by Tom Hamliin – MMAWeekly.com
It was no surprise to Miguel Torres that opponent Takeya Mizugaki, his main event replacement for the injured Brian Bowles, was a skilled fighter. But the Japanese fighter’s toughness caught him off guard.
“I’ve spar with a lot of big guys and a lot of great strikers and I’ll hit them and I’ll hurt them, and I can tell I’ve hurt them,” Torres explained at the post-fight press conference for WEC 40. “I was hitting him and I thought I was hurting him, but he wasn’t showing any sign of that at all. He took everything like a champ. If anything, it made me want to hit him more. He has the samurai spirit, he’s a very strong fighter.”
The judges’ unanimous decision for Torres did not catch Mizugaki off guard, but he was still disappointed with the outcome.
“I knew I had to give everything I had to win this fight,” he said through translator Shu Hirata. “And I felt like I did give everything, but at the end, then I did realize that I was a little bit short, and there’s still part of the game that I need to improve. So I’ve got to say thanks to Miguel Torres for making me realize that.”
Mizugaki hoped Torres would continue to terrorize the bantamweight division so he could build towards a rematch.
Joseph Benevidez’s win over veteran Jeff Curran was further validation he deserved to be among the bantamweight division’s best, though talk of a shot at Torres may be premature.
“I beat a great opponent in Jeff Curran,” Benevidez said. “I think if he would have won, he would have definitely gotten a title shot. But as far as that goes, I think Brian Bowles definitely deserves the next title shot, and that’s gonna happen.”
Curran said the loss, his third straight since his WEC debut in August of 2007, would force him back to the drawing board.
“I need to regroup, start realizing what’s next for me in this sport,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere, I was born to do this, I love training and I love fighting, but I need to get on track, and I don’t want the pressure, I don’t want the title. No offense, I don’t want all the media. I want to get back to some roots and just train, try to find myself in it.”