Faber Impresses in Bantamweight Debut

Faber cut down to 135 pounds to make a run as a bantamweight.

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Urijah Faber Puts Takeya Mizugaki to Sleep in First Round

Much speculation surrounded how a weight cut to 135 pounds would affect Urijah Faber (24-4) on Thursday night at WEC 52, and just like he did his opponent Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-2), he quickly put to rest any doubts regarding the situation. After applying a rear naked choke on Mizugaki late in the first round, Faber put to sleep his opposition to cap off an impressive win in his debut performance at the bantamweight division.

“I felt great, you know. I wanted to make a statement,” Faber said on the WEC Post-Fight Show on VERSUS. “Mizugaki is a very tough dude. He’s gone the distance with some very tough people, and I’m all about finishing fights, you know. That’s what this sport is all about. It’s not about having a game, it’s about proving you’re the man. This is life or death out there. It’s fun, but I wanted to make a statement.”

The action in this fight started with a bit of a stand-up exchange until the duo took it to a clinch on the fence about a minute into the first frame. Both competitors were jockeying for position, keeping the battle a close-range affair. With about 2:15 left in the round, the clinch was broken for a return to stand-up. Faber appeared to be landing the harder of the strikes at this point, and he then shot on his opponent for the first time with just under two minutes remaining. Mizugaki blocked the attempt, but Faber was able to work himself into back control and quickly applied a standing guillotine. He tried to lock in the choke, eventually forcing his opposition to the canvas. He then rolled into a rear naked choke and began to suck the air out of his Japanese counterpart, which immediately began to work. Mizugaki refused to tap out from the choke, but Faber held on to smother him to sleep. At 4:50 of the opening frame, referee Josh Rosenthal was forced to wave off the bout.

“I think I’m the best guy in the division,” Faber stated after the win. “I don’t care when I get to prove that, but I’m going to keep fighting and beating people up.”

As far as the weight loss was concerned, Faber said it was something that worked in his favor.

“I’ve been a really great dietician throughout the years,” he remarked. “I did five years in college (as a wrestler) at 133 pounds for six months out of the year, exactly the same size that I am right now, and that was horrible. This is every couple four months, and it’s actually nice to get back to a really clean diet.”

With the win, Faber looks to get on a steady climb in the bantamweight rankings, and his next professional fight will be his first in the UFC. The WEC and UFC announced an official merger in October, and WEC 53 in December will be the promotion’s last show under that banner.

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