Miguel Torres hadn't lost for so long it was a shock to the system to see him drop a fight. Then came another loss. Then came questions about whether he was ever that good. He's good. He might be great but he just needed to get back to fighting with a controlled aggression. Torres did tonight by systematically breaking down Charlie Valencia. The former WEC bantamweight champ scored a rear-naked choke win at 2:25 of the second round to score his first win since April 2009.
Torres (38-3, 6-2 WEC) gave immediate credit to his new training camp and coach, Firas Zahabi, in Montreal.
"My two losses showed me I needed room to grow," Torres told Versus' Craig Hummer. "It put me in line with Firas and Tri-Star Gym. I have great training partners and it's going to make me a great fighter."
Torres didn't come out guns-a-blazing and was asked if he wasn't in a groove early in the fight.
"I've been working a lot on controlling myself in the cage," Torres said during the WEC 51 postfight press conference (18:15 mark). "A lot of my setbacks in the past I chased guys too much. I'm so excited to put on a show for the fans that I hit a guy and I try to go forward. Or I get hit and get crazy, and move forward. It's a little bit of a bloodlust that I have. Working with Firas it's one of the main thing we're trying to control."
Torres went on an amazing run without a loss from 2004-2009. But often he was so much better than the opponent he could get reckless and not pay for it. That style finally caught up with him in upset losses against Brian Bowles and Joe Benavidez.
He was a different fighter against Valencia. Torres held his right hand next to his face and used his jab well early in the fight. He also mixed in some good kicks while stalking Valencia around the cage.
Torres opened up a little at the start of the second round. A right hand just one miunute into the round staggered Valencia. Then Torres threw back-to-back head kicks, one with the right and then the left. Then he really hurt Valencia with a body punch. That's the versatility that made Torres so feared during his unbeaten streak. He pounced on Valencia, who was able to get to his feet for a few seconds before taking a knee to the grill and falling to his back. Torres jumped into Valencia's guard and it took less than 10 seconds for him to pass to side control. Valencia turned and Torres took his back with a body lock. From there, the rear-naked choke was inevitable.