Torres slips out of fame's grip

Torres slips out of fame's grip
Miguel Torres (extreme right) was once a feared MMA fighter until the distractions of fame blindsided him. He has since redirected his attention to the sport, with an MMA competition here on Aug 1 – that also features (from left) Yojiro Uchimura, Pat Promrangka and Takahiro Ashida among others – providing him with a platform to win back fans who may have written off his career.

He was once dubbed the greatest bantamweight in history by the mixed martial arts (MMA) community and boasted an impressive 37-1 win-loss record in 2009.

Yet, in five short years, Miguel Torres' career hit a major slump, as he suffered six damaging defeats and dropped out of the elite Ultimate Fighting Championship.

What caused the slide?

According to the Mexican-American, it was the slippery slope of success.

In town yesterday to promote Aug 1's Rebel FC 2: Battle Royale MMA event, the 33-year-old said: "I was too successful and I had nothing going wrong."

"When you are going up for several years, you are going to come down hard."

The former World Extreme Cagefighting champion, who is known for his deadly Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills honed under Carlson Gracie Jr, added that the demands of fame had also robbed him of valuable time at the gym.

But he has since placed his focus back on the cage and was yesterday drawn to face Japanese Takahiro Ashida, 24, in the eight-man, knockout competition.

Said Torres, who has a 41-7 record: "Until you come and watch on Aug 1, you can't tell whether I am past my best or not. If people think I am, then come and see me train at my gym. Nobody knows the problems we fighters have outside the ring and people who judge fighters like that never trained a day in their lives."

He might have to put on the kilos as he steps up to the featherweight (66kg) category for the Battle Royale but Torres is not worried. Recalling that some of his best wins were against Japanese fighters Yoshiro Maeda and Takeya Mizugaki, he added that he would be looking for a stand-up fight against Ashida.

Said Torres: "I saw two Japanese guys on the list and I just knew I would face one of them."

"Japanese fighters have a lot of heart when they fight and they bring out the best in me."

Ashida, who is 12-2 and trains at Brave Gym, rotating between their Tokyo and Saitama branches, is aiming not to disappoint.

He said: "I know that Torres is the strongest opponent so I was hoping that I would get him in the first round."

"I am confident, my style is to stand and fight and I will get the knockout."

In the other quarter-finals of the event, which will be held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, former UFC exponent Will Chope (19-6) will face Brazilian Mauricio Dos Santos Jr (10-8).

Australian Michael Tobin (8-0) will meet Thailand's Pat Promrangka (5-4) while Filipino Reydon Romero, the reigning Universal Reality Combat champion (7-4), will fight Japanese Yojiro Uchimura (11-6).

Tickets will be on sale from May 16 at all Sistic outlets.

WATCH, DON'T JUDGE

Nobody knows the problems we fighters have outside the ring and people who judge fighters like that never trained a day in their lives.

- Miguel Torres, warning that his critics should watch him training

This article was published on May 9 in The Straits Times.

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