, America's best mixed martial artist, will defend his World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight title Sunday night against an opponent that hardly anyone in the United States has ever seen: Takeya Mizugaki
, the Cage Force champion whose 15 pro fights have all been in Japan.
So at a press event promoting the WEC 40
Torres-Mizugaki fight, I asked Mizugaki to describe his fighting style to fans who haven't seen him.
"I want to show American fans my heart, the strong heart that I have," Mizugaki said through a translator. "No matter who the opponent is, I'm going to keep going forward, attack and attack, never back off. I can do everything. I'm a mixed martial artist. But to finish the fight I always go for strikes. Whether standing or on the ground, I want to finish a fight with a knockout."
When I asked Mizugaki whether he thinks Torres is the best 135-pound fighter in the world, he answered, "Of course. He's a good striker and he's very good fighting off his back. He can kick hard because he doesn't have to worry about being knocked on his back because he's so good on the ground."
Mizugaki said the WEC isn't on the air in Japan, so only the hard-core MMA fans know about Torres, but that he often watched Torres and admired the way he fights.
"I was very surprised at first when I found out I was fighting Torres," Mizugaki said. "But I figured I was very lucky to get a shot at the title right off the bat."
Mizugaki also said he didn't bring any family with him for his first fight in the United States.
"I came here to fight," Mizugaki said. "I didn't come for an enjoyable vacation here."