Former WEC bantamweight champ Miguel Torres is desperate to break a two-fight losing streak when he faces Charlie Valencia in the co-main event of WEC 51: Aldo vs. Gamburyan tonight from Broomfield, Colorado.
Torres, now 37-3, was on a 17-fight win streak which included title defenses over Yoshiro Maeda, Manny Tapia, and Takeya Mizugaki – and then he hit the wall. Torres was relieved of his title belt in a first-round KO loss to Brian Bowles in August, and at the time, Torres said he viewed that loss as an anomaly.
But when Torres then suffered a horrific cut and was submitted by Joseph Benavidez at WEC 47, he was shocked into reality and began to question his style and training methods. The shock of suffering back-to-back losses left Torres searching for answers. That led to a complete re-thinking of his direction which culminated in an uncharacteristic about-face.
Torres had directed his own training and worked with notables like Robert Drysdale and Mark DellaGrotte. He sparred with Frank Mir, Kenny Florian, Rashad Evans and Kurt Pellegrino.
Now, Torres is working with Firas Zahabi at the Tristar Gym in Montreal. Zahabi is the brains behind UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, and their collaboration marks the first time Torres has put his fate in the hands of an outside trainer.
“I was doing my own thing for so long that I didn’t look at the other side of the coin while everybody was catching up,” Torres said. “Everybody’s watching me fight on TV, they’re watching my highlights, they’re watching my interviews and they’re getting ready to fight me. And I’m living in a care-free world while I’m sitting on top – and I didn’t see that coming.”
Coming off back-to-back losses, Valencia found himself in roughly the same position before bouncing back with three-straight wins over Seth Dikun, Coty Wheeler, and Akitoshi Tamura.
Valencia now faces the prospect of taking on a hungry former champ who claims to be re-dedicated to his craft, and it’s a make or break moment for the self-directed Ontario, California fighter.
The star-studded, Versus-televised WEC 51 is headlined by a bout featuring featherweight champ Jose Aldo vs. Manny Gamburyan.