On the eve of his third title defense, World Extreme Cagefighting
bantamweight champion Miguel Torres
looked like a man on a mission.
The mullet-sporting mixed martial arts maestro checked in at 135
pounds for his main event showdown with Takeya
Mizugaki (135) at WEC 40 “Torres vs. Mizugaki” on Sunday at the
UIC Pavilion in Chicago. Of the 18 other fighters booked to compete
on the card, only featherweight Mike Budnik
(149) failed to make weight at Saturday’s official weigh-in.
One of the sport’s most accomplished and revered competitors,
Torres will carry an incredible 16-fight winning streak into the
match. The 28-year-old East Chicago, Ind., native last appeared 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.
“It’s an honor to be able to come back to my city of Chicago and
defend my title,” Torres said. “I feel that all the pressure’s on
my opponent. He’s coming into my backyard. He’s not just fighting
me; he’s fighting all my friends and my family and my
A promising Japanese import, Mizugaki has won five consecutive
bouts, including a technical knockout victory against Masahiro
Oishi in December that capped his title run in the Cage Force
bantamweight tournament. The 25-year-old has stopped his past three
opponents, two of them inside the first round.
“I’m a striker. I like to strike people,” Mizugaki said. “It seems
like Miguel Torres
is the same way, too. I think people think I’m the underdog because
not many people know who I am. That’s fine.”
Torres, viewed by most as the world’s premier mixed martial artist
at 135 pounds, expects a stout challenge from the WEC newcomer.
“I think Takeya’s going to bring a great fight, and I’m ready for
anything he’s going to come and show me,” he said. “I know he likes
to stand up and bang. He’s got great wrestling skills, so he can
keep the fight on his feet. I don’t plan on taking him to the
ground. He wants to knock me out, and I plan on knocking him out.
The longer he trades with me, the more he’s going to get hurt.”
Meanwhile, former featherweight title challenger Jeff Curran
(135) will make his long-awaited debut at bantamweight when he
meets the fast-rising Joseph
A polished Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Curran 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. Curran has secured more than half (18)
of his 29 career wins by submission.
Benavidez, a Faber protégé, made a successful promotional debut at
WEC 37, though he was taken the distance for the first time in a
unanimous decision victory against Danny
Martinez. Still only 24, the Dream veteran cut his teeth inside
the Warrior Cup and Palace Fighting Championship promotions. Six of
his nine wins have come by submission.
WEC 40: Torres vs. Mizugaki
Sunday, April 5