Miguel Torres: 'I'm an underdog'

In part two of Cagewriter's interview with WEC champ Miguel Torres, he talks about training with famed MMA coach Mark DellaGrotte, and whether or not he is cocky. Click here to read part one of the interview.

Cagewriter: For this fight, you've spent some time training with Mark DellaGrotte. What was that like?

Miguel Torres: I've been wanting to work with DellaGrotte for a while. I've been working with Kurt (Pellegrino), doing the show with Kenny (Florian), and I had seen him working at UFC shows, and I had always wanted to work with him, but I've never had the opportunity. This time, before UFC 100, I went there a week early and I got a chance to work with him.

His style is just so the opposite of mine. He's more smooth, more relaxed, more of a thinker, more of a game plan kind of guy, I'm more of a fighter's fighter. I want to go out there and beat people up. He started giving me his philosophy of fighting, told me that he couldn't change the way I fought, but if I can add elements of his style into mine, I can be unstoppable. I can be dangerous. I'm trying to incorporate a little bit of strategy, a little bit of finesse instead of always being so dangerous.

You're a coach and teacher, too. Did you take anything away from him to change your coaching style?

The way you coach and teach is all about your personality. I have a really hard personality when I fight, so it's the same way when I teach. You always have a really hard style when you fight, or you have a really easy style. I've never met somebody that was in the middle.

DellaGrotte is one of those guys that's in the middle. He can be hard when he has to be, he can be soft when he has to be. But his main thing is motivation. He can make guys who are not good fighters into very decent fighters. If he has a guy who has talent, than he can make him into a super fighter. He has the ability to bring out the best in any body, whether they have skills or no skills.

DellaGrotte is one of the few guys I respect because I've had a lot of guys tell me what to do or show me what to do, but they can't do it to me. If they can't do it to me, I don't respect that. I can't listen to someone who has never fought. With DellaGrotte, the first five or six times we sparred, he didn't do pads, he just sparred me. He would just use finesse to get me off my game. He is like a bull fighter. It was very impressive. Not a lot of guys can do that to me.

Did DellaGrotte do anything different to motivate you?

As soon as I got off the plane for UFC 100, I went to Frank (Mir)'s gym and started sparring guys, and I just beat them up. They weren't great fighters. They were mediocre fighters, and I was fighting them at their level. I wasn't using a gameplan or any strategy, I wasn't hitting and moving. I was standing in front of them, letting them hit me and me hitting them back. When I go to a gym, if the guy is technical and very good, I'm going to be technical. If he is just a brawler, then I'll brawl with him. I have the ability to spar with anybody at their level. I don't know why I do that, if it's just a pissing contest, or if I'm just cocky, but it's just what I do.

DellaGrotte said that wasn't impressive at all. "You're dropping yourself to their level. Why would you even let that guy touch you?" he said. I said I don't mind getting hit, and he said, "That's not smart." He explained it to me. Everyone knows you're super tough, everyone knows you can take a punch. Everyone knows you're the man. You want to impress somebody? Don't get touched. Don't get hit.

I was frustrated by that. I said, "No, I want someone to hit me." It's the macho thing. And he said, "You know what you need? I'm going to help you." And he hugged me. At first, I said, "Let go of me man." But he just kept hugging me. It was kind of funny, but I did need a hug. No one ever gave me a hug before. It was what I needed.

Did you like doing MMA Live for UFC 100?

It was kind of frustrating, because I wanted to watch the fights. The fights were going on live right behind me, and I could hear the crowd, and I couldn't hear what anyone was saying because my earpiece wasn't working too well. I couldn't hear and I'm trying to pay attention to the fights, and Stephan (Bonnar) is fighting, and I wanted to see Stephan fight. It was frustrating. It was fun, and definitely something I want to do in the future, when I retire. I think I bring a perspective to a show like that that a lot of analysts don't have. I know the mentality of where a fighter is coming from.

Did you work out with Kenny Florian at all?

I worked out with Kenny a little bit, but he is a different person than I am in training. He works out with a specific game plan, and a specific purpose, I throw in a different element. I don't care who I work out with, I just want to beat everybody up. We just have two different training ideas. If I don't get beat up in a training session, I feel weird.

What do you think Kenny is going to do in his upcoming title fight with B.J. Penn?

I think Kenny is going to go out there and beat B.J. If B.J. shows up a little out of shape, or a little bit messed up in the mind, I think Kenny is going to win. At the same time, if it's the old B.J., the B.J. from the past, he's going to give Kenny a lot of problems. If Kenny can stick to his game plan and frustrate B.J., Kenny can win. It's just a matter of who shows up. Whenever there is a fight that is too close to call, it's whoever has the better mind set.

You're close with Frank Mir. What do you think went wrong in his fight with Brock Lesnar?

