Miguel Torres announced his retirement this weekend, and since he’s been out of the scene for so long, most have probably forgotten how big he was in the sport.
He was, for a long time, the best “little guy” around. A serious, stone-cold killer. But he existed in the era before the sport went mainstream, so the general public didn’t get to see him at the height of his reign. Instead, they saw a guy with a reputation getting clobbered, over and over again.
Dave Meltzer has done an excellent piece eulogizing his career. Here’s a sample, but definitely read the rest.
Torres had a 32-1 record in listed pro fights when he showed up in World Extreme Cagefighting in 2007. There were always claims of a dozen or more wins in obscure shows not listed on his record, which wasn’t unusual for fighters in that era. There were all kinds of unsanctioned shows in places like nightclubs where nobody kept records. Torres combined a great submission game, particularly off his back, with a long reach — 76 inches — while competing mostly in the bantamweight division.
But in those days, lighter weight classes weren’t in vogue. So he often fought as a featherweight and lightweight, giving up size, Even with those limitations, he had only one loss, up a weight class, that he later avenged. He had six knockouts and 20 submissions, and his ground game was one of the slickest in the sport.
The WEC had been a small organization mostly running at a Native American casino in Lemoore, Calif., when the UFC purchased the company, largely to head off competition. UFC had established MMA as a sport that could draw strong television ratings in 2005, and by late 2006 the company was exploding in popularity. Versus, now called the NBC Sports Network, was looking to get into the MMA game and was in talks with the International Fight League, which looked to be UFC’s main competition at the time.