Former bantamweight champ returns Saturday at UFC 145
By now, everyone knows about "Miguel's Twitter joke." Or "Twittergate." Or "That time Miguel got fired because of Twitter." Whatever. Miguel Torres is over it. He's moving on.
He's not saying his December firing for an ill-timed Tweet – and subsequent re-hiring after three weeks of amends-making – wasn't a big deal. It was, and he learned from it. Time to talk about something else.
"I'm in a new phase in my life and I'm back to business and back in the UFC," Torres said. "I made amends, I corrected what I did wrong and now it's time to move forward. I'm trying to not dwell on things in the past. I'm looking toward the future."
Right now, the future is Saturday. The future is UFC 145. The future is Michael McDonald – literally and perhaps figuratively, too. Torres knows the labels that have been put on his next opponent, a 21-year-old prodigy who has been fighting since he was 16. At 31, Torres is the old bull fighting the strong young calf. In fact, he's positive he's never fought anyone this much younger than him. But his plan is to make it not matter thanks to his vast edge in experience – 40-4 to 14-1 for "Mayday."
"I think the edge is in my favor," Torres said. "He hasn't been in a war yet and been pushed to his limits. The experience factor is going to be on my side, and I just think I have the edge in every department. I've watched all of his fights and I know his main keys to victory – and I have the tools to be able to put him away."
McDonald has been put away just once, a 2009 TKO loss to Cole Escovedo. Torres, during his run to the WEC bantamweight title and his first few WEC fights, was a near-constant finisher. Before he signed with the WEC in 2007, Torres had 28 finishes in 33 fights and a ridiculous 32-1 record. And his first four WEC wins were finishes, too. But in his last seven fights, Torres is just 4-3 and has just one stoppage win, and that has had the keyboard warriors wondering why he isn't finishing fights anymore.
But Torres believes his ever-evolving training situation is starting to click. He warms up at his home gym in Hammond, Ind., which is run by his sister now when he's at camps outside Northwest Indiana. Then he gets some work in with the "Blackzilians" team at Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla. Then he goes way north to Montreal, where Firas Zahabi and the team at Tristar Gym take him down the home stretch to Fight Night. And Torres thinks his old style – carefree at best, reckless at worst – is about to mesh perfectly with Zahabi's more cerebral direction for him.
"Training is going great and I feel real good," Torres said. "I feel like I'm finding my balance between my old style and my new style. My wrestling is on point. My jiu-jitsu is great. Everything is good – I'm in a really good place right now. Mentally, I'm clean."
Torres said for the first time in eight years, he's relaxed in the days leading up to a fight because the pressures of running his gym have been alleviated by his sister this time around while he's got the shades out in Florida followed by a winter coat in Canada. And that has helped him get a handle on the ways McDonald is a threat to him, and just how he plans on winning the fight.
"My old style is a good matchup against him," Torres said. "He's a power striker, so if I put the pressures on at the beginning of the fight and try to wear him out, it's going to put him in a lot of trouble. He hasn't been in a situation where he's fought a guy who's not going to be afraid of his power and who is going to be in his face the whole time. His weapon is his right hand. He throws big right hands and big left hooks. He's a counter striker. He doesn't do well going backwards. But anywhere we are in the fight, I'm going to pose a serious threat to him. He's going to know what it's like to be in a fight after Saturday."
A win over McDonald would make Torres 4-1 since a two-fight skid in the WEC that saw him lose his bantamweight belt to Brian Bowles, then get a permanent scar on his forehead and a nasty choke-out by Joseph Benavidez. And the only loss in that stretch would be to Demetrious Johnson – a fairly disputed unanimous decision nod for "Mighty Mouse" that got him a title shot. If Torres puts McDonald away, the stars would appear to be aligned for Torres to be close to another crack at the belt.
But he's not quite worried about that yet.
"I think I'm extremely close," Torres said. "But I'm not really concerned with a title shot. I'm concerned with Michael McDonald and taking care of this business I have next weekend. After the fight, whatever. But my main goal now is to take care of Michael McDonald."
Torres and McDonald fight on the main card of the UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans pay-per-view Saturday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The main event features a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Torres' Blackzilians teammate Rashad Evans.