Anchored by a showdown between World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres and unbeaten contender Manny Tapia, WEC 37 has started to round into form.

In another key bout at 135 pounds, the undefeated and fast-rising Brian Bowles will meet Brazilian Will Ribeiro on Dec. 3 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The victor will likely move into position for a shot at WEC gold sometime in early 2009.

Bowles (6-0) last appeared at WEC 35 in August, when he submitted Damacio Page with a first-round guillotine choke. A well-rounded product of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga., the 28-year-old has yet to go the distance as a professional. Wins against Marcos Galvao and Charlie Valencia highlight his resume.

A surprise split decision winner over former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe in June, Ribeiro (10-1) has put together a four-fight winning streak since he suffered his lone career defeat in March 2007. The former Brazilian boxing champion favors stand-up exchanges, as half of his 10 wins have come by knockout or technical knockout.

WEC 37 will also mark the promotional debut for one of the sport’s premier featherweights, as former International Fight League champion Wagnney Fabiano collides with Akitoshi Tamura.

Fabiano (10-1) will carry a six-fight winning streak into his first WEC appearance. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who ripped through IFL competition -- he won five of his six bouts there inside one round -- the 33-year-old has not fought since he knocked out Shad Lierley in April. Fabiano’s only loss came in a controversial decision to Jeff Curran two years ago.

Tamura (12-6-2), the former Shooto 143-pound titleholder, has posted five wins in six fights, the lone blemish a majority decision loss to Hideki Kadowaki. The 28-year-old Japanese standout submitted Rumina Sato with a North-South choke in May and also holds a high-profile victory against Takeshi Inoue.

In other action, Joseph Benavidez, an unbeaten protégé of former featherweight champion Urijah Faber, will also make his way onto the WEC stage for the first time.

Seasoned by the Palace Fighting Championship and Dream promotions, Benavidez (9-0) will match skills with Danny Martinez in a bantamweight tilt. The blue-chip prospect last appeared at Dream 5 in July, when he submitted Junya Kudo with a guillotine choke in 2:42. Benavidez was originally booked to face Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, but their bout fell through when Yamamoto withdrew with a knee injury.

Martinez (12-2) -- who cut his teeth in the TKO and Rage in the Cage promotions -- has yet to be finished in 14 career bouts. He has won his last three fights and pushed UFC veteran Mark Hominick to a decision in December. Martinez submitted Joey Marimberga at an Evolution MMA event last month in Phoenix.

WEC 37 will also feature an intriguing featherweight matchup pairing Hiroyuki Takaya with Cub Swanson, along with the promotional debuts of IFL mainstay Bart Palaszewski and two-time national wrestling champion Johny Hendricks.

WEC 37
Wednesday, Dec. 3
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas

Miguel Torres vs. Manny Tapia

Brian Bowles vs. Will Ribeiro
Wagnney Fabiano vs. Akitoshi Tamura
Danny Martinez vs. Joseph Benavidez
Johny Hendricks vs. Justin Haskins
Mark Munoz vs. Ricardo Barros
Blas Avena vs. Kevin Knabjan
Diego Nunes vs. Cole Province
Bart Palaszewski vs. Alex Karalexis
Hiroyuki Takaya vs. Cub Swanson
Shane Roller vs. Mike Budnik

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