEC 42 could very well turn out to be a defining moment for Dominick Cruz.