In a bout to determine which fighter would stay relevant in the WEC Bantamweight title picture, former featherweight contender Jeff Curran’s losing streak was extended to four fights as Takeya Mizugaki won his first WEC victory with a split decision win.
Curran starts off by catching a low kick, but Mizugaki sprawls and fights off the single-leg attempt while Curran refuses to let it go. Curran has the single-leg for over two minutes, but Mizugaki will not go down, and eventually switches Currans back against the cage before tripping Curran down. Mizugaki throws big punches and elbows, but Curran explodes off an armbar attempt and sweeps Mizugaki. Curran has the back briefly, but Mizugaki turns into Currans guard and throws strikes as the round ends.
Curran stings Mizugaki with a punch to start round two, and Mizugaki responds by throwing hard leg kicks. Curran throws high kicks, but Mizugaki plows forward and clinches. Mizugaki muscles Curran to the ground. Mizugaki postures up to strike while Curran tries to push off Mizugaki’s thighs, but ends up back in guard. Curran cranks Mizugaki in a one-arm guillotine when Mizugaki was pushing them toward the cage. The round ends with Mizugaki waiting out the choke.
Both men throw to start the final round before Mizugaki once again gets the takedown. Curran fishes for guillotines and triangles, but Mizugaki slips them all. Currans constant activity doesn’t give Mizugaki time to tee off with ground-and-pound. In the final 30 seconds, Curran finally hits the sweep and gets his legs up, locking in a tight triangle. Mizugaki desperately pulls, but Curran rolls on top, working both the arm and the triangle. Mizugaki rolls again, and despite the triangle being locked in, somehow is able to survive until the bell. The last flurry by Curran is unable to seal the deal however, as Mizugaki’s dominance in the first two rounds gives him the split decision victory. The crowd unexpectedly voices their approval of the decision.
The bout was another firm example of the scoring standards of the UFC and the WEC. Before the final minute of round three, Mizugaki was clearly winning the fight, but Currans final moves came the closest to producing a finish to the fight. Much like the Uno-Fisher fight at UFC 99, the final-minute explosion by one fighter wasn’t enough to overcome the relative monotony of the first two rounds. While this finish wasn’t nearly as controversial as Uno-Fisher, the importance of takedowns in the eyes of American judges has just been reinforced.