Top-10 featherweights Urijah Faber (23-4) and Takeya Mizugaki (13-4-2) will clash in the WEC 52 main event on Nov. 11 at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nev. Both fighters have been up-and-down in their last few fights but Mizugaki is coming off a unanimous decision win over Rani Yahya at WEC 48 and Faber is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Jose Aldo at the same event.
Faber will be looking to get back on the winning track and Mizugaki would like to start building off his recent victory. For Mizugaki, a win over Faber would be a huge accomplishment and just what he needs to move himself up the ranks toward a future title shot.
Pawel Sawicki and Shu Hirata of Polish website MMANEWS.PL, recently spoke with Mizugaki about the upcoming bout and has been kind enough to share the translated version of his interview here with us at ProMMAnow.com.
Takeya, how did you start training and did you win any tournaments in Japan when you were younger?
I started training MMA because I was a fan of PRIDE and Shooto, and I really liked Rumina Sato so I just wanted to try. Before MMA, I did Kendo (Japanese sword fighting) till end of high school, and we won the team national title. In terms of my amateur MMA career, I did win the All Japan Amateur Shooto title at the featherweight (135 lbs). I believe, my amateur record is, 11 wins and 3 losses.
How popular are you in Japan? Why did you choose to fight with an organization (WEC) outside Japan?
I don’t think I am that recognizable among the Japanese fans. (WEC is not televised in Japan) But I chose WEC because I felt this promotion has the best fighters in the world at my weight class, and most importantly, I felt, and still feel that WEC is the “top league.”
What is your opinion of Urijah Faber?
I think he is physically very strong, and as a fighter, he has tremendous instinct. But I think his best strength is that strong heart he got. He never gives up at any situation.
You like to trade punches. What is your grappling like and do you have any rank in grappling?
Sure I am a striker but remember I am a MMA fighter and that means my grappling is not so bad. I have defeated top grapplers like Jeff Curran and Rani Yahya, and I did go to the ground with them. But, I never competed in the grappling tourney though. (laugh)
What do you think about wrestling in MMA, especially after Nogueira vs. Bader fight?
I believe wrestling is the most important technique in the MMA in terms of bringing the fight to your own pace. If you are a striker then wrestling will give you how to defend from the take down attempt, and if you are grappler then you can use wrestling technique to bring the fight to the ground. Therefore, having wrestling skill, for sure, will broaden your fight style. In MMA, even a top fighter like Nogueira, especially where elbow strikes to the head is allowed, sometime fighting off the back can be very difficult. Also, for judges impression, its important to keep the top position on the ground. But in MMA we do need more than just a wrestling skill. So the ideal is, to have wrestling plus striking, and also, submission skill to finish the opponent.
Do you have any game plan for this fight?
My approach to this fight is, just like any other fight. I would like to knock him out.
Thank you for talking with us Takeya. Would you like to thank any sponsors or add anything?
I would like to thank all my sponsors for supporting me from day one in the States. I really appreciated that. Sprawl, Affliction, Manto, Seven Deuce, Dell Computers, Fighter Warehouse, American Spartans, Hayaubusa, and Touche’ Salon. I can’t thank them enough!