Miguel Torres sports 32 finishes on his resume. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Miguel Torres plans to blend his old-school brand of toughness with a somewhat newer reliance on discipline and patience, as he presses forward under the World Series of Fighting banner.
Having lost three of his last four fights, the former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion will take on Pablo Alfonso in a 135-pound undercard battle at World Series of Fighting 6 on Saturday at the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Fla. The prelims will stream live and free on Sherdog.com.
“I’m looking to put on a good show and entertain, not to be safe and technical,” Torres said. “You have to go out there and put it on the line, but you have to pick your times instead of just going out there and being a wild animal.”
He feels confident this strategy will prove effective against “The Hurricane,” an MMA Masters product who has won his last two bouts inside the Championship Fighting Alliance organization.
“I think it’s going to be very exciting on the ground,” Torres said, “and I think I’ll also have the ability to pick him apart standing up and look for the knockout.”
Now 32, Torres owns a 40-6 record in a professional career that dates back to when he was 17 years old. The world of MMA was quite a bit different for a bantamweight back then.
“When I first started fighting, I fought out of my weight class for about eight years,” he said. “I fought in garages and clubs and bars, where the weight class was 130-160 [pounds]. I was literally 130 pounds.”
His youth benefitted him in the cage but did not prove compatible with the environment.
“After my fights,” Torres said, “I’d get kicked out of the bar because I was too young to be there.”
If proper venues were difficult to come by in East Chicago, Ind., where Torres grew up and still resides today, professional training was even more of a challenge.
“We used to have to put Marco Ruas and Mario Sperry tapes in the VCR and learn moves like that,” he said, “or I’d watch Shooto fights on AOL with my dial-up connection.”
By 2009, Torres had built a stellar 37-1 record and left the days where the “only rules were no hair pulling, no biting and no nut shots” behind him. He had won the WEC bantamweight belt and successfully defended it three times. However, he was still training the way he always had, as his own coach. His training camp consisted of a series of “open calls” to other fighters in the area.
“If you showed up,” Torres said, “I’d spar you until you couldn’t go anymore.”
This self-described “wild” approach to mixed martial arts started to become problematic for Torres, who back-to-back fights to Brian Bowles at WEC 40 and Joseph Benavidez at WEC 47. As a result, he decided to train with Firas Zahabi at the Tristar Gym in Montreal. There, “a different, smarter way to go out there and win a fight” was taught.
“It was very smart and very technical and against a lot of my instincts,” Torres said.
This, too, garnered Torres mixed results, earning him victories over Charlie Valencia at WEC 51, Antonio Banuelos at UFC 126 and Nick Pace at UFC 139. He also suffered defeats to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 130, Michael McDonald at UFC 145 and Marlon Moraes at WSOF 1. All three are among the best in the world in their respective weight classes, with Johnson now holding the Ultimate Fighting Championship crown at 125 pounds. Still, Torres, a decorated former champion, was far from satisfied with his efforts and realized something more needed to be done.
The Carlson Gracie protégé has not competed since he lost to Moraes by split decision in November. He has since returned home, back to his roots, armed with the strength of recent experiences.
“I got to work on a lot of technical skills I didn’t have [at Tristar],” Torres said, “and I’ve been able to put those to use with my old style. I’ve been able to meld the two and just do it my own way now.”
Torres has developed this hybrid style at his own gym, Torres Martial Arts, in Griffith, Ind., which is walking distance from his home. In addition to honing his own skills, Torres instructs more than 300 students, which has brought about a more intense focus on why he fights in the first place.
“My gym’s doing well now. I make money through my business, and I don’t have to fight,” he said. “I fight because I want to and because the fire’s still there. I’m still hungry, and I want to show that I’m still dangerous.”
Being home and fighting for himself has enabled Torres to clear away much of the noise and distractions that go along with having been a world champion.
“When I lost that title, I was so focused on the belt I lost track of who I was as a fighter,” he said. “I was so enamored [with] the glory I lost track of what was most important of all, which is to win. I’ve learned I have to go out there and win no matter what. Now, I’m ready to go out there and destroy.”