by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Some promotions have the problem of not having enough contenders to face a champion at the top of a weight class.
Not so for the WEC, they actually have too much of a good thing.
Top bantamweight contenders Scott Jorgensen and Joseph Benavidez both have a strong case for a shot at champion Dominic Cruz when he returns from injury to defend his belt.
At the recent WEC pay-per-view, Jorgensen did his part to solidify a place as top dog in the divisional race by defeating Antonio Banuelos with a dominant performance in a rematch from a fight the two had in 2009. That fight ended in a controversial judges’ score, but not so this time.
Jorgensen has now won four fights in a row including wins over Banuelos and former top bantamweight contender Takeya Mizugaki. The Idaho fighter says he’s done his part, now it’s up to the WEC to give him the shot at the gold.
“I think this was the fight that made them realize that I’m ready for a title shot. I hope they see it, they being the WEC (and) Sean Shelby. I want the title fight. I think I’ve earned it,” said Jorgensen on MMAWeekly Radio.
“I’ve put together a solid last six fights. Even with my loss to (Antonio) Banuelos, I showed that I’m a better fighter. I never should have lost that first one. I beat Mizugaki, I avenged the only loss of the last guy that beat me, and everybody else that wasn’t ranked I finished in the first round. I’ve shown that I deserve this title shot.”
Now begins the argument for Benavidez, who in his last fight dismantled former WEC champion Miguel Torres, submitting him in the second round of their fight in March. Benavidez holds an impressive 12-1 record, and also recently defeated submission wizard Rani Yahya.
In his last bout before winning the title, Cruz defeated Benavidez by unanimous decision. That loss is the single blemish on Benavidez’s professional record. Because of the last two wins over top ten level fighters, including the performance over Torres, Benavidez says it’s his time to shine.
“I think it should definitely put me in to get a title shot,” Benavidez told MMAWeekly Radio after his win over Miguel Torres. “My and Dominic’s fight was amazing. It was only three rounds, and I think I had an off night. I’d love to prove that I am the best out there.”
Benavidez and Jorgensen also have ties that run deeper than just being in the same division vying for a title shot. The two bantamweights have trained together in the past and are friends, as well as sharing the same managers in Mike Roberts and Jeff Meyer from MMA Inc.
Despite those alliances, both fighters concede that if it all comes down to it, they would fight each other, ending any speculation there. So now it’s a matter of who gets the first crack at Cruz.
“We’re still friends, but we understand the business and the way things work in this business,” Jorgensen said about his friendship with Benavidez. “I think I’ll be getting that shot come August/September, whenever Dominic is ready.”
For Benavidez’s part, he’s not backing down from wanting a shot at the belt either, and wants to settle for nothing less.
“I’d be disappointed if I got anything else,” he said.
Now it’s up to WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby and the brass at Zuffa to sit down and make that call. Let the debate begin.