Away from UFC spotlight, Torres puts WEC title on line

Often overshadowed by some of the bigger names in mixed martial arts, Miguel Torres might rank second to none in terms of talent.

While the debate about the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter is almost impossible to settle, Torres definitely is in the discussion. But even this weekend, when Torres takes the stage, he’s still slightly out of the spotlight in a World Extreme Cagefighting event.

The media attention Saturday was on the Ultimate Fighting Championship card in Philadelphia. Torres headlines WEC 42 today in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. The 11-fight card starts at 3 p.m., with TV coverage on Versus at 6.

Torres (36-1) will defend his WEC bantamweight title against Brian Bowles (7-0).

“I want to be a world champion, and I want to dominate my weight class, and Bowles is the next roadblock in my journey,” said Torres, a 135-pounder. “I’m going to go out there and bust him down. To beat me, you have to kill me.

“The biggest thing is mindset when you go into a fight. You know your mindset and your heart, and my mindset and my heart are unshakeable and unquestionable.”

Torres is a 3-1 favorite, but Bowles has vowed to knock him out.

Bowles, a former police officer from Athens, Ga., is fortunate to get a second chance at Torres. A back injury forced Bowles to pull out of their scheduled fight in April. His replacement, Takeya Mizugaki, pushed Torres for five rounds.

Bowles feared the injury would threaten his career, but he’s back and confident after watching Torres struggle to beat Mizugaki.

“He thinks he’s the No. 1 guy in the world,” Bowles said. “I’m going to be his biggest challenge.”

Bowles is a powerful puncher. Torres said he has worked to improve his wrestling and is prepared to do battle standing up or on the ground.

“Brian thinks he’s going to show me something I haven’t seen, a different look or a game plan. I’ve never seen one implemented yet, one that’s been able to work,” Torres said. “I’m letting him choose his poison, whether it’s going to be stand-up or on the ground.

“He comes with a big right hand and big left hook. You know he just comes straight forward with big punches. I think the big difference is I know I can take a punch. I know I can take damage and keep going.”

Torres, from East Chicago, Ind., fights with a relentless tenacity and has exceptional stamina. He also has more experience than Bowles, who has not had to go past the second round in any fight.

“In his mind, I know he has to have doubts,” Torres said. “I’ve been in this game for a long time. I can smell fear, and I can smell doubt. Brian’s still trying to develop his game. In the back of his mind somewhere, he’s got doubts.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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