Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 135 Preview: Cole Escovedo vs. Takeya Mizugaki

So let’s talk about rankings. Specifically, bantamweight rankings. Your top 10 at the moment are the following:

  1. Dominick Cruz
  2. Joseph Benavidez
  3. Brian Bowles
  4. Urijah Faber
  5. Demetrious Johnson
  6. Scott Jorgensen
  7. Miguel Torres
  8. Brad Pickett
  9. Takeya Mizugaki
  10. Masakatsu Ueda

Two of those fighters – Pickett and Ueda – have not been assigned a SILVA score yet. Of the remaining eight, six – Cruz, Benavidez, Bowles, Faber, Johnson, and Torres – have six out of the seven top SILVA scores in the division (the other being Renan Barao). That leaves two fighters who are seemingly vulnerable: Scott Jorgensen, 29.99 SILVA score… and Takeya Mizugaki, 27.56 SILVA score.

The thing about Mizugaki is that it seems like no matter what happens, people regard him highly as a fighter. Take a look at his last seven fights:

  • 4/5/09 – Miguel Torres – Lost by unanimous decision
  • 8/9/09 – Jeff Curran – Won by split decision
  • 12/19/09 – Scott Jorgensen – Lost by unanimous decision
  • 4/24/10 – Rani Yahya – Won by unanimous decision
  • 11/11/10 – Urijah Faber – Lost by technical submission (Rear Naked Choke)
  • 3/3/11 – Reuben Duran – Won by split decision
  • 7/2/11 – Brian Bowles – Lost by unanimous decision

So Mizugaki lost the four fights you would expect him to lose, but in the other three fights, two were wins by split decision. All that was needed was for two judges to have eaten something different for breakfast, and Mizugaki would be 1-6 in his last seven fights. Fight Metric data isn’t much kinder to Mizugaki. Here are the number of Significant Strikes landed by Mizugaki and his last seven opponents:

  • Miguel Torres 144 – Takeya Mizugaki 69
  • Jeff Curran 24 – Takeya Mizugaki 18
  • Scott Jorgensen 59 – Takeya Mizugaki 50
  • Takeya Mizugaki 40 – Rani Yahya 17
  • Urijah Faber 11 – Takeya Mizugaki 7
  • Reuben Duran 67 – Takeya Mizugaki 43
  • Brian Bowles 29 – Takeya Mizugaki 14

Simply put, this is a fighter who is REALLY skating by… the wins against Reuben Duran and Jeff Curran were largely scored by landing timely takedowns. It’s hard to imagine Mizugaki winning on a consistent basis this way.

So what about Mr. Escovedo? Is this his opportunity to become relevant in the bantamweight division again?

The answer is a big, fat “maybe.” It doesn’t help that Escovedo lost two of his three fights prior to entering the UFC, to Michihiro Omigawa and Michael McDonald. In Escovedo’s UFC debut, he wasn’t given any favors by being matched up against 25-1 Renan Barao. Escovedo made it to decision, but it was a pretty clear decision on the side of Barao. What Escovedo has going for him is that, when he wins, it’s usually pretty decisive. Take, for example, a head kick KO of Yoshiro Maeda, or a triangle choke of Steven Siler or Jeff Bedard.

SILVA PREDICTION: COLE ESCOVEDO (27.66) OVER TAKEYA MIZUGAKI (27.56)

What we have here is… a coin flip. If Mizugaki decides to take Escovedo down, he may find himself winning on points, but in danger of being caught in Escovedo’s submission game. Mizugaki may instead want to stand and strike… but as has been shown, Mizugaki does not often out-strike his opponent. It’s an extremely difficult fight to call, which means that I’ll go with SILVA’s pick in Escovedo and hope that the coin lands on the same side.

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