Former WEC bantamweight king Miguel Angel Torres will be looking to find his groove again and bounce back from two-straight losses when he takes on Charlie Valencia tonight at WEC 51. Torres had defended his 135lb. crown three times before losing the strap to Brian Bowles via knockout at WEC 42 in 2009. He was then submitted by Joseph Benavidez in his return to action at WEC 47 and just like that a fighter who had remained previously unfinished was riding a two-fight losing streak in which neither fight saw the distance.
It has been since March that Torres posted the loss to Benavidez and during that time the East Chicago native has spent his time rededicating himself to MMA under the tutelage of renowned trainer Firas Zahabi at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada. Torres spoke to MMAFighting about his revamped training and of his experience training under Zahabi.
“I had to become a student of the game again,” Torres said. “I was doing my own thing for so long that I didn’t look at the other side of the coin while everybody was catching up. Everybody’s watching me fight on TV, they’re watching my highlights, they’re watching my interviews and they’re getting ready to fight me. And I’m living in a care-free world while I’m sitting on top – and I didn’t see that coming.”
Torres was frank in admitting that he was training inadequately prior to his fight with Benavidez and that a mentality steeped in bravado was key in his fall from the top.
“Before the Benavidez fight, I was still doing the same things I was doing before all the other fights – if not less because I was injured,” Torres said. “So it was just a bad mentality, it was an old-school mentality, a tough-guy mentality where I can do anything – it doesn’t matter if I’m hurt or if I don’t have a training partner. I was trying to do everything myself. Now I know you can’t do that. You’ve got to have a fight family to look after you and help you grow. So the biggest thing out of (training with) Firas is that. I’m in a way better place now mentally.”
Torres will now have the chance to display his new commitment, mentality and training as he takes on Charlie Valencia tonight at WEC 51. Torres told MMAFighting that changes in his mentality have been a big part of his new training and approach to MMA and that he will be looking to enact them when he and Valencia meet.
“I’m not going to go out there and fight recklessly,” Torres said. “I could put him away standing up or on the ground, but I’m not going to force it. That’s the biggest thing I’ve worked on. I get too over-anxious sometimes when I hit guys and I want to go out there and go for a kill – and that puts me in danger. So I worked a lot on just picking guys apart and making them make the mistakes – not me making the mistakes.”
Displaying a humility that he admits was absent during his tenure as champion, Torres has been embracing his role as a renewed student of the game and says that he is dedicated to making the many improvements he still has to make.
“I still have a long way to go,” Torres said. “I’m not saying I’m on top of everything I have to be on top of. But I have a real good idea of what I’ve got to do. The game plan’s laid out, and I just have to put the time in.”
Valencia, who has won three straight, should test exactly how far Torres has come since his loss to Bowles. The two will meet on the main card of WEC 51 which airs live on The Versus Network tonight from the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado.