Takeya Mizugaki Sees Bryan Caraway as His Ticket Back to Top-10 UFC Fighters

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IFebruary 28, 2013

TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 06: Takeya Mizugaki attends the UFC press conference at Shinjuku Wald 9 on September 6, 2011 in Tokyo, Japan. The UFC will hold the Japan Tournament on February 26, 2012.  (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)
Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

Takeya Mizugaki is hoping the 11th time is the charm.

Now, to explain the meaning behind that you have to look no further than checking out the long-time UFC and WEC bantamweight's record to see the unusual nature of his resume.

For 10 fights in a row, Mizugaki has bounced back and forth between wins and losses while fighting in the UFC or WEC—an inauspicious record to say the least, and something that the Japanese fighter admits haunts him when he thinks about how some of those defeats could have easily gone the other way.

In reality, Mizugaki should be on a three-fight win streak if not for some bad judging at UFC 144, where he lost a decision to Chris Cariaso in his home country of Japan.  The decision was so bad, in fact, that the UFC paid Mizugaki his win bonus from the show.

While he harbors no harsh feelings after the fact, Mizugaki learned a valuable lesson in that performance, and it's given him a new killer instinct in fights.

"I think, because of that fight (vs. Cariaso), I am more matured as a fighter and I believe became a better fighter," Mizugaki told Bleacher Report.  "Ever since that fight, regardless of if the fight goes to decision or not, I started to believe that Kakutougi (combat sports) is about keep attacking and dominate the opponent. 

"I don't even think about engaging in so-called 'point game' such as avoiding the danger (to be defensive). I just want to show my best offense all the time."

Now, as much as any fighter wants to finish every fight they have in the UFC, Mizugaki knows, realistically, that won't always happen.  The positive way he looks at it as he approaches his next fight at UFC on Fuel 8 is to leave everything he has in the cage, for all 15 minutes.

If that happens and the judges still don't give him the nod, Mizugaki refuses to live with regret.

"To me, the most important thing about fight is to use all my ability. If I can give everything I got in the Octagon, then even if the fight went to decision, I won't feel any regret," said Mizugaki.

Throughout his career with Zuffa (between the UFC and WEC), Mizugaki has faced a who's who list of competitors at 135 pounds.  From top-10 fighters to championship contenders, Mizugaki has never backed down from a challenge and it won't start in 2013, either.

But because of his record bouncing between wins and losses, Mizugaki knows that to get back to fights against competitors like Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles, he has to face and defeat opponents like up-and-comers such as Bryan Caraway this Saturday in Japan.

Caraway only moved to bantamweight recently and he's looking to get a big win on his resume by beating Mizugaki.  On the flip side, however, Mizugaki is looking at Caraway as his entry back to facing the best of the best at bantamweight.

"I consider this upcoming fight to be sort of like a qualifier to get a right to fight top fighters in this weight class," said Mizugaki.

"I want to win this fight, and I want to win against top fighters and make 2013 a fantastic year for me."

Mizugaki will have his chance when he faces Bryan Caraway during the UFC on Fuel 8 preliminary fights on Facebook airing Saturday night from Japan at 7 p.m. ET.


Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.