WEC 40 Review: Torres wins five-round war

WEC 40 came to us all live on Sunday April 5, 2009, from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. The story coming in? How about WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres taking on Takeya Mizugaki? Not to mention a fight between Jeff Curran and up and comer Joseph Benavidez.

First up was a match between Raphael Assuncao and Jameel Massouh. Before the fight, Massouh said, "this is my shot, this is my dream, nothing is going to get in the way." But what was really original was the fact that he came out to Led Zeppelin.

Early on, a Massouh left coupled with a slip dropped Assuncao. However, Assuncao got right back to his feet and started throwing punches again. In fact, soon after he ended up catching his opponent with a punch that dropped him. Massouh latched onto a heel hook while on the ground, but that attempt fell by the wayside when Assuncao went for a toe hold that managed to get him out of trouble. The two then came to their feet, where Assuncao shot in and gained a takedown. He then followed up with some significant ground and pound. That said, Massouh turned Assuncao over and managed to get to his feet. Still, the hard strikes by Assuncao continued, including a right hand that once again dropped his opponent.

Massouh survived until the bell.

Assuncao picked up where he left off in the second, connecting with several hard punches, including some overhand rights. From there, Massouh looked for the takedown only to almost get caught in a guillotine for his efforts. Despite the fact that Massouh escaped, Assuncao held him th ere in a headlock for a long period of time. Once the two came to their feet, Assuncao dominated the stand up action with well-placed kicks and punches. The fight went to the ground at the tail end of the round due to a slip by Massouh, where the two scrambled some.

Massouh needs a stoppage in the third round in order to win.

The two traded some strikes early in the third before Assuncao managed the takedown. Soon after, the BJJ expert achieved the mount position only to watch his adversary turn things over on him. Massouh attempted to take Assuncao's back only to lose his top position advantage to his opponent. There Assuncao looked to improve his position until the bell.

A clear win for Assuncao, even if the submission most thought was coming never did. That said, Massouh surely did prove that he's a tough guy.

Raphael Assuncao wins via unanimous decision.

Next up was a match between former collegiate wrestler Shane Roller and Ben Henderson. "I'm ready to get out there and whip some ass," said Roller coming in. Of course, Henderson had different plans. Whose would win out?

That's why they fight the fights.

Early on, a hard left-right combination by Roller dropped Henderson. From there, he immediately went for a guillotine that failed. Then Henderson got to his feet and even landed a hard knee inside. Soon after, Henderson gained a takedown and when Roller began to come to his feet, Henderson landed a flurry that included a hard left that dropped his adversary. Several punches on the canvas later, and the referee was forced to call things.

Ben Henderson wins by way of TKO at 1:41 of round one.

"I'm definitely gonna try and take his head off," said Bart Palaszewski coming into his fight in front of the hometown crowd again st Anthony Njokuani. But they call Njokuani "The Assassin" for a reason, no?

Early on, Palaszewski wrestled Njokuani to the ground only to see his opponent immediately get to his feet. From there, Njokuani began using his jab rather effectively. Then came the kicks. And eventually, Njokuani connected with a huge right the dropped his opponent. Though Palaszewski did eventually get to his feet after being pummeled by some ground and pound (he even gained a takedown) the first round clearly went to Njokuani.

Early in the second, Njokuani came out strong with a hard right that dropped his adversary. This time, he was all over his opponent with punches on the ground until the referee was forced to step in.

Njokuani is a fighter to watch for sure.

Anthony Njokuani wins by way of TKO after 27 seconds in round number two.

Next up was a fight between Joseph Benavidez and Jeff Curran. Would athleticism (Benavidez) win out over experience (Curran)? How about wrestling (Benavidez) vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Curran)? This promised to be a good one coming in.

The first round saw both of these fighters trading some, with Curran utilizing the jab and Benavidez some kicks. The two then clinched due to Benavidez's aggressiveness. After some work there and a separation, Benavidez connected with a hard left that dropped his adversary. Ground and pound ensued until the bell.

The first round goes to Benavidez.

Early on, Benavidez connected with some nice leg kicks. When Curran allowed the fight to go to the ground (and his back), Benavidez scored with some solid ground and pound. Then Curran got to his feet. After a clinch, he jumped into guard with an omoplata in hand. Benavidez, however, escaped and worked some ground and pound.

Here comes the final stanza.

Benavidez got the best of Curran in the striking department early on again, seeming to utilize his superior athleticism to move in and out of striking range easily. From there, he caught a kick and swept Curran's other leg out from under him, depositing him on the ground. Curran got up and even managed to put his opponent on his back. But Benavidez once again got to his feet and took Curran down. Prior to the end of the fight, Curran sunk in a solid triangle that almost netted him a victory. But Benavidez slipped out just before the bell.

Joseph Benavidez wins by way of a unanimous decision. He's a very solid fighter.

Next up was the main event of the evening between Miguel Torres and the widely unknown Takeya Mizugaki (in America, anyway). Enough has been said here. Let's get to the fight, which proved to be a very good one.

In the first round, Mizugaki was highly aggressive. Along with this, he seemed to connect with the harder punches when the two got into prolonged exchanges.  ; Further, he threw Torres down at one point when they clinched, demonstrating a significant amount of raw power. Torres began to do a pretty good job of using his jab about midway through the round. Still, based on aggressiveness the challenger probably took the opening stanza.

The second round saw Mizugaki land a ton of hard body shots throughout. That said, Torres began to find some solace in the clinch, landing strong knees in spots throughout the stanza. Further, Mizugaki's power just didn't seem to hurt him.

The third round was once again a good one, with Mizugaki demonstrating his excellent boxing skills. But Torres began to connect from both a distance and the clinch. Eventually, Mizugaki opened up a cut above Torres's eye that caused a momentary stoppage in action. Afterwards, Torres came out guns blazing.

The fourth round saw Torres look for takedowns early on to no avail. He then pulled guard only to watch Mizugaki get up from it. However, his clinch seemed to begin to wear down his opponent some. Along with this, Torres definitely got the better of the striking inside, even if Mizugaki hardly quit.

In the fifth, both fighters came out aggressively. Torres tried to bate Mizugaki into his guard; but his opponent was having none of it. Later, the two clinched along the fence where Torres unleashed a torrent of punches that left Mizugaki dizzy. Later come some hard elbows from the champion. Lots of striking to fini sh things off from both combatants before the bell.

This was an outstanding stand up war. Mizugaki is one tough dude. In the end, though, Torres took this home.

Miguel Torres wins by way of a unanimous decision.

In the end, WEC 40 was a fun night of fights. We got to see a future contender take home victory in Joseph Benavidez. We saw a very game and impressive Ben Henderson come back from being hurt to win with a vengeance. Anthony Njokuani and Raphael Assuncao were also impressive. But this night was about Miguel Torres. For the second time in his career, he was brought to the brink by a very worthy opponent and was found able to deal with the pressure. Looking forward to his next fight with Brian Bowles.

By the way, that Takeya Mizugaki is one tough guy.

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