Sometimes waiting is the hardest part of a fighter’s life when they are closing in on a big match-up. For Takeya Mizugaki, he’s been waiting months to finally welcome former WEC champion Urijah Faber to the bantamweight division, but he’s hoping it all pays off when he faces the new 135-pounder to the cage on Thursday night.
Originally scheduled to meet in August, Faber was forced out of the fight due to a minor knee injury. Instead of taking another fight, Mizugaki opted to bide his time and wait for the chance to face that fighter many have called the face of the WEC.
“When the fight in August was cancelled, I lost this ‘tension’ for the fight, so I didn’t want to fight the other fighter,” Mizugaki told MMAWeekly.com prior to the fight. “Then we talked about the possibility of September, but when I found out it’s not going to be in September, I did think (about fighting someone else) for a while, but I decided to wait for the opportunity to fight Urijah.”
It’s no secret that a win over Faber launches Mizugaki to another level in regards to his standing within the bantamweight division and his notoriety due to beating such a well known fighter. That interest has now doubled because, after this fight, both Faber and Mizugaki will make the move along with the rest of the WEC over to the UFC.
The opportunity to be involved in a fight like this was worth the wait says Mizugaki, and now it’s an even bigger fight than before.
“Of course, I think any fighter would appreciate the opportunity to be in a ‘high profile’ fight, so I am very happy,” Mizugaki stated. “And by fighting Urijah Faber, I think I will gain so many different things.”
Beating Faber raises the Japanese fighter’s stock exponentially as he enters the fray of the UFC. Faber has been mentioned as a possible title contender with a win, as well as a candidate to coach a season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Mizugaki would love to play spoiler and earn any and all of those spots for himself if he can get past the “California Kid.”
“I know a win over a big name fighter like Urijah would get me a step closer to the title shot, and of course, one more time, I want to challenge for that title,” he said.
Mizugaki admits that one of the most intriguing aspects of the upcoming fight is Faber’s drop to 135 pounds for the first time. A former wrestler with tons of weight cutting experience falls on Faber’s side, but there is undoubtedly risk involved when a fighter hasn’t cut that much weight before.
The Japanese fighter would be remiss if he didn’t admit that being the welcoming committee for Faber’s debut at 135 pounds was a big factor in taking and waiting for this fight. Regardless of his standing at bantamweight, Faber has been boastful about hopefully getting a title shot with a win at WEC 52, but Mizugaki doesn’t believe he’s being overlooked.
“It’s his first fight at 135 and that is why I think my chance of winning is greater,” Mizugaki admitted. “And its only natural for a fighter to talk about getting a title, so I think it’s nothing special in particular.”
Mizugaki will try to prove that the fight with Faber was worth the wait when the two bantamweights face off in the main event of WEC 52 this Thursday night in Las Vegas.