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11/9/10 7:04 AM
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Takeya Mizugaki holds former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber in the highest regard and understands what a win over the Team Alpha Male founder could do to raise his profile in America.

The Japanese standout will welcome Faber to the 135-pound division in the WEC 52 “Faber vs. Mizugaki” headliner on Thursday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. In “The California Kid,” Mizugaki does not see a man who has lost three times in the span of five fights. He respects the history Faber carries into the cage with him.

“Urijah Faber is the face of the WEC,” Mizugaki said during a Nov. 1 teleconference to promote the event. “I feel like I’m challenging a champion. That’s the feeling I have facing Urijah.”

Faber -- who owns a 2007 submission victory over current WEC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz -- has never before competed as a bantamweight. The 31-year-old last appeared at WEC 48 in April, when he dropped a one-sided unanimous decision to reigning featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif.

Mizugaki believes he has an edge in the stand-up department.

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