The mark of a champion isn't always in the dominant victories. It's when a challenger pushes the champion to the breaking point, and they still come out with a win. That's exactly what WEC bantamweight champion, Miguel Angel Torres, did on Sunday night as he battled for all five rounds to finally get the win over challenger, TakeyaMizugaki.
It was clear early on that Mizugaki was ready to show no fear facing the defending champion as the Japanese fighter came out aggressive early and started winging big shots at Torres. The champion was able to hit back with shots of his own as the first round showed both fighters came to stand and bang.
Again in the second round, both fighters seemed like a slugfest was in order with Torres starting to move forward on his opponent, but Mizugaki refusing to back down landing shot after shot of his own. Torres was able to control the clinch where he landed several shots and even used his shoulders to try and chip away at Mizugaki's defense.
Mizugaki once again came out strong in the third round and actually caused the most visible damage of the whole fight as he landed a glancing blow to the champion, opening a good sized cut just above his eyebrow. The fight was stopped momentarily for doctors to check the cut, but a few moments later Torres was back in the pocket swinging with Mizugaki. Torres finally went for a takedown in the fourth round, but Mizugaki did a good job of defending and getting back up on his feet. The champion didn't lose confidence though and continuously moved forward going for strikes, as it seemed the Japanese fighter might be losing steam.
The final round again saw Torres come out gunning for Mizugaki, with a strong body attack, then moving to shots to the head. Mizugaki mustered everything he had to come back at Torres with punches and kicks, but the champion was crisper and more accurate with his strikes in the fifth round.
"Just to be a champion," Torres commented after the fight about his gameplan heading into the fifth round. "I wanted to fight the best guys in the world, Takeya's one of those guys, I knew I had to push him and make him tired, take the fight away from him, and that's what I went out and did."
As the judges' scorecards were read, Torres was able to celebrate another successful title defense, in probably his toughest fight to date.
"Takeya, you're a great challenger, I didn't expect that big of a fight out of you, he came out and he banged, he was there the whole time," Torres said to his opponent. "I have a whole lot of respect for him. Nobody has ever taken me that far in my career yet. I have a lot of respect for Takeya and I want to say thank you for taking the fight on short notice."
Just after Torres was announced the winner, his original opponent, BrianBowles, stepped into the cage to hopefully lay claim to the next shot at the WEC bantamweight gold.
"I'll be ready come August, I'll probably be ready," Bowles said addressing the crowd and discussing his recovery from a back injury.
Torres, ever the fighting champion, was ready and willing to accept the challenge.
"Brian get healthy, wherever you Brian, whenever you're ready, we'll do it," the champion said in closing to the Chicago crowd.
Main Card Bouts:-Miguel Torres def. Takeya Mizugaki by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) -Joseph Benavidez def. Jeff Curran by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) -Ben Henderson def. Shane Roller by TKO (strikes) at 1:41, R1-Raphael Assuncao def. Jameel Massouh by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Preliminary Card Bouts:-Anthony Njokuani def. Bart Palaszewski by TKO (strikes) at :27, R2 -Dominick Cruz def. Ivan Lopez by unanimous decison (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) -Wagnney Fabiano def. Fredson Paixao by unanimous decision (30-27,30-27, 30-27) -Rani Yahya def. Eddie Wineland by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:07, R1 -Akitoshi Tamura def. Manny Tapia by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) -Rafael Dias def. Mike Budnik by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
GROSS' BLOG:Blow-by-blow analysis of Torres vs. Takeya