Talking to World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, you get the feeling that he would be successful in whatever field he chose. Luckily for fight fans, he chose MMA, and will take on Takeya Mizugaki on Sunday, April 5 at WEC 40. Read on for part one of Cage Writer's interview with Torres.
Who is the best fighter in the WEC?
Two guys, me and Mike Brown. I think Urijah Faber is at the top, but I haven't seen a lot of variety out of Urijah. He has a lot of talent, but I haven't seen a lot of diversity in his game. Mike Brown has been fighting for a long time, and I've always been impressed with him. He's a big guy for his weight. He's with American Top Team, and they have science on their side. They can have a guy cut down 35 pounds and show up fine the next day. Jose Aldo is good, but he hasn't fought anyone tough yet. At 35, you have Curran, Brian Bowles and Benavidez, because he doesn't care who I am or what I've done, and a fight like that is always dangerous. Especially when they're young, they don't have injuries.
What is the story with WEC Bantamweight Jeff Curran? You've both been saying stuff about each other, and you're not even fighting each other.
Here is Miguel Torres' side of the story. I was approached by him last year after he lost to Faber and Brown, and he was upset because he had made a mistake. He's really complacent in the way he fights because he's got so much experience, his style is to be complacent, use jiu-jitsu, kind of an old school approach. But for going against these young guys who aren't scared of anything, who are explosive and have nothing to lose, you're going to get caught eventually, and that's what happened in those fights. He said he wanted to come down to 135, and I said that he'd be really good at it. He's more natural at that weight. Then a month later he called me and said he wanted to hype a fight with me, but I was getting ready for my fight with Manny Tapia. He said he'd really want to get a fight going with me, so it would be a good idea if we could talk crap to each other. Not disrespectful or nothing, just to get a fight going. I told him that I have no problem doing that with him, but I don't want to talk about you and then go fight Tapia in a month. He was hosting an event, opening his new gym, announcing that he was going down to 135, and he wanted me to be there. I couldn't make it out there, and people took that as me disrespecting Jeff Curran.
So then he came out to an event here in Hammond, five minutes from my gym, and he calls me out, "Yeah, I'm coming down to 135, I'm taking my title back from Miguel, he's just holding it for me." I'm out of town and I'm getting phone calls saying, "Hey, Jeff Curran's calling you out in your backyard." So that killed me a little bit. Then Jeff recanted, saying he didn't call me out, then I saw video, and he did call me out, just back and forth stuff. I understand that. But the last straw was that the WEC wanted me to do a question-and-answer, but I would have had to be away from training for two weeks, and I didn't want to do that. So someone asked Curran what he thought of Miguel Torres, and he said, "Miguel Torres doesn't have anything for me. I'm going to whoop his ass and to take my title back." He's just trying to hype a fight.
He's on the last legs of his career; he's had two losses in a row in the WEC. The bout with Benavidez is not a fight he can look past. Benavidez is tough. He's never been knocked out or submitted, so he's not scared, he doesn't have that fear. When you don't have that fear, you're very dangerous. Curran needs to be careful. I hope Curran wins, because I want to fight him so bad, but I hope he loses, because then he looks dumb. Either way is all right with me. The outcome of that fight has no impact on me, because I'll end up fighting both guys eventually. I'll have to fight Curran before the end of his career, even if it's not with the WEC. I'll have to, just for my satisfaction.
With all of the Curran talk, are you looking past your opponent, Takeya Mizugaki?
I'm totally focused on it. If I had to fight him tomorrow, I could. For me, I don't peak for a fight. I'm in a mode where I can fight for about three weeks. I've been feeling it for about two weeks now, and it's just the matter of maintaining it. I don't overtrain myself; my body knows exactly what I've got to do. He doesn't jab too much and has a decent wrestling base. He likes to strike a lot. He doesn't kick too much. He says that he wants to stay on his feet and come knock me out, and that's fine. I don't plan on taking him down. People say why do you want to fight him at his strength, since striking is his strength, but I think he's fighting me at my area of strength, not vice versa. I want to make it an exciting fight for the fans. Coming back to Chicago, I want to make this an exciting fight.
You haven't had a decision since 2005. Would a decision win be a disappointment?
They always are to me. In the past, the two guys who I have taken to a decision were two guys who were talking garbage about me. They called me out, so for me, I fought them to decision to hurt them. But the bad thing is that years later, these guys' claim to fame is that they went three rounds with me, and I could have put them away, so I will never do that again. A decision victory is a victory, especially if you've dominated the whole fight, but a fight isn't over until it's finished. I came from an era where there were no time limits; you just fought until the other guy was done. That's why my game is so cardio and stamina based. There would be thirty minutes of fighting, and you'd just go until the other guy was done. Those were the fun days. I miss that. There was a decisive winner. Now, with a decision, you could always say the other guy stalled me out, or that the ref or the judges didn't like me, but a finish is a finish.
Do you prefer to fight an opponent who fights a particular style?
Doesn't matter to me. When I first started fighting, I fought guys who were into one style or another, they were wrestling or jiu-jitsu guys, and no one wanted to stand up with me at all. That's why nobody knows about my striking. I've been training striking for eleven years, but they haven't had a chance to see it until recently. People have figured out that they don't want to take me down, but then they realize I have a great striking game, too.
How did you get started as a fighter?
I started karate when I was seven, did that for about a year, got out of that and played soccer my whole life. I did tae kwon do when I was 14, but before I did that, my dad got us boxing gloves for my ninth birthday (Pictured at right.) My garage burnt down, and we just had the foundation, and the cinder block was high enough that it made a boxing ring. All the kids from the neighborhood would come around, and we would box in the backyard. We didn't have any training, we didn't have a chest protector, or head gear. We just had the old school boxing gloves. My brother would windmill with his head down until he hurt somebody, and then as soon as he hurt him, then his friend would say go, and he'd come in with an upper cut.
Being at such a small weight class, do you think you're at a disadvantage?
I love disadvantages, and I love being the underdog. That's what has driven me to be where I am right now. I'm on top, and I'm looking around, and I have no adversity. Everyone's saying you're the best this, you're the best that, and I hate that. I hate being called the best at anything. It makes you feel too comfortable. I like to hear, "You're too small. You're too skinny. The other guy has too much experience." Now I'm the guy who has everything on my side, so I have to find something else to make adversity come from. I like that I fight at a smaller weight class, and I want to show that it's just as good or better than the other weight classes. It's a challenge that I have set in front of me, but I feel like everyone has a purpose in life. My purpose is to make 135 blow up.
Can anyone come to your gym to train?
If you walk into my gym and want to train with me, you've got to spar with me. You're going to go back to your gym with a story. That way, they'll know I'm not a punk, and they'll know what I'm about. My game is not special. My game is to put pressure on somebody until they break. I will go with one part of my game until you figure that out, then that opens up the rest of my game and I'm going to hit you with everything else. When I fought Tapia, my corner was screaming, "Hit 'em with the right!" But I didn't need to. When he figures my jab out, then I'll hit him with the right, but if I need to jab him for three rounds, then I'll jab him for three rounds. I have a lot of tricks, but you don't get to find out about them yet.
Check back with Cage Writer tomorrow for part two of our interview with Miguel Torres.