Manny Tapia was forced to withdraw this evening from a highly anticipated bout against WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres (32-1) because of a knee injury sustained while training for their showdown at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif., on June 1.
MMAmania.com has learned that Yoshiro Maeda (23-4-2) has agreed to replace Tapia on short notice and take on Torres at WEC 34: "Faber vs. Pulver" for the 135-pound strap.
Maeda made his WEC debut in Albuquerque, N.M., knocking out Charlie Valencia with a body kick in the first round. The Japanese fighter is a decorated Pancrase and DEEP veteran. In fact, Maeda was the first Pancrase featherweight titleholder.
He had some trouble competing under the Pride FC banner (two of his four losses); however, Maeda has not lost since being submitted by Joe Pearson back in 2006.
It was announced today actually that Maeda would face Damacio Page. That bout appears to have quickly been scratched, however, to ensure a worthy opponent for Torres.
Torres is perhaps the most talented mixed martial arts champion on the planet who somehow remained relatively unknown until just recently. His last time out he overwhelmed Chase Beebe to capture the WEC 135-pound crown back in February.
He has not lost a fight since 2003 and has never been stopped in 33 professional bouts. On the other hand, he finishes more than 70 percent of his opponents.
Tapia-Torres was scheduled to be the co-main event of the evening alongside the showdown between WEC Featherweight Champion, Urijah Faber, and former UFC lightweight champion, Jens Pulver.
Therefore, expect the Torres fight with Maeda to also receive high profile billing ... it's a nice scrap.
WEC 34: "Faber vs. Pulver" is set to air on the Versus network at 9 p.m. ET on June 1.
Thanks to MMAmania.com staff writer Chris Cosme who contributed to this report.