If Jose Torres has learned anything as a young mixed martial artist, it is that practice makes perfect.
The flyweight prospect used a lengthy amateur career to hone his skills before taking his first professional fight. Since turning pro in early 2016, he has passed his first four tests with flying colors, scoring three finishes and a unanimous decision. The unbeaten Chicago-based flyweight has been touted by some analysts as the most decorated amateur fighter in MMA history. Torres fought a total of 26 times as an amateur: After he lost his first fight by split decision, he went on to record 25 consecutive victories. It is rare to see a mixed martial artist with such a prolonged and successful amateur run, but Torres credits his longtime coach with teaching him patience as a virtue.
“When I first started training at Combat-Do, there was a group of us starting in the amateurs together, and our coach Bob Schirmer said, ‘I want to do something different with you guys. If you want to fight for this gym, then you need to have 20 amateur fights,’” Torres told Sherdog.com.
During his development, the man they call “Shorty” became a two-time bantamweight gold medalist as the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World Championships, a five-day tournament staged annually since 2014 that features aspiring fighters from more than 30 countries. Participants engage in one fight per day and must weigh-in every time they compete.
In addition to his MMA pursuits, Torres has compiled more than 50 fights between kickboxing and muay Thai. The well-rounded experiences have proved invaluable. He also wrestled collegiately at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, and McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, earning a bachelor’s degree in leadership and sports and exercise science.
“Once I got the scholarship, my coach told me my goal was no longer to get 20 fights. It was to graduate before I can turn professional,” Torres said. “I knew it would be wise to have a degree to fall back on if fighting didn’t work out. It puts a lot less pressure on the fighting.”
After completing his degree and winning his second IMMAF world championship, Torres was one of the hottest prospects on the MMA scene. He made his pro debut under the Titan Fighting Championship flag, recorded two decisive wins and then downshifted to 125 pounds to challenge for the promotion’s flyweight crown. Torres stopped Abdiel Velazquez with second-round punches to capture the vacant title at Titan 40 in August. The 24-year-old then turned his attention to Pedro Nobre, a well-traveled Brazilian Top Team rep with 18 professional victories on his resume. The moment was not too big for Torres, as the undefeated champion needed only 86 seconds to cut down the Brazilian with a pair of brutal right hands at Titan 43 on Jan. 21.
Prior to his showdown with Nobre, Torres supplemented his work at Combat-Do by training at Muscle Pharm in Denver, where he rubbed shoulders with some of MMA’s most accomplished fighters.
“I was able to roll around with T.J. Dillashaw, Joseph Benavidez and Tim Elliott,” said Torres, who aided Dillashaw in his preparation for John Lineker at UFC 207. “To be able to train with one of the best 135-pound fighters in the world and working with Duane Ludwig was the only reason I was able to do the things I was able to do to Nobre.”
Torres believed the quick knockout was enough to break down the doors to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He claims his manager called UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby after the fight to gauge interest. Torres and his handlers were surprised by the response.
“Shelby told me that you are good but you did too well in your fight,” he said. “The UFC wanted to see me struggle and come back and face adversity.”
The revelation only served to motivate the young Chicagoan further, and he has since begun training at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Torres will seek to become a two-division champion when he challenges Farkhad Sharipov for the bantamweight title at Titan 44 on May 19 in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
“I decided to give the UFC what they want,” Torres said, “so I wanted to give myself adversity and bump up to 135 [pounds] and challenge for that belt, as well.”
Torres has his next few months mapped out. He plans to finish up his tour at Jackson-Wink MMA before returning to Muscle Pharm for six weeks to once again link arms with Ludwig. Torres will then close out his camp and finish his weight cut at Combat-Do in Chicago. Though he has a second Titan Fighting Championship title in his sights, he finds his drive to succeed elsewhere.
“For me, it’s about getting up and doing something that inspires other people, and it makes me so happy,” Torres said. “I am a shorty just trying to get out of the neighborhood.”