by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
When Dominick Cruz defeated Brian Bowles to win the WEC
bantamweight title on Saturday night, the new champion didn’t have long to
celebrate before the questions started coming about who he might fight for his
first title defense.
The logical first choice seems to be Joseph Benavidez, who
walked into the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, as an underdog and walked
out as only the second fighter in six years to hand Miguel Torres a loss. Training alongside Urijah Faber and
Team Alpha Male, Benavidez has proven he belongs with the elite fighters at 135
pounds. His only loss comes by the way of Cruz.
That’s where the problem starts. Cruz and Benavidez battled in August 2009 with Cruz getting
the unanimous decision nod. The
win over Benavidez is what earned Cruz the title shot against Brian Bowles,
which he won by TKO in a dominating performance.
For Benavidez, he says he’s happy to get one more shot at
Cruz, and the championship belt is like icing on the cake.
"That’s my only loss. I feel like I had an off night,
an off 15 minutes. He had a great 15 minutes that night. Of course I’d like to
avenge my only loss and on top of that go for the world title," Benavidez
told MMAWeekly.com on Saturday night after his win.
Dominick Cruz didn’t seem to have a problem giving Benavidez
the shot either, but stressed that he would face whatever contender the WEC
decided to give him.
"I fought him already, and I’m down to fight him
again," Cruz said about Benavidez.
"I’ll fight whoever the WEC puts in front of me. If you’re a real
champion, I don’t pick my fights."
Benavidez seems like the frontrunner to be the new top
contender, but the recent loss to Cruz may prevent him from getting the next
shot. So who else might be a viable
number one contender in the division?
Scott Jorgensen could prove to be a candidate to fill that
slot. The Idaho native put on a
slam-dunk performance over Chad George on Saturday night, stopping his
opponent’s initial takedown attempt, and then applying a vicious guillotine
choke that finished the fight in under a minute.
A winner of three fights in a row, including a victory over
former top contender Takeya Mizugaki, Jorgensen believes he should be in
consideration for the first shot at Dominick Cruz.
"Yeah, I’m ready for a title shot. I was ready for a title shot after the
last fight, but I’ll keep fighting, I’ll keep winning," said
Jorgensen. "It’s kind of a
game of who we can hype up and who we can build, and that’s fine with me. I just want to fight, and I just want
to keep doing what I’m doing."
Sources inside the WEC have also indicated that the upcoming
fight between Damacio Page and Antonio Banuelos could have title implications
as well. The fight also just got
the bump up to the main card of the upcoming pay-per-view.
Page has been out of action for a few months with a shoulder
injury, but before that he won two fights in a row, and also holds a decision
win over Jorgensen. As for
Banuelos, he also has a win over Jorgensen, and won his last three fights.
Only time will tell who will get the first crack at Dominick
Cruz’s bantamweight title, but there is no shortage of great 135-pound fighters
ready to take the challenge.