World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres will defend his crown against unbeaten challenger Brian Bowles at WEC 40 on April 5 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. The WEC made the matchup official on Tuesday.

Torres (35-1), one of the sport’s most accomplished and revered competitors, will carry an incredible 16-fight winning streak into his third title defense. The 28-year-old East Chicago, Ind., native last competed in December when he throttled the previously undefeated Manny Tapia at WEC 37, burying the Californian under a second-round barrage of punches and elbows. Torres has finished his last 11 opponents -- six of them inside one round -- and has not tasted defeat in more than five years.

A professional for only three years, Bowles (7-0) has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the 135-pound charts. The 28-year-old West Virginia native burst on the scene in 2007 with wins against former King of the Cage lightweight champion Charlie Valencia and world-ranked bantamweight Marcos Galvao. Based out of the American Top Team-affiliated Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga., Bowles solidified his standing as the top contender to Torres’ throne with a submission victory against talented Brazilian Will Ribeiro at WEC 37. He has never gone the distance as a professional.

Meanwhile, former featherweight title challenger Jeff Curran will make his long-awaited debut at 135 pounds when he meets the fast-rising Joseph Benavidez at WEC 40.

A polished Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Curran (29-10-1) has dropped back-to-back fights to the world’s top two featherweights -- Mike Thomas Brown and Urijah Faber -- and has not competed since June. The 31-year-old holds victories against former International Fight League featherweight champion Wagnney Fabiano, Rafael Assuncao and Antonio Carvalho, among others. Curran has secured more than half (18) of his 29 career wins by submission.

Benavidez (9-0), a Faber protégé, made a successful promotional debut at WEC 37, though he was taken the distance for the first time in a unanimous decision victory against Danny Martinez. Still only 24, the Dream veteran cut his teeth inside the Warrior Cup and Palace Fighting Championship promotions. Six of his nine wins have come by submission.

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