March 26, 2009

The city of Chicago will soon experience the first ever WEC event coming to town, and even better than that, two hometown heroes, Miguel Torres and Jeff Curran, will perform for the crowd on the show. But while Torres and Curran will face different opponents, the war of words between the two bantamweights continues to escalate with a potential showdown between them still lingering for the future.

Comments have been spattered back and forth between Torres and Curran for the past few months. When appearing on MMAWeekly Radio recently, the current bantamweight champion admits he has a lot of respect for Curran, but it's starting to get personal.

"It wasn't personal in the beginning. I respect Jeff Curran a lot. We've been around the scene, been on multiple cards together for the past eight years," Torres said on the radio show. "I've been at 35 my whole career. Jeff Curran's got up in weight to 55 for the UFC, he's fought in the WEC at 145, and he hasn't had a lot of success and now he's coming down to 135 to try to take what I've got."

"I totally respect that, he's a natural 135-pound fighter, but I just don't like the way he's going about trying to get a fight. He's using a lot of harsh words, saying a lot of things about me that I don't like, I don't respect too much. So for me it's a little bit personal. I like it better that way, it's going to make the fight more interesting."

Obviously both fighters have tough tests ahead of them on the April 5 WEC 40 show before they could ever get to match up against one another. Curran will face undefeated prospect Joseph Benavidez, who trains with former WEC champion Urijah Faber. While Torres believes Curran has the ability to win the fight, he needs to be careful of the young gun in Benavidez.

"The young guys, they're real dangerous because they don't have that fear," Torres said in reference to Benavidez having never lost a fight. "They don't have that experience to fear. Curran's more of a relaxed fighter. He'll come out and take his time and play his game, and Benavidez is the kind of fighter that's going to come out 100-percent, balls to the wall, from the beginning to the end. Those styles have their advantages and disadvantages, but I think Benavidez is in a position to do a lot of damage to Curran."

Regardless of picking who might win the fight, Torres knows that Curran has a formidable challenge ahead of him, and that might be the difference in the bout.

"I think Curran's going to be ready. He's training with a top team now, I hear. He has the technique, he has the power, but Benavidez has that mental aspect that Curran don't have yet. Curran lost that a long time ago," Torres stated. "Benavidez is going to be tough."

Curran will face Benavidez on the televised portion of WEC 40 in Chicago, while Torres defends his bantamweight title against Takeya Mizugaki in the main event.

For fans in the United States the name Mizugaki may not ring a bell just yet, but on April 5 the Japanese fighter is hoping to make a big impression as he makes his WEC debut in a title fight against bantamweight champion Torres at WEC 40 in Chicago.

Mizugaki got the call just a few weeks back when original challenger BrianBowles was forced out of the fight with a back injury. Now the former Shooto and Cage Force fighter is ready to show that he belongs with all the best 135-pound fighters in the world, and that's in the WEC.

"I think WEC is the best in the world at this 135-pounds and under weight class. That is why I chose to fight in the WEC," Mizugaki told in an exclusive interview.

Impressed by Torres' skills in the cage, Mizugaki knows he's got a big mountain to climb, but he believes by doing the right research and formulating a good gameplan, he can go back to Japan with WEC gold around his waist.

"I've seen a couple of his fights, it's going to be a tough fight especially at his home town, but in a way that makes everything more fun for me too," said Mizugaki. "From now on, I am going to start searching for his weakness by watching his fights. But he didn't lose much, so I know it's going to be difficult."

Mizugaki isn't concerned about stepping into the fight against Torres on short notice. He believes that his timing and training will put him over the top when it comes fight time on April 5.

One big advantage Mizugaki will have stepping into the fight that many other newcomers to the WEC would not have is cage experience. Never having lost fighting in a cage, the Japanese based fighter has extra confidence that he's ready for the challenge.

"I think my past experiences in the cage would help me a lot in this fight," Mizugaki stated. "I know how to get good position off the fence and all. Also, I am undefeated in the cage, so mentally I can enter the Octagon."

With the WEC's bantamweight division stocking a majority of the top 135-pounders in the world, and with Miguel Torres as champion and top dog in the weight class, Mizugaki believes that winning the gold will solidify his place among the best as well.

"That means I will become number one fighter in the world at 135-pounds and under and that also means I have achieved one of my goals as pro MMA fighter," Mizugaki said about what it would mean to be the WEC champion.

For his final days of training, Mizugaki also wanted to thank the people and sponsors around him that supported him and helped him get to this fight against Miguel Torres.

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