Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it. For example, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Robbie Lawler may have been born in San Diego, but few would recognize him as a Californian.
Indiana certainly has produced some terrific mixed martial artists over the years. While several combatants from the “Hoosier State” have found their way to major MMA organizations, one stands above the rest: former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres.
Born in East Chicago, Indiana, Torres took up various forms of martial arts before finally settling on a career in MMA. A protégé of the late Carlson Gracie, he rose through the regional scene, won 32 of his first 33 fights and singed with the WEC in 2007. His record had improved to 33-1 by the time he challenged Chase Beebe for the WEC bantamweight championship and submitted him with a guillotine choke. Torres defended the 135-pound crown on three occasions -- he beat Yoshiro Maeda, Manny Tapia and Takeya Mizugaki in succession -- before suffering back-to-back losses to Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez. He arrived in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in February 2011.
Torres never achieved the stardom for which many felt he was destined. Now 35, he has gone 6-6 across his past 12 appearances -- a period that includes UFC losses to Demetrious Johnson and Michael McDonald, along with World Series of Fighting defeats to Marlon Moraes and Pablo Alfonso. Despite his late-career swoon, Torres’ accomplishments speak for themselves.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chris Lytle, Dave Herman, Jon Fitch, Eddie Wineland, Darren Elkins