World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres has a new opponent for the April 5 WEC 40 show in Chicago. Brian Bowles has pulled out of the fight with an injury, so Torres will instead defend his title against Japan's Takeya Mizugaki (seen above above defeating Takamaro Watari in 2006).
From a competitive standpoint, this doesn't much change the bout: In my own ranking of the Top 10 bantamweights in MMA, I have Bowles at No. 2 and Mizugaki at No. 5, and there's not a big difference in skill between the two of them. From a marketing standpoint, this probably isn't very good news for the WEC: Bowles is 4-0 in the WEC, so fans are already familiar with him. Mizugaki has never fought in the WEC before.
But while I'd prefer to see Torres vs. Bowles, I like Torres vs. Mizugaki a lot. For starters, I like Mizugaki's attitude toward the sport. In an interview with Sherdog a couple weeks ago, he explained just how hard he's working to make himself a world-class athlete and a well-rounded fighter, and he talked about how much he'd love to fight Torres. He'll get that chance sooner than he thought.