Torres was expecting to face Brad Pickett at UFC 130 next month. But the UFC announced Wednesday that Pickett had pulled out of the fight with an undisclosed injury. Stepping in for Pickett will be wrestling standout Demetrious Johnson.
Johnson already was in training camp for his fight against Renan Barao on the same May 28 card. The UFC said Barao will now await a new opponent.
Torres (39-3, 1-0 UFC) and Johnson (9-1, 1-0 UFC) are both coming off wins in their UFC debuts at UFC 126 in February. Torres dominated a standup fight against Antonio Banuelos to win a unanimous decision. Johnson won a unanimous decision against Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto in the Japanese legend's UFC debut.
Torres has won two straight after suffering the first back-to-back losses of his career. The first of those losses, a knockout by Brian Bowles, saw him lose his WEC bantamweight title – ending a winning streak of nearly six years. He returned seven months later and was submitted by Joseph Benavidez.
The losses forced Torres, who had always been his own coach, to rethink his training philosophy. He moved his training camps to Montreal and the Tristar Gym under the tutelage of Firas Zahabi, also the head trainer of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. He's been happy with the results so far, including a Submission of the Night win over Charlie Valencia to close out his WEC career.
Johnson will come into the fight riding a three-match winning streak. Ironically, the only loss "Mighty Mouse" has suffered came against Pickett in Johnson's WEC debut a year ago. Since then, he's won unanimous decisions against Yamamoto and Nick Pace and submitted Damacio Page at WEC 52 in November.
Torres, who at 5-foot-9 is one of the tallest fighters in the bantamweight division, will have a significant height and reach advantage against Johnson, who is just 5-3. But Johnson's wrestling pedigree is superior to that of Pickett, which may have Torres making major modifications over the next month.
The Torres-Pickett fight was to air on Spike TV's live prelims leading into the UFC 130 pay-per-view. Johnson-Barao was not scheduled to be aired. It is expected that the new fight between Torres and Johnson will be part of Spike's prelim broadcast.
UFC 130 takes place May 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be headlined by a lightweight title rematch between champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard. The two fought to a rare title-bout draw at UFC 125 in January.
The pay-per-view also features a light heavyweight bout between former champion Rampage Jackson and Matt Hamill; heavyweight clashes between Las Vegans Frank Mir and Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve-Travis Browne; and the UFC return of Jorge Santiago against Brian Stann.