(Torres discusses his war with Mizugaki in the post-event press-conference. Props: MMA Mania)
Yes, it’s only early April, but last night’s WEC main event between Miguel Torres and Takeya Mizugaki established itself as a 2009 Fight of the Year front-runner that might not be touched in the next nine months. (We’ll post the video as soon as it turns up, but the Internet is failing us right now.) Honestly, Torres/Mizugaki made Torres/Maeda look like Lashley/Guida. And the fight was a lot closer than the scorecards (or Frank Mir‘s biased, nuthugging commentary) would suggest.
Mizugaki shocked the crowd by fearlessly outstriking Torres in the opening round and keeping up an inhuman pace through 25 minutes; wisely, he avoided following Torres to the ground when the champion baited him. Torres may have had the edge in the later rounds, but he was never able to put the tough-as-nails challenger in danger of being finished. Still, he fought relentlessly, and once again proved himself the rightful owner of the 135-pound crown. His next thrilling victory will likely be in August against currently-sidelined #1-contender Brian Bowles.
For their efforts, both Torres and Mizugaki picked up $10,000 Fight of the Night bonuses. (That’s the best you can do, WEC? Now we know why Miguel wants to chase larger paydays in ill-advised weight classes.) Also taking home the extra 10 G’s were Anthony Njokuani for his Knockout of the Night over Bart Palaszewski, and Rani Yahya for his Submission of the Night (via first-round rear-naked choke) over Eddie Wineland.