CHICAGO -- Miguel Torres
returned victorious to his hometown Sunday night, as the World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion defeated challenger Takeya Mizugaki
at WEC 40
by unanimous decision in a tough, hard-fought battle that will make any list of the best fights of 2009.
The first round was exciting and fast-paced, with Mizugaki appearing to catch Torres by surprise with his punching power early on, but Torres finding his range later in the round and connecting with punches and kicks. The stand-up battle continued in the second round, and it was clear that Mizugaki was going to give a greater challenge to Torres than just about anyone expected.
Midway through the third round a cut opened over Torres' right eye, and the referee paused the fight to let the cageside doctor take a look. The fight continued, but Torres was bloodied, and he started to look like he thought he was in trouble. But in the fourth it appeared that Torres' legendary conditioning was paying off, as he looked like he had more energy than Mizugaki.
In the fifth Torres showed off some impressive boxing and landed cleaner, more effective punches. It was a tougher fight than he could have expected, but Torres won on all three judges' scorecards, and he won four of five rounds on my scorecard.
Mizugaki was devastated by the decision; he walked out of the cage sobbing while his cornermen tried to console him. Torres was classy in defeat, saluting Mizugaki before saying he expected to take on No. 1 contender Brian Bowles next.
Torres improves his record to 37-1. Mizugaki falls to 11-3-2.
Here are the full WEC 40 undercard results:
Joseph Benavidez beat Jeff Curran by unanimous decision
Ben Henderson beat Shane Roller by first-round TKO (strikes)
Rafael Assuncao beat Jameel Massouh by unanimous decision
Rafael Dias beat Mike Budnik by unanimous decision
Akitoshi Tamura beat Manny Tapia by unanimous decision
Rani Yahya beat Eddie Wineland by first-round submission (rear-naked choke)
Wagnney Fabiano beat Fredson Paxiao by unanimous decision
Dominick Cruz beat Ivan Lopez by unanimous decision
Anthony Njokuani beat Bart Palaszewski by second-round TKO (strikes)