I felt this way coming into the weekend. Post-UFC 101 I'm sure of it.

Sunday night's WEC bantamweight title fight in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino between Miguel Torres and Brian Bowles will be the most competitive and compelling bout of the bunch. It could be the best of the year, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The brash Torres (37-1) has earned a well deserved reputation as deliverer of all things "fight of the year." He's cocky, stubborn, sometimes angry in the cage. While those traits might zap the energy from some fighters, they make Torres tenacious. And with a long reach, slender frame and high-energy style that mixes equal parts striking and submission, the Mexican American is a gifted mixed martial artist

-- which is great since it's all he's ever wanted to do.

Only recently, as lighter fighters received proper recognition for their accomplishments, has the 135-pound mulleted product of East Chicago, Ind., elevated himself to near universal recognition as a

top-5 pound-for-pounder.

Neither fame nor fortune have matched Torres' lofty position, though that's hardly an indictment of the fighter; it's a simple fact of life for mixed martial artists similarly sized and equally skilled as Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

None of it matters, obviously, should Torres fail in what would be his fourth WEC bantamweight title defense.

Sunday's challenger doesn't possess a quarter of Torres' in-ring experience, but that doesn't mean Bowles, a native of Athens, Ga., is out of his league. Hardly. He appears to be in the mold of WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown: a powerful wrestler adapted wonderfully into a well-rounded fighter. Bowles, 29, seems gritty enough to match Torres in the first three rounds, and his ability via wrestling to dictate where the fight plays out gives him a better-than- bad chance at ending Torres' reign and 17-fight win streak.

While Torres, 28, has recently embraced fighting to opponent's strengths as a test of his manhood, that seems unlikely here. Knowing he can't outwrestle Bowles, Torres is free to strike with power and rely on an active jiu-jitsu game when he's taken down. Like Torres'

Recent challengers Yoshiro Maeda and Takeya Mizugaki, Bowles (7-0) can't be afraid to exchange on the feet, but running at Torres arms flailing is begging to get knocked out. If he plays it smart and tight, Bowles has a real chance at pulling off what most would consider a major upset.

From my seat, Torres' focus and pressure will be too much over the course of five rounds.

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