Miguel Angel Torres (35-1) defends his WEC bantamweight title against striker Takeya Mizugaki (11-2-2) LIVE TONIGHT on VERSUS beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. In the co-main event, bantamweight contender Jeff Curran looks to make his case for a shot at the belt when he battles undefeated phenom Joseph Benavidez. Eight more exciting bouts fill out WEC’s inaugural trip to the Windy City.
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With four straight WEC wins, Torres has rapidly become one of the most feared fighters in the sport. The blend of speed, striking, and submissions skills of Torres will be on display when he takes on the renowned Japanese star Mizugaki. Unbeaten since 2007, Mizugaki is heralded for his Muay Thai striking and willingness to trade. The 5’7″, 135-pound challenger makes his U.S. debut in Chicago on April 5 and has vowed to knock out the hometown champion.
In the co-main event, Island Lake, Illinois’ Jeff “Big Frog” Curran looks to make his case for a shot at the bantamweight belt when he battles undefeated phenom Joseph Benavidez.
A longtime favorite of the Midwest fight scene, former WEC featherweight contender and title challenger Curran (31-10-1) has long had his sights set on Miguel Torres, and he has even dropped down to the bantamweight division to chase his local rival. There is business to take care of for both men first though, and for Curran, that means his clash with Benavidez.
Benavidez (9-0) came to the WEC last December with a lot of hype due to his raw talent and impressive previous performances, and he lived up to the expectations with a big win over Danny Martinez. Benavidez – the stablemate of former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber – is ready for the next step in his career, and for him, there would be nothing better than to add the name Jeff Curran to his victims list.
In addition to the electric main event between WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres and Japanese striker Takeya Mizugaki plus the bantamweight co-feature clash between Joseph Benavidez and Jeff Curran, eight more exciting bouts fill out WEC’s inaugural trip to the Windy City.
Before the co-main events get underway, lightweights Ben Henderson (fighting out of Glendale, AZ) and Shane Roller (fighting out of Las Vegas, NV) lock horns in a battle between two accomplished wrestlers. After making his WEC debut in January with a submission win over Anthony Njokuani, Henderson looks to continue his rise in the 155-pound division by defeating Roller. Defeating Roller will be no easy task though. The Tulsa, OK native is a three-time Division I All-American wrestler and currently riding a five-fight winning streak. Roller, undefeated in the WEC with wins over Todd Moore and Mike Budnik, is rapidly climbing the lightweight ladder and looks to get one step closer to the title with a win over Henderson.
Brazilian Raphael Assuncao (fighting out of Marietta, GA) makes his long-awaited WEC debut when he tackles the well-rounded Jameel Massouh (fighting out of Milwaukee, WI). Touting a 12-1 record, Assuncao is a feared 145-pound competitor whose arrival spells trouble for the featherweight elite. Known for his slick ground work, Assuncao will have his hands full with former Pancrase star Massouh. A winner of 21 of 25 bouts since launching his professional career in 2005, Massouh is a well-rounded fighter with a unique blend of knockout power and submissions.
Nigerian-born striker Anthony Njokuani (fighting out of Las Vegas, NV) battles the veteran Bart Palaszewski (30-12). Palaszewski has excellent knockout power and a good ground games to counter the Muay Thai savvy Njokuani, who has a record of 22-0 as a professional kickboxer. Palaszewski is a former XFO champion and he is trained by Jeff Curan. Njokuani hopes to use his potent leg kicks to derail the striking game of Palaszewski.
With three straight victories since losing to then-featherweight champion Urijah Faber in 2007, the supremely-conditioned Dominick Cruz (fighting out of San Diego, CA) hopes to entrench himself in the bantamweight division with a win over newcomer Ivan Lopez (fighting out of San Diego, CA). Since moving to the 135-pound weight class in 2008, Cruz has pounded out unanimous decision wins over Charlie Valencia and Ian McCall. Undefeated at 9-0, Lopez has taken the bantamweight scene by storm with superior kickboxing and submission skills. Born in Tijuana, Mexico and now fighting out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA, Lopez is looking to make a name for himself in the WEC with a win over Cruz.
Fighters who have had the misfortune of going to the ground with decorated Brazilian jiu jitsu artist Wagnney Fabiano (fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) have had a difficult time avoiding the black belt’s submission attempts. The grappler has won six of his last seven bouts by submission, including a victory over Akitoshi Tamura in December. The 33-year-old featherweight contender will look to earn his eighth straight victory when he battles similarly gifted grappler Fredson Paixao (fighting out of Las Vegas, NV). A fellow Brazilian, Paixao is dangerous on the ground and has won eight of 10 professional bouts.
An intriguing bantamweight bout pits local product Eddie Wineland (fighting out of Highland, IN) against submission ace Rani Yahya (fighting out of San Diego, CA). The 24-year-old Wineland is a former WEC bantamweight titleholder who boasts competent wrestling and striking. Those skills will be put on display against Yahya, who is coming off an impressive first round submission victory over Yoshiro Maeda last November.
Rugged 135-pound contender Manny Tapia (fighting out of Chino, CA) looks to rebound from a December loss to champion Miguel Torres when he takes onOsaka, Japan’s Akitoshi Tamura. Tamura, who is coming off a hard-fought three rounder with Wagnney Fabiano, is hungry to gain his first WEC win and will look to use his submissions and kickboxing to stymie Tapia.
Mike Budnik hopes his submission skills and KO power will allow him to overcome American Top Team product Rafael Dias (fighting out of Coconut Creek, FL). Dias, a former law student who trains at one of the top gyms in the country, will almost certainly want to fight to go to the ground while Budnik – who trains at the Triton CCSD in Tulsa, OK – wants to keep the fight from turning into a grappling match.
WEC: Torres vs. Mizugaki will be televised LIVE on VERSUS beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT. All live WEC events are presented in Hi-Definition (HD) where available. Visit http://www.versus.com/findversus for information on how to find VERSUS in your local viewing area.