Miