Bantamweight contender Takeya Mizugaki won his fifth straight, defeating #10 ranked Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision at UFC 173. Though Rivera threatened at stages in the fight through his powerful strikes, Mizugaki was dominant en route to the decision victory, and rocked Rivera in the first round with much improved stand-up.
Mizugaki has been on a roll as of late, winning five in a row in the division which has set him up for a run at the title in 2014. With TJ Dillashaw fighting Renan Barao for the title tonight and Raphael Assuncao and Dominick Cruz in the mix, it may take another win for Mizugaki to fight for the title, but he is certainly impressing and putting himself in the title picture with his 5-0 win streak.
Now 20-7-2 as a professional, Takeya is a big draw in Japan and could be the man that resurrects the MMA picture in his home country. Ranked #6 coming into the fight with Rivera, expect to see Mizugaki in the top five when the rankings are updated.
Here is how the fight went down:
The winner of this fight could easily be fighting for the title next. Mizugaki has won his last four, while Rivera is unbeaten in his last six. Rivera has been knocking bantamweight fighters’ heads off since joining the division. Both fighters are top 10 and have a ton of momentum, this should be a fun contest between two of the most talented fighters at 135lbs.
Round 1 – Rivera tags him with a big 1-2, that left hook looked particularly heavy. Rivera then snuck in a counter as Mizugaki came forward with a combination. Short right by Mizugaki. Takedown attempt by Mizugaki easily stuffed. Takeya with a quick jab, then a left leg kick. Big right, then an uppercut to the body by Rivera. Nice right by Mizugaki. Mizugaki has him rocked with a big combination! That right was heavy! Just as Rivera was starting to get an advantage, Mizugaki cracks him with a right. He’s in Rivera’s guard now, Rivera doing a good job of nullifying Mizugaki’s attack now. That was big. Short shots by Mizugaki, who now has half guard. Mizugaki posturing up and landing heavy blows. Rivera works his way up though, Mizugaki has him against the cage in the clinch but great job at recovering. He was essentially let off the hook there. Double underhooks, Mizugaki trying to drag it to the mat but unable to so far. Rivera does a great job with his defence then gets a takedown of his own, Mizugaki making his way up then eating a knee to the body. Mizugaki reverses the clinch and lands a knee of his own. 1 minute left. They separate and Mizugaki lands a short blow. Big leg kick by Rivera, then a jab. Great duck under by Rivera as Mizugaki comes in, and he has the Japanese fighter against the cage in the clinch, but unable to get the fight to the ground. Knees from Rivera. Nice takedown by the American, and some big elbows. Heavy shots by Rivera, then Mizugaki gets up and attempts some shots of his own but great head movement by Rivera, who gets another takedown to end the round. Fun round. Only a 10-9 due to Rivera’s success towards the end of the round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Mizugaki.
Round 2 – Leg kick from Rivera. Body shot by Mizugaki, followed by a right, lovely combination. He’s looking great on the feet. He misses with that combination, nice movement from Rivera. Big head kick by Rivera, who’s swinging with reckless abandon. He tags Mizugaki coming forward, biting on his mouth piece and throwing heavy blows. Mizugaki tagged him a couple of times but Rivera did well there. Mizugaki has a cut under his left eye. Great slip and rip from Rivera, and another. He’s taking over now. Mizugaki with a takedown which is countered by Rivera, who gets to his feet. He’s going for a guillotine now, but Mizugaki has half guard and it doesn’t look too tight from this position. Mizugaki now on top in half guard, and that was a callous mistake from Rivera. Mizugaki trying to control the American from the top, he’s against the cage and landing short shots to the body. Both fighters are breathing heavy it seems. Mizugaki now takes the back of Rivera and has one hook in, but the cage is preventing any real danger. Rivera looks frustrated. Less than a minute remain and Mizugaki has taken this round from him due to Rivera’s own mistake. He’s working the face crank but Rivera won’t be submitted from this. The round ends with Mizugaki in back mount.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Mizugaki (20-18 Mizugaki).
Round 3 – Rivera needs a finish and he’s more than capable. Body kick by Rivera, countered by a left from Mizugaki. Mizugaki attempts a 1-2 but misses both strikes. Nice right by Rivera there. Each fighter are landing in the pocket. Mizugaki with a straight left catches Rivera. Rivera got caught with a counter from Mizugaki there, attempted a right kick and got caught with a straight right that dropped him. Mizugaki in his full guard now and Rivera should be in desperation mode. Mizugaki landing ground and pound, but Rivera doing a good job in his guard at stopping anything significant coming through. Half of the round remains and Rivera needs a finish. Nothing much to report here, Mizugaki inactive from top position and he’s easing his way to victory. 90 seconds left. Rivera is frustrated here, but he needs to work his way up rather than wait for Lavigne to rescue him. A minute remains for Rivera’s hopes at fighting for the title and Lavigne finally stands them up. Rivera throwing haymakers. Both are throwing heavy, Mizugaki urging him on! Both land. 30 seconds. Mizugaki fakes the shot and lands the right, his right eye is bothering him. Big left by Rivera, he’s throwing big haymakers at the end of the fight. Great finish! Rivera went all out. Too little too late for sure, but great to see that sort of desperation. Fun fight.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Mizugaki (30-27 Mizugaki.
Result: Mizugaki via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2).
Rivera threatened at times but Mizugaki was dominant in most of the fight. A great victory, his fifth in the row, and expect to see him fighting for the belt in the near future. Rivera put in a valiant effort, but Mizugaki outclassed him. His stand-up looked great.
Here are the results for the full card so far:
– Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2).
– James Krause def. Jamie Varner via TKO (retirement) at 5:00 in first round.
– Michael Chiesa def. Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision (30-26 x2, 30-27).
– Tony Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno via knockout (punch) at 4:06 in first round.
– Chris Holdsworth def. Chico Camus via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
– Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta via submission (d’arce choke) at 0:57 in second round.
– Vinc Pichel def. Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28).
– Sam Sicilia def. Aaron Phillips via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27).
– Li Jingliang def. David Michaud via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).
Check out our play-by-play for the full event here.