Once upon a time, Takeya Mizugaki was a fighter who earned respect for his fighting spirit, but seemed to lose as many fights as he won.
The Kanagawa, Japan native still brings it every time he steps into the Octagon. But now he's winning most of his fights.
In a solid standup battle at UFC Fight Night 33, Mizugaki took it to Nam Phan over the first two rounds in Brisbane, Australia. Then he held off a furious Phan rally in round three to take a unanimous decision in his bantamweight bout. The judges' scores were 29-28, 29-28, and 30-28.
That marked four straight wins for Mizugaki (19-7-2) and five in his past six fights.
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In the opening round, Mizugaki looked sharp, mixing up his strikes and landing his punches to both the head and the body. In round two, Mizugaki connect on a huge left and opened up a gigantic flurry of punches. Phan not only managed to withstand the barrage, but stayed on his feet the entire time.
After the second round, Phan's corner pointedly told him his career was on the line. Phan fought liked it, as he took the third round convincingly by rocking Mizugaki on several occasions. He couldn't get the finish he needed, but given the UFC's propensity to reward fighters who put on exciting fights, Phan just may have earned himself another chance.
Phan dropped to 18-12, with three losses in his past four fights.