Welcome to the bantamweight division Urijah Faber.
It took less than a round for the former king of the featherweight division to assert his dominance in his new weight class, choking out Takeya Mizugaki by rear naked choke to win his 135-pound debut.
Looking like the weight cut was no factor at all, Faber came out strong in the first round firing off punches and attacking Mizugaki right away. To his credit, Mizugaki didn’t back down and launched right back at the former 145-pound champion, and did a good job working from within the clinch as well.
With the fighters going back and forth looking for position against the cage, it was Faber who got the upper hand when he went for a quick guillotine, which Mizugaki countered by dropping to the mat. The move worked momentarily until Faber transitioned from a front headlock to take the Japanese fighter’s back seconds later.
Faber worked at a fevered pace to lock his arm under Mizugaki’s chin, and as the vice grip tightened, the fight was close to being over. Struggling under Faber’s hold crushing down on him like an anaconda, Mizugaki rolled to his belly and was soon fast asleep from the rear naked choke.
“The Japanese, they have that fighting spirit and this guy’s known for being a guy that goes to the very end, so I knew I had to do something drastic to put him out,” Faber stated about the choke that ended the fight.
Now 1-0 as a bantamweight with an impressive resume at other weights already at his disposal, Faber seems poised to make a run at the 135-pound title when the fighters move over to the UFC in 2011. There’s also no love lost between Faber and current bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, who the “California Kid” may have taken a bit of a shot at with his post fight comments.
“I wanted to finish, I’m a finisher, I think that’s what this division needs,” Faber said possibly eluding to the champion’s decision wins in some recent fights. “We’re going to the UFC after this. It’s been an awesome run for the WEC. It’s time to step it up and get my belt, UFC, and live the dream.”
A Faber/Cruz rematch from a fight they had at featherweight in 2007 would seem like a perfect title bout in the UFC, but first things first, Cruz has to defend his belt in the WEC one last time against Scott Jorgensen in December.