WEC 50 Live Blog: Dominick Cruz vs. Joseph Benavidez Updates

This is the WEC 50 live blog for Dominick Cruz vs. Joseph Benavidez, a bantamweight title bout on tonight's WEC on Versus card at the Pearl in Las Vegas.

Cruz puts his title on the line in a rematch against Benavidez. Cruz defeated Benavidez the first time around via unanimous decision at WEC 42 in August 2009.

The live blog is below.




Round 1: This one gets off to a slow start as the pair dance around the periphery of the cage. Benavidez lands the fight's first significant strike, a counter punch one minute in. There's a lot of movement in this fight, but also a lot of patience as both men are slow to commit. Cruz wades in with a kick and Benavidez hammers him with an overhand right. Cruz ducks in for a takedown with one minute left in the round. Benavidez throws elbows from the bottom while Cruz finds his mark with punches from the top. Very close opening round. MMA Fighting scores it for Cruz 10-9.

Round 2: Benavidez is bloodied during an early exchange in the round. The cut is at his hairline and it's probably going to bleed into his eye. Something that could play a factor as we move on. Benavidez scores with a headkick. In the first round, he was timing Cruz, in this round he is moving forward a bit more and landing. Cruz lands a hard right, but he's not looking for combinations right now. Benavidez tried a takedown, but Cruz easily pulled free. Cruz hit a flying knee with a minute left. It landed clean but Benavidez shook it off. This is going to be a hellacious fight to score for the judges because there's so much action and not much separating the two. MMA Fighting scores it for Benavidez 10-9.

Round 3: Benavidez definitely learned his lessons from their first fight. He's no easy target for Cruz, and he's pressing the action quite often. The two trade off as far as which man is going to play aggressor and which is going to counter-strike. They land fairly equally, too. This is a straight-up finesse fight, and finesse fights are difficult to judge. Benavidez scores with a right, Cruz answers with a pair of body kicks. Cruz gets a takedown in the last 10 seconds, which will probably steal him the round. MMA Fighting scores another razor-close round for Cruz, 10-9.

Round 4: Cruz gets an early takedown in round four. Both men have to know how tight this one is, so takedowns could decide the championship, as crazy as that sounds. Cruz stays active on top and tries to pass to mount. Instead, he decides to try the arm bar, but Benavidez escapes. Benavidez tries a guillotine, but Cruz was never in any real danger and frees himself. Benavidez throws a knee during some clinchwork that bloodies Cruz immediately. Cruz takes him down moments later and moves to side control, the full mount. Benavidez shows tremendous ground defense though, freeing himself seconds later. Another close round. MMA Fighting scores it for Cruz, 10-9.

Round 5: Cruz tries an early takedown again. Benavidez sees it coming and sprawls effectively. Cruz grazes Benavidez with a flying knee. The round nears the midway point and the pace has hardly slowed from the opening bell. Cruz sneaks a right to the jaw, Benavidez eats it and fires back a kick. Benavidez scores with a right of his own. Neither man seems affected by anything the other throws, even though it appears many of these strikes are landing. With about 30 seconds left, they flurry with Cruz landing a head kick. Benavidez tries his own but Cruz catches him and takes him down, landing a few ground strikes before the closing bell. MMA Fighting scores it for Cruz, 10-9.

Winner: Dominick Cruz via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)

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