Joe Benavidez thinks that Dominick Cruz has accomplished his goal of becoming a WEC champion and now the rest is gravy. Cruz thinks Benavidez is insane. We'll find out Wednesday night as the two square off in a rematch, this time with the hardware on the line, in the main event at WEC 50 in Las Vegas at the Palms (Versus 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
"I feel like he's almost hanging on to something," Benavidez [told the Las Vegas Sun]. "He beat me. He's got nothing to prove. He's thinking, 'God, I've got to fight this guy again.'"
Cruz thinks that's ridiculous.
"I think he can keep that thought to himself, because he's crazy," said Cruz. [...] "I'm as motivated as I've ever been in my entire life. [...]
"Just because I have the belt, that changes people's outlook on you, period," Cruz said. "But do they have respect for me as a fighter yet? Probably not. But I don't care. I'll go prove it."
Benavidez is also feeling comfortable because he's already faced Cruz. The 25-year-old Cruz is tall for the 135-pound weight class and comes at his opponents with a herky-jerky style. Benavidez has trouble in the first fight losing a unanimous decision. This time he's ready.
"That's why I have a great advantage," Benavidez said. "I've been in there and seen what he does. I've felt what he does. And I think I did fine."
Benavidez does respect Cruz's cardio and style.
"It's just different," Benavidez said. "No one in MMA fights like that or moves like that. That's a big part of his success. Someone gets in the ring with him and says, 'I've never seen anything like this.'"
WEC 50 betting odds (Courtesy Venetian/Lagasse Stadium Sports Book)
Official betting selections in bold
Dominick Cruz (-250) vs. Joe Benavidez (+200)
Cub Swanson (+240) vs. Chad Mendes (-320)
Brad Pickett (+250) vs. Scott Jorgensen (-330)
Anthony Njokuani (-450) vs. Maciej Jewtuuszko (+325)
Anthony Pettis (+180) vs. Shane Roller (-220)
Zach Micklewright (+210) vs. Bart Palaszewski (-270)
Mackens Semerzier (+170) vs. Javier Vasquez (-200)
Dave Jansen (-115) vs. Ricardo Lamas (-115)
Bryan Caraway (+130) vs. Fredson Paixao (-160)
Dustin Poirier (+150) vs. Danny Castillo (-180)
The heaviest action has come on Roller, Njokuani and Lamas. Roller was only minus-140 early in the week. The action has been completely one-sided on Njokuani, who jumped from minus-220. Lamas has gone from a slight underdog to a pick'em.