Miguel Torres may no longer be the WEC champion, but the majority of questions at Thursday’s conference call involved him in some way. Torres joined bantamweight champion Brian Bowles, Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez in promotion for WEC 47 on March 6 in Columbus, Ohio. The event will air live on Versus at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Torres was upset by Brian Bowles at WEC 42. But Bowles’ victory still hasn’t sunk in for the assembled media. The champion was questioned more about the Torres fight than his upcoming bout with Dominick Cruz. Even Cruz was questioned about the Bowles-Torres fight.
The following are the condensed thoughts of the fighters and WEC staff.
(Bowles vs. Torres at WEC 42. Courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)
The WEC bantamweight champion shocked the world when he knocked out Torres in the first round. Maybe the surprise was overwrought. A no-nonsense fighter, Bowles (8-0) has finished every opponent he has faced. On March 6, he will meet Cruz for the WEC title.
On the perception that he hit Torres with a lucky punch – I don’t know what a lucky punch is. You’re out there fighting and throwing punches and you’re trying to hit them, so I don’t see how that’s lucky. I understand that when somebody is as big an underdog as I was and he was a dominant champion that people (expect something different). Urijah (Faber) was a dominant champion. He gets beat (by Mike Brown at WEC 36) and people don’t know what to do or what to say. Was it a fluke? Then Brown proved it wasn’t. I just have to keep on winning.
On Dominick Cruz – The only thing I have to do right now is defend my title. He’s the type of guy who boxes you, takes you down and scores. We will stand it in there and slug it out. I’m sure he will try to take me down and I will try to take him down. There will be openings for punches and submissions.
On his first title defense – I’m excited. This is my first title. I haven’t had a chance to fight anywhere else than Vegas. (Columbus, Ohio) is kind of close to where I am from. So I am excited. I try to stay grounded and keep doing what I do. If I let stuff go to my head, I might change. I don’t want to be that guy
On training – I broke my hand (against Torres). I couldn’t train except to do all I could to keep my cardio up. As soon as I got back (from injury) I went to training camp and trained to fight Cruz. I had to line up sparring partners to fight like him. I looked at his tendencies.
Humble and well-spoken, Cruz (14-1) has some experience against undefeated fighters. He handed Benavidez his first loss at WEC 42. Cruz’ lone loss was to Urijah Faber for the featherweight title at WEC 26. Cruz is 4-0 at 135 pounds, but all four bouts went to decision.
On not finishing recent fights – I go into every fight with the mentality to finish my opponent. I feel that in every fight I’ve rocked them or hurt them somewhere. I know I have power in my hands and I have a lot of skills to finish a fight. You don’t get “Fight of the Night” bonuses by trying to skim by on points.
On Bowles’s win over Torres – Brian Bowles has good power in his hands. He hit a calculated counter from the jab. You can see he went over that in camp. I don’t take anything away from him. People can say what they want, but you know what you’ve done to prepare for fights.
On training – I feel in every fight I have an edge in cardio. That’s one of the things I really focus on. I put 100 percent of my heart and effort into this training camp. I’ve taken some trips up to Big Bear. It’s good to help you control your breathing. It’s a completely different story when you aren’t adjusted to altitude and trying to spar five rounds. It builds up the lactic acid in my muscles because I never really get adjusted to the altitude. It makes me push through the pain. I feel a lot more mentally strong because of that scenario.
On lifestyle – I live modestly by choice. The less bills I have and the less debts I have, the less I have to work and make money to support those needs. I try to dedicate every waking hour to training. I have to do everything I can to stay on top of my game. I can devote 100 percent of my time to my training.
Torres (37-2) has enjoyed 20 and 17-bout win streaks in his career. His loss to Bowles was his first in almost six years. Blessed with height and reach, Torres is also one of the most creative grapplers in the sport. Only seven of his bouts have gone to decision. He will fight Benavidez in the co-main event of WEC 47.
On his previous training – For about two or three years I didn’t have anyone to train me. I was running my gym full-time and I coached myself. It was working, but everyone was catching up. I got caught up where I was doing a lot of travelling and business stuff. It was a lot to handle at once. Whatever I tried to do, I did on a whim. The fact that I could do those things with little or no coaching and running a gym full time is a testament to my dedication and skill
On losing to Bowles – The loss to Brian was the best thing that could happen to my career. The biggest thing after my fight with Brian was getting my time in order. When I got back to my gym, I had to fix things so it could run by itself. I got a gym manager. I also went other places to train.
On Benavidez – I’m not training just to beat Joseph. I’m training to be a better fighter. I consider myself a martial artist. I got away from that and became an entertainer. I need to be more of a patient fighter; more of a smart fighter. I can’t rely on a game plan. You can watch past tapes, but fighters get better all the time. I focus on the difference: my length, my jiu-jitsu versus Joseph’s boxing, Joseph’s dirty boxing and wrestling.
Benavidez (11-1) went from unknown to rising prospect almost overnight after meeting Urijah Faber in Sacramento. His only loss was to Cruz at WEC 42, but it did earn a “Fight of the Night” bonus. Benavidez gives up five inches height and 10 inches reach to Torres.
On preparing for Torres – Everyone I practice with or fight usually has a reach on me. That’s a way of life for me. (Torres) has an extremely long reach. The only thing I did differently was seek out some boxers. I went with as many tall guys as I could. I got some guys in there to mimic him.
On Torres rarely being questioned about THIS fight – I don’t look at it as disrespect. I have to pave my way and get people excited about me. I don’t mind that role at all. It motivates me. I feel like very fight just gets bigger. Every fight gets more important. (Torres is) definitely my most notable opponent.
On losing to Cruz – Sometimes when you win, you don’t have to change anything. I always had the mentality that I’d be more athletic and faster and have better instincts. Then I went in there with a guy like Dominick, who is just as athletic maybe a little bigger and he had a game plan. It definitely re-focused me. It showed me that you can always improve.
(That’s how Reed Harris rolls. Props to Combat Lifestyle.)
The WEC general manager is preparing for WEC 47 tied into the Arnold Classic in Columbus and then WEC 48 in Sacramento on April 24th. The Sacramento card, headlined by Faber vs. Jose Aldo, will be the WEC’s first pay-per-view.
On WEC plans for 2010 – We are looking at a minimum of eight shows. Our next show after the (April 24th ) card is in June. After June, the following show is in the beginning of August. We have our hands full with these next two cards. These next two events are pivotal events for the WEC. We believe this year we will be in Canada.
On WEC 48 in Sacramento – We had a record presale. Tickets are tracking extremely well. I think we could be upwards of 15,000. I think it will be the biggest event we’ve ever done. We all believe this could be one of the best fights of the decade. We feel strongly it will not only be a great fight to watch but also a good value.