An injured Brian
Bowles has withdrawn from his title bout against World Extreme
Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel
Torres at WEC 40 on April 5 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, but
top-10 ranked Takeya
Mizugaki has stepped out of the wings to fill the void. The
replacement bout has been agreed to and will be inked shortly,
according to multiple sources close to the negotiations.
The undefeated Bowles, who’s clocked in four straight WEC
victories, suffered a severe back injury on Monday and will
recuperate for the next month, said a camp source.
The 25-year-old Japanese standout has been
offered a five-fight deal with the promotion, according to his
management, with Mizugaki’s first order of business to be against
the revered East Chicago, Ind., native in a five-round title
Torres (35-1), one of the sport’s most accomplished competitors,
will carry an incredible 16-fight winning streak into his third
title defense. The 28-year-old firebrand 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.
Mizugaki (11-2-2) was an overwhelming favorite in Greatest Common
Multiple’s Cage Force bantamweight tournament, where he punched out
Oishi in December’s final to take the title. The former Shooto
rookie MVP is currently ranked as Sherdog.com’s No. 6
Also on the card, former featherweight title challenger Jeff Curran
will make his long-awaited debut at 135 pounds when he meets the
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
Thomas Brown and Urijah Faber
-- and has not competed since June. The 31-year-old holds victories
against former International Fight League featherweight champion
Assuncao and Antonio
Carvalho, among others.
Benavidez (9-0), a Faber protégé, made a successful promotional
debut at WEC 37 last December, though he was taken the distance for
the first time in a unanimous decision victory against Danny
Martinez. Six of his nine wins have come by submission.