- Brian Knapp
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A heavy underdog despite his perfect professional record, Bowles (8-0) dropped the oncoming Torres with a short right hook and then smashed away at him until he was unconscious on the ground at WEC 42 "Torres vs. Bowles" on Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Torres (37-2), who had not lost in almost six years and had never been finished in 38 previous bouts, ate several wicked right hands on the ground. The decisive stoppage left no doubt that Bowles had arrived as the world's premier bantamweight. Torres met his unsettling end 3 minutes, 57 seconds into the first round.
"I was just confident that I could win," Bowles said. "I convinced myself that I could beat him. I just stayed calm. A lot of other people, I think, get caught up in the hype with him and are afraid of him. I just wasn't worried about it. I put all that to the side."
Bowles -- the soft-spoken West Virginia native based out of the American Top Team-affiliated Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga. -- set the tone early, as he staggered Torres with a stout right hand in the opening moments of the fight. He later scored with a takedown and delivered some effective ground-and-pound before the two men returned to a standing position. Torres clipped Bowles with a combination but left himself exposed as he pursued his backpedaling challenger. Bowles drew in Torres and landed a crisp right hook that marked the beginning of the end of Torres' title reign.
"He had me rattled there pretty bad and I kind of recovered," Bowles said. "I seen him coming in a little hard and just swung a good hook and hit him right on the jaw."
Torres, the 28-year-old Carlson Gracie protégé who had won 17 in a row, had not tasted defeat since he lost a unanimous decision to Ryan Ackerman at an Ironheart Crown show in November 2003.
Brian Knapp is a contributor to Sherdog.com.