Both fighters ended up bloodied after going toe-to-toe for much of the 25-minute headliner, but Cruz’s reach and takedowns proved to be the difference in earning a split decision with scores of 47-48, 48-47, and 49-46.
The WEC 50 co-main event saw lightweight contender Anthony Pettis stuff the takedowns of Shane Roller to keep the fight on their feet, where he connected with strikes before finally forcing Roller to tap to a triangle choke with just 9-seconds left in the bout.
In other WEC 50 action, Scott Jorgensen likely earned the next shot at the bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Brad Pickett, featherweight Chad Mendes remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision over Cub Swanson, and lightweight Bart Palaszewski scored a second-round TKO of Zach Micklewright.
The official WEC 50 results were:
MAIN CARD (Versus)
- Champ Dominick Cruz def. Joseph Benavidez via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 49-46)
WEC Bantamweight Championship
- Anthony Pettis def. Shane Roller via submission (triangle choke) – Round 3, 4:51
- Chad Mendes def. Cub Swanson via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28
- Scott Jorgensen def. Brad Pickett via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Bart Palaszewski def. Zach Micklewright via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 0:31
- Maciej Jewtuszko def. Anthony Njokuani via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:35
- Javier Vazquez def. Mackens Semerzier via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:35
- Ricardo Lamas def. Dave Jansen via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Fredson Paixao def. Bryan Caraway via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Danny Castillo def. Dustin Poirier via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Pictured: Dominick Cruz