UFC on FUEL TV 8 goes down tonight (Sat., March 2, 2013) from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The mixed martial arts (MMA) card is stacked from top to bottom with serious talent; however, fight fans will be treated to a Bantamweight "Prelims" bout on the under card that features two guys who have been around the sport.
Indeed, Takeya Mizugaki and Bryan Caraway have professional fight careers that include more than twenty fights each. Both men have been fighting since 2005, and along the way, they've been tested in just about every aspect.
Mizugaki -- a fighter with a well-known tenure in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) -- is a man who is comfortable wherever a fight may go. Be it striking or grappling, Mizugaki knows how to handle himself very well, and he's able to inflict damage from just about any position.
Caraway is a fighter whose major skills are centered more around his ground game, but he, too, has also demonstrated that he is willing to give his opponents a stiff challenge no matter where the fight goes. With 15 career submissions in 17 career wins, he can be very dangerous on the ground, but that doesn't mean he isn't a tough fight in the stand up department.
Standing, this fight has all the makings of a pretty fun slugfest. Mizugaki tends to be more of a puncher, as he'll either keep long punches in an opponent's face or get in close to deliver some tight clinch striking. Caraway is far from a technical striker, but he's the kind of hard nosed fighter that will push forward regardless of who is winning the stand up exchanges.
To give you an example of what this striking battle could produce, I'm going to make the bold comparison to the first fight between Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung. These are two men who will look for offense, even if defense has to fall to the wayside, and one of them is clearly a better technician.
Mizugaki would play the role of Jung, where Caraway would play the role of Garcia. Mizugaki will try to keep Caraway at bay with hard range striking and smothering clinch attacks, whereas Caraway will strike back with power shots with bad intentions. Both men could easily get tagged standing, but both have the willpower and heart to keep pressing their opponent until they've won.
What also makes this fight so interesting is the match up on the ground. Mizugaki is a strong and confident grappler with good knowledge of positioning and submission defense. Caraway is a fighter who will punish opponents for their mistakes or make openings of his own by initiating scrambles or maintaining a high offensive output.
Mizugaki will have to mind his P's and Q's on the ground with Caraway -- it's hard to ever feel safe with someone who could submit you at any moment. Takeya has shown throughout his career that he's an excellent grappler both defensively and offensively, so this shouldn't be too tall a task, but it is definitely not one to take lightly.
Caraway will have to do what he usually does if he is to find an opening on Mizugaki. He must maintain a high offensive output to push Mizugaki into getting nervous, meaning he'll either go to a safer position and not attack often or leave himself open for a submission attempt or sweep.
Caraway has made his name off tenacious grappling attacks, and I expect nothing less from him later tonight.
All in all, I believe this fight will be a hotly contested three round decision. Both men are tough enough to not get finished by their opponent standing. And while Caraway may have an offensive edge on the ground, I don't see Mizugaki falling for his attacks. Both of these men may be fighting for their jobs on Saturday, and when that cage door closes, I expect them to fight like they need to make an impression.
Expect a back and forth war, with both men looking good after a hard-fought decision. And, possibly, a little richer for putting on an award-winning UFC on FUEL TV 8 "Fight of the Night" performance.