Thursday, 08 May 2014 19:15 | By Aaron Chong, assistant Sports editor

UFC not the top anymore, says Torres

New Rebel FC fighter says Asia is his place to have a fresh start


Miguel Torres, UFC (© ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Miguel Angel Torres fights Nick Pace during a UFC 139 Mixed Martial Arts bantamweight bout in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011.

"Asia has become the new ‘top’ for me, not UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)," claims Miguel Torres, formerly of the prestigious mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, a man who’s no stranger to the fraternity.

Armed with one of the sport’s most impressive fight records at 41 wins and 7 losses, fans would be happy to know that he has signed a contract to fight in a 1 Aug event by local MMA promotion Rebel FC.

Asked at the media launch today if fighting for one of the region’s newest MMA promotions is considered a step down from the dizzying heights of his 14-year career, the 33-year-old was quick to retort, saying, “I don’t think I’m past my prime, but I have had to learn and adapt.”

Dropped twice by UFC, Torres knew that he could not keep on performing at the highest level, not because of age or decline in skill, but due to his other commitments. Torres teaches at his school, the Torres Martial Arts Academy based in Indiana, US, and recalls travelling around the world often with sponsors to do press conferences.

“It’s only natural that my results in the ring decline, because all my opponent does is watch me and learn how to counter my moves – my success is his motivation,” he said.

Despite not winning a UFC championship during those stints, Torres was still the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) bantamweight champion, a title he held when the two companies merged in 2010.

His time with the UFC proved to be less than rosy.

On 8 Dec 2011, UFC president Dana White announced the release of Torres due to a controversial tweet about rape. But less than a month later, Torres was re-signed on account of his apology.

Fast forward to 21 Apr 2012 and Torres was once again cut from the promotion following the fifth loss of his career. Reasons for his second release were not clearly spelt out, though analysts believe the move was due to a decline in Torres’ ability.

“It didn’t help when I had a manager who only saw me as a cash cow and wasn’t truly looking out for my best interests – I was a commodity to him, not a human being,” he said.

Miguel Torres (© ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The American admitted that the UFC snub was a big blow, not to his ego, but to his feelings. He also felt he had earned his way to the top by fighting over 40 bouts and winning multiple titles in the process. Torres feels that several past UFC fighters have “fizzled out fast”, no thanks to their lack of ability and experience.

“It’s sad that they (UFC) have to use reality TV shows to promote themselves and parachute the winner in,” he added.

Torres said that his reason for coming to Asia is that he wants to start afresh and feels that the region and its fighters are an untapped market with much for him to learn from. He believes that because of their upbringing, the best fighters in the region train and fight the hardest.

It will not be long before Torres lives by his word. He is set to face Japan's Takahiro Ashida, a fighter with a background in judo, at the event dubbed Rebel FC 2: Battle Royale.

Labelled the “marquee signing” by Rebel FC executive director Justin Leong, Torres said it is not the source of his pressure. Instead he admits that comes indirectly from his opponents.

“It’s only right that for as much as he has trained and the hardest he can, I should also bring my best to him.

“Our time in the ring is a special moment because we are exchanging our souls together – something that very few people in and outside the sport are able to experience,” he added.

Regardless of the result, Torres said, there will always be respect for one another.

Rebel FC 2: Battle Royale will showcase eight experienced MMA fighters in a knockout tournament. They will compete in quarter-final fights, with the winners of the bouts going on to compete in the semi-finals and final at a later date. The winner will be crowned the inaugural Rebel FC featherweight champion.

The match-ups are:

Will Chope v Mauricio Dos Santos Jr.
Takahiro Ashida v Miguel Torres
Michael Tobin v Pat Promrangka
Reydon Romero v Yojiro Uchimura

Rebel FC 2: Battle Royale will be hosted at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. For more information, visit rebelfightingchampionship.com.

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