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WEC 40 preview and predictions for 'Torres vs Mizugaki'

WEC 40: "Torres vs. Mizugaki" is set to go off from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Ill., this Sunday night (April 5), airing live on the Versus network beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

Bantamweight champion and Chicago-area native Miguel Torres will defend his title in the main event against Japanese import Takeya Mizugaki -- a late replacement for the injured Brian Bowles.

There are several other exciting match-ups featured on the card, too, including a 135-pound number one contender eliminator match between Jeff Curran and Joseph Benavidez, as well as two other high profile lightweight bouts that will be featured on the Versus telecast.

Here’s the full WEC 39 lineup:

Main event:

WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres (35-1) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (11-2-2)

Main card (Televised):

135 lbs.: Jeff Curran (29-10-1) vs. Joseph Benavidez (9-0)
155 lbs.: Shane Roller (5-1) vs. Ben "Smooth" Henderson (8-1)
155 lbs.: Raphael Assuncao (12-1) vs. Jameel "The Sergeant" Massouh (20-4)

Under card (May not be broadcast):

155 lbs.: Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski (30-12) vs. Anthony Njokuani (9-2)
135 lbs.: Dominick Cruz (12-1) vs. Ivan Lopez (9-0)
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson (13-2) vs. Diego "The Gun" Nunes (12-0)
145 lbs.: Wagnney Fabiano (11-1) vs. Fredson Paixao (8-2)
135 lbs.: Rani Yahya (12-4) vs. Eddie Wineland (14-5-1)
135 lbs.: Akitoshi "Ironman" Tamura (12-7-2) vs. Manny "The Mangler" Tapia (10-1-1)
145 lbs.: Rafael Dias (11-5-1) vs. Mike Budnik (8-2)

It’s looks like we’re in for another solid night of fights from the WEC. To help get you better prepared for fight night, we took a closer look at each of the five main card bouts and provided our highly unofficial predictions below.

Check it out:

WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres (35-1) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (11-2-2)

Originally set to defend his title against Brian Bowles, the 135-pound champion Torres will instead face promotional newcomer Takeya Mizugaki in his homecoming.

Mizugaki, a 10-fight Shooto veteran, has won his last five fights under the GCM promotion in Japan. He has some decent power in his hands, and he does well controlling his opponent in his fights. He's a young 25 years old though, and he's never fought on U.S. soil or on a stage this big.

This match-up doesn't appear to bode well for him on paper.

It's a rather unenviable task for Mizugaki in the first place to have to step up on a big stage in America for the first time against a guy like Torres in front of not only his countrymen, but his hometown fans as well. Basically, a loss here for the champ would go down as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the WEC.

Don't look for that to happen.

Look for Torres to dominate this fight on his feet in the early going, using his reach and that patented jab to score points and inflict damage. Mizugaki is just going to be outmatched in this fight no matter where it goes, but when he gets into trouble, he'll probably try to take the champ to the mat.

That, however, is like picking the blue poison over the red poison. Once that happens, look for Torres' killer instinct to kick in, allowing him to finish off the Japanese import pretty early on.

The only way Torres loses this fight is if he gets too cocky, underestimates Mizugaki, and tries a bunch of off the wall stuff in order to put on a more exciting fight for his hometown fans. Still, even if that happens, which it won't, Mizugaki will still have to do what at least 39 other fighters have failed to, which is knockout or submit Torres, because it's almost impossible to think of a scenario where Torres loses on the judges scorecards.

Final Prediction: Miguel Torres via second round submission

Jeff Curran (29-10-1) vs. Joseph Benavidez (9-0)

This is a great match-up that will determine the next number one contender at 135 pounds. Curran's going to be a beast at 135, and Benavidez is as close to a Urijah Faber clone as we've seen in the WEC so far. I'm really excited for this fight.

Benavidez wasn't overly impressive in his WEC debut in December, scoring a unanimous decision win over Danny Martinez, but his destruction of Junya Kudo at DREAM 5 certainly was. He tacked on the sixth submission win of his career that night in Japan.

A training partner of Faber's, he gets world class sparring on a daily basis from a man who's already defeated Curran. He's lightning quick, has a wide variety of submissions, and he comes at you from weird angles and pulls off crazy, athletic moves all the time in his fights, much like Faber.

However, he doesn't have the experience on the big stage or against world class competition like Faber does, and that showed in his performance at WEC 37. Still, he's an extremely dangerous opponent for Curran, whose competing as a bantamweight for the first time in this fight.

In his last fight at 145 pounds, Curran took current featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown the distance, albeit in losing fashion, but given Brown's last couple of performances, that's a pretty impressive feat. Brown is one of the stronger 145 pounders in the world. If Curran was able to hang with him for three rounds, he should have a pretty decent advantage in the strength department against guys 10 pounds lighter.

Curran's great at grabbing his opponent and controlling them with his wrestling base. He's not going to knock Benavidez out in this fight, but if he can get a hold of the squirmy 24 year old, he could easily use positioning and control to grind out a decision or even power his way into a submission win.

It's not going to be an easy fight for Curran. Benavidez is ridiculously athletic and he provides some problems for Curran on his feet and in the scramble. But Curran is on a mission to face Miguel Torres. As long as he doesn't overlook Benavidez in his quest to do that, his experience and size should prevail in this one.

Final Prediction: Curran via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Shane Roller (5-1) vs. Ben "Smooth" Henderson (8-1)

Both of these guys have been very impressive thus far in the WEC. Roller -- a three-time All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University -- had back-to-back first round submission wins over Mike Budnik and Todd Moore in his first two fights with the promotion, while Henderson scored a second round submission win over the very difficult to beat Anthony Njokuani in his promotional debut.

Both guys are coming into this fight high on confidence with solid winning streaks as well. Roller is probably a little more versatile with his attack and probably has an advantage on the feet to go along with the clear edge in wrestling, but Henderson is extremely dangerous on the ground with six career submission wins.

This is clearly a match that could go either way. Both guys should be very confident in the grappling department, even though Roller should have a decisive edge in strength and wrestling with his amateur credentials from Oklahoma State.

Look for Roller to use that wrestling base to impose his will on Henderson with takedowns and position control. As long as he can avoid being submitted from the top position, he should be able to pull off his sixth straight win either by decision or some kind of ground and pound stoppage.

Final Prediction: Shane Roller via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Raphael Assuncao (12-1) vs. Jameel "The Sergeant" Massouh (20-4)

This is a battle of two men making their first appearances in the WEC. Assuncao, brother of UFC veteran Junior, has made his name on the smaller circuit with wins over the likes of Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, James Birsley and others.

He's smaller than his brother, but just as athletic and very slick with submissions. Massouh is a little bit more experienced and will have a clear size advantage over Assuncao, but he's probably not as talented as the Brazilian.

This won't be an easy fight, but Assuncao is expected to win. Massouh is a tough dude, with a nasty killer instinct and a long list of ways to finish you. He's definitely a dangerous fighter, but Assuncao was brought into the WEC to be a contender at 155 pounds. A loss to Massouh would be a big disappointment.

Look for a very competitive, high-paced fight early on, but look for Assuncao to steal a submission win sometime in the second or third rounds.

Final Prediction: Raphael Assuncao via second round submission

That's a wrap, folks. Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions on WEC 40 in the comments section below. And be sure to visit us tomorrow night for all the "Torres vs. Mizugaki" coverage and discussion you can handle ... it's going to be a fun night!

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