Former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres will toe the line against the once-beaten Joseph Benavidez in the WEC 47 “Bowles vs. Cruz” co-main event on March 6 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The WEC on Monday made the 135-pound showdown official, along with a featherweight tilt pairing one-time UFC lightweight titleholder Jens Pulver with Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Javier Vazquez.

Torres, 29, has posted 17 wins in 18 fights but has not competed since surrendering his WEC crown in a brutal knockout loss to the undefeated Brian Bowles at WEC 42 in August. The East Chicago, Ind., native remains one of the sport’s most respected fighters, with noteworthy wins over 2008 Cage Force bantamweight tournament winner Takeya Mizugaki, former featherweight King of Pancrase Yoshiro Maeda and Pride Fighting Championships veteran Joe Pearson already on his resume. A disciple of the late Carlson Gracie, Torres has delivered 31 of his 37 career victories by KO, technical knockout or submission.

“I can’t wait to get back in the cage and show what I can do,” Torres said in a release. “Benavidez is probably the top contender at 135 right now, and I want to prove that I’m still the best in this division. I want to earn my way back to the belt.”

Anchored at Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male, Benavidez last appeared at WEC 45 in December, as he bounced back from a unanimous decision defeat to Dominick Cruz and stopped Rani Yahya on first-round strikes. Still only 25, he emerged as one of the world’s premier bantamweights with victories over Danny Martinez and Jeff Curran.

“I have envisioned us fighting for a long time,” Benavidez said. “I think fans are in for one of the best fights of the year. I think I’m capable of beating him. I’m really looking forward to proving myself against someone people have considered a legend and the best in the world.”

Pulver, in the twilight of his career, has lost six of his last seven fights, including four straight. The 35-year-old has not survived the first round in any of his past three appearances. Vazquez, meanwhile, has lost back-to-back split decisions since joining the WEC ranks. In 17 career bouts, he has never been finished.

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