I think Frank trained wrong for the fight. When I got there, he was training with three, four different guys on stand-up. He was training for a stand-up fight instead of training with wrestlers that were bigger than Brock. If I was fighting a guy like Brock Lesnar, I wouldn't train stand-up at all because I know my stand-up is better, just on sheer experience. I would train to have a guy who was bigger than me lay on top of me and punch me. Anyone who watched the first fight knew that the second fight was going to go the same way.

He didn't train for that, and that frustrated me because I love Frank a lot. I've been there for his whole career, the ups and the downs, everyone knew what Lesnar was going to do, and I don't think he believed in his mind it was going to happen that way. He's going to get right back on the horse and do it again. Frank's the kind of guy that he's not going to let this get in his way. It's going to make him a better fighter.

That's the difference between martial artists and fighters. Fighters go out and get beat like that and it discourages them, and it puts them in a bad place. Frank's going to take this as a learning experience and this is going to make him a better fighter.

What else makes martial artists different from fighters?

I think the biggest difference is just experience in life. I came up in a lot of rough situations that I've always overcame. It's all my life experiences of me coming through bad spots and always coming out on top. And I've always been the underdog since I was younger, in everything, and I've always had the drive to fight through. I've never been discouraged by adversity. The more adversity I have, the better I come through.

I'm not the underdog in the sense of my experience, but I am the underdog in the sense of quality of training partners, quality of training time. Everyone thinks that when you're the champ, it's easier, but it's the exact opposite. You have to do more travel, more interviews, more media, there's a lot more responsibility involved. I think the better thing was when I was not known was that all I had to worry about was training. Now I have so much more responsibility, I'm ushering in a new weight class, I'm carrying my weight class on my shoulders. Everyone wants to fight me. It can be frustrating at times, but it keeps me in the sense that I'm the underdog.

Even if Vegas isn't saying you're the underdog; even if no one is saying it?

I don't care. I don't listen to what anybody says. I'm trying to change my game. I'm learning to wrestle. I'm training smarter instead of harder. I know I'm never going to get tired, I know I'm never going to get hurt. My will and my drive and my heart is there. I just need to train a little bit smarter, and develop a little more strategy.

Your upcoming opponent, Brian Bowles has a wrestling background. Will he take you down?

The only way Bowles will take me down is in the last minutes of the round to steal rounds away. He'll stand up with me until the round is going to end and then he'll take me down to steal the round away. He'll try to steal that round away. I know what his strategy is going to be. He's going to try to beat me on my feet, he's going to try to knock me out. When he gets in trouble, he'll get a takedown and play safe and stand up. He's not going to want to get me on the ground.

It's going to be a matter of me catching him in that transition, or catching him when he's trying to get a takedown. I know Bowles, in his mind, he knows I'm better than him on the ground. Striking? He thinks he's better than me, but it's not going to last. He's never been hit before. The guys that he's knocked out have no standup ability whatsoever, and the guys he's choked, they were doing sloppy shots. They underestimated him. He's not going to knock me out. He's not going to submit me, and he's not going to steal a fight with takedowns. I fought a lot of guys who will stall already, I've fought a lot of guys with his mentality, the cockier he is, the harder he's going to fall.

He said he wants to shut you up. Do you think you're cocky?

I don't think I'm cocky. He thinks I'm cocky for some reason, I'm glad he wants to shut me up. I won't take it personal when I knock his ass out. That's pretty cocky, huh?

Your fight with Takeya Mizugaki is already considered one of the best of the year. Do you agree with that?

I'd say it's one of the best fights of the year, just because I was I'm fighting in my hometown for the first time in a long time, against an international opponent. Plus the misconception that he only had two weeks of training -- he had five weeks of training, which is long enough to get ready for a fight. He was a knockout artist, and I fought him in his area of expertise. Just the fact that he came, he was game to fight. All the elements to make a great fight were there and we performed to the best of our abilities.

Were you surprised that he gave you such a good fight?

I was surprised at how well he took a punch. In every video I saw of him, he got clipped by low-level opponents and got dropped or stunned. I was like, "I'm going to knock this guy out in the first round." I've seen him get hurt by guys who had no punching power. I didn't think he had a strong chance.

In the second and fourth rounds, I hit him with some of the biggest shots I've ever hit anyone with, and he didn't respond. I hit him with knees, and I hit guys with half the power of those knees, and I dropped them. it was very surprising to me that he was able to take that abuse, and not fall down in the match. After the fight, he collapsed, and they had to take him to the hospital. During the fight, he showed no signs of that.

What do you think will happen with his upcoming bout at WEC 42 with Jeff Curran?

If Jeff Curran comes out super aggressive and gets the takedown, he can win the fight. If Mizugaki keeps it on the feet, I think he's going to knock out Jeff Curran. I've never been hit so hard as I've been hit by Mizugaki, so he can knock Curran out. But if Curran can take him down, Curran can submit him. That's going to be his gameplan. That's going to be his only way to win the fight. He won't win it standing up.

What to Read Next