(Torres connects with Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 40. Courtesy of Zuffa, LLC.)
“For a while there, for about a good year and a half, two years, I was considered to be the top guy and I didn’t know how to play that role very well,” says Torres, “It was new to me.”
After losing the WEC Bantamweight Championship to Brian Bowles in August 2009, Torres took stock and decided to leave his training comfort zone. He slept in back rooms and unfamiliar hotels from Las Vegas to New Jersey leading up to the first fight on his comeback tour, a tangle with Joseph Benavidez at WEC 47.
“It was a huge part of me getting back to how I got started,” said Torres of being away from home for his camp and resulting discomfort.
Torres worked with famed muay Thai instructor Mark Dellagrotte, WBO/WBA Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto, ADCC Champion Robert Drysdale and UFC lightweight Kurt Pellegrino. He added new components to his preparation too: he “actually” dieted and emphasized strength and conditioning. Bowles beat him soundly, so Torres armed himself like never before.
“The whole camp’s focused on putting new things together into my arsenal. My old game is there, if a fight is close and things get sticky, I can always make a fight crazy by just being naturally aggressive and doing what I do,” says Torres, “But I’m trying to focus more on being patient and using my timing and picking my shots and not just going out there and making chaos all the time. I’m still aggressive, but the whole thing is working on my timing and being healthy for the fight—mentally and physically.”
Stand-up isn’t the only thing giving Torres confidence coming into this bout with the Team Alpha Male representative.
“I made a career out of beating wrestlers on my back,” he says. “Very few guys in MMA have a guard the way I have a guard. A lot of guys say the guard is dead, but no one attacks the way I attack from my back.”
With the WEC hitting pay-per-view at WEC 48 next month, Torres’ goal is to recapture the 135-crown by the end of the year, preferably on pay-per-view.
“Every time I go out there and fight I put on shows so we can have that kind of draw, but now that we’re actually on pay-per-view, it changes a lot of things of my mental state,” says Torres. “I know every fright is going to be very important from now on. Every decision I make is going to decide what happens in my future.”
The biggest change to Torres mental state after suffering the first knockout of his career is simple word choice.
“Won’t is cocky. Now its can’t. The biggest thing is I can’t lose this fight. I got to do everything in my ability to not lose that fight,” says Torres. “Won’t is a bit of arrogance, so I’m more of a can’t person.”