A fight that inexplicably never happened in the WEC finally comes to fruition this September 27, 2015 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The Match Up
Bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki 20-9-2 vs. George Roop 15-11-1
Bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki -235 vs. George Roop +195
3 Things You Should Know
1. Mizugaki is still young enough to be effective, but he'll need a sharper approach if he wants to keep his highly qualified gatekeeper status.
Mizugaki had his window. On April 5th, 2009, when Miguel Torres was seen as unstoppable because we just didn't know any better, Mizugaki put on his career performance, nearly besting Torres in a five round pseudo-classic. Since then it hasn't been downhill. But it has been uphill for the Shooto veteran out of Kanigawa, Japan.
Mizugaki was always well equipped to deal with the transition to North American MMA. With his strong wrestling base to compliment his technical, sturdy boxing, he's forged a solid career for himself. After beating Francisco Rivera to cap off a five fight UFC winning streak, it looked like he might actually sniff the proverbial gold once more. Unfortunately he became the only fighter to welcome Dominick Cruz back in the cage, and drawing the Funk Master this passed April was just plain old fashioned tough luck. This time he gets a spiritual equal in George Roop. I had to actively look at the fight finder to make sure this wasn't a WEC rematch.
2. Roop is not just an underrated fighter, but an underrated story. For as formulaic as these previews can be, it's easy to looked passed the colorful, sometimes tragic histories of these men.
Nobody would have judged Roop if he had retired in 2009. Getting the UFC pink slip was nothing compared to losing his eldest child. Instead of staring too long into the abyss, Roop resolved to move forward with a career few people predicted him to have a stake in. He's been scratching, and clawing his way for respect ever since.
While Roop suffered a tough loss to Rob Font in his last outing, he's a respectable 3-2 overall in his last five. It's a good fight for two mentally strong veterans who have experienced these full tilt boogies before.
3. Remember the last time Roop fought a heavily favored Japanese fighter? Hatsu Hioki sure does, despite notching a victory.
Both men project to experience scares of consciousness.
For Roop, his height allows him to chamber high kicks with more economy. It's probably why the Korean Zombie made such an awful calculation (in addition to thinking he would just walk through this stuff). He's incredibly dangerous on the feet for this reason. He doesn't use his reach well, but it's a byproduct of his boxing instincts; he knows how to be effective at range, but only when attacking. He kind of brawls with his punches, which leaves him exposed. Unlike Cub Swanson, Mizugaki doesn't have the power to send Roop's jaw into the hot dog trays, but he's not pillow-fisted either.
One of the things I've always respected about Mizugaki's game is that he has a great mind for pace. He has a tendency to brawl, but he brawls to a rhythm that isn't taxing to his body. Nor does he overcommit. He just keeps a steady diet of hooks to the head, body, head, rinse, repeat. The sheer activity present to his style is what makes him vulnerable.
Because he moves forward a lot, I don't see Roop landing those high kicks, but if he's able to sneak even just one through, that could be it for Miz.
I like Mizugaki's pressure on the feet. I also think he'll attempt a lot of takedowns once Roop looks to establish himself at range where Mizugaki might feel a little uncomfortable with the height gap. Takeya Mizugaki by Decision.