LAS VEGAS -- Most MMA fans would consider Miguel Torres’ recent signing with World Series of Fighting a step backward, but the 31-year-old former bantamweight world champion disagrees — saying the WSOF is just the jump his career needs right now.
"Everyone has only a small window of time in this game before life takes over," Torres said, flashing a smile during Thursday’s inaugural WSOF press gathering that quickly retorted a reporter’s follow-up question about any impending retirement announcement.
"But I don’t think I have hit my prime yet. This (getting cut from the UFC) is more motivation to make me train harder and fight a lot better."
Don’t get Torres, the former World Extreme Cagefighting champ, wrong. He was plenty peeved after getting his pink slip from the world’s largest MMA organization after going 2-2 and losing to Michael McDonald via first-round knockout at UFC 145 in April.
"At first I was really upset. But in life, things happen for a reason and this is one of those things where I look at it as a new starting point," said Torres, who sports a career MMA record of 40-5.
"I’m sure I could find a way back in there (to return to the UFC), but for me I’m not try to base anything on them anymore. I’m moving forward with my life and helping this organization and then take care of what I can control in the future."
Torres — who will headline the first-ever WSOF card against a yet-to-be-named opponent, set for Nov. 3 at Planet Hollywood and airing on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) — says he credits WSOF president Ray Sefo, a decorated kickboxing champion and Las Vegas-based trainer, as being the main factor in choosing WSOF over other promotions.
"There were other organizations that were established already that had different things going on. But for me to be in a start-up organization on NBC, to me it made sense," Torres said. "I helped build the WEC, I was in the UFC and I fought all over the Midwest.
"But I never fought for a guy who was not just a fighter, but one of the best fighters in the world. In my deciding factors, that was one of the big selling points for me. He understands what I’m going through, where I’m coming from, and who I am as a person and as a fighter."
Torres — who said he would return to train in his home gym in Hammond, Ind., instead of traveling around like he has for the past half year — said doubters can easily discredit another promotion entering the MMA world, but he believes there not only is room for the WSOF, but a need as well.
"The sport has grown so much and gyms are producing so many fighters. A lot of guys go unnoticed," he said. "Unless you have somebody who can back you up or put your name out there, or by chance you get noticed — it’s hard. A lot of guys don’t have the money to go to tryout or have the time to sit in line for five hours and hit pads.
"There’s a lot of talent, even in the area I’m from, there’s a ton of studs who train and fight and never get noticed. With this organization you’re going to see a lot of new names, a lot of good guys coming out. New fresh faces."
Torres — who was cut from the UFC this past year after making an ill-advised joke about rape on Twitter, before quickly apologizing and eventually being reinstated to the UFC — dismisses rumors that another off-color Twitter comment was the reason behind him receiving his walking papers from Zuffa.
"The official letter I got was for my last loss," Torres said. "I’ve seen a couple of rumors and reports that it was another Tweet or rape comment, but that’s just ignorant. I don’t know where they got that from. I haven’t made any jokes like that at all.
"People are going to say what they want to say. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about Nov. 3, headlining this card and coming out there and being the best Miguel Torres I can be."
And right now Torres says he believes he can be his best in helping build the WSOF from the ground up.
"I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. That was one of the main things they told me. We’re getting picked up by NBC Sports, it’s gonna be a huge thing," Torres said.
"It’s not a league that will be here and gone in a day or two. We’re gonna do big things and they need guys who can help carry them on their back. I believe I’m one of those guys."