by MMAWeekly.com Staff
World Extreme Cagefighting is officially headed to Arnold country.

The promotion on Monday announced WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz, slated for March 6 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The weekend holds significance for Zuffa, LLC, parent company of the lighter-weighted promotion. For the last three years, a UFC pay-per-view has occupied the Saturday night slot held in the midst of the Arnold Sports Festival, a bodybuilding, fitness, and martial arts expo.

With the UFC headed to Newark, N.J., in late March, an opportunity opened.

“Knowing that the weekend draws tens of thousands of the sporting world’s best athletes and enthusiasts to Columbus, WEC is proud to present the best of the best in the lighter weight classes in an event that is a ‘can’t miss’ for MMA fans,” said WEC General Manager Reed Harris.

Bantamweight champion Brian Bowles (8-0), who injured his left hand in his title-winning victory over the dominant Miguel Torres, will defend his title for the first time against Dominic Cruz in the card’s main event.

“I’m ready to defend my title,” Bowles said in the release. “Dominick is an elusive fighter and hard to hit, but I think I’ll connect with my punches. I’ve worked really hard to get this title and I want people to respect me. This fight is my chance to prove that I’m the best 135-pounder in the sport.”

Cruz (15-1) earned his contendership with four straight WEC victories, most recently an impressive decision over Joseph Benavidez at WEC 42.

“You know how a lot of champions get emotional when they win that belt?” Cruz said in the release. “I think the reason they are crying is because they see all of the sacrifices they put in to win that belt paying off right then and there. The same thing is going to happen to me, and the meaning of it will come together when I win that title. I’m going to beat Brian Bowles.”

Former bantamweight champion Torres (37-2) is scheduled to return on the Spring card, though his opponent remains TBA.

Meanwhile, former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver (22-12-1) makes a return to action silencing, for now, talk of retirement. His opponent also remains TBA.

The event will broadcast live on WEC broadcast partner Versus at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Tickets for the event go on sale March 19 at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office or Ticketmaster. A special pre-sale for WEC newsletter subscribers begins Dec. 17 at 10 a.m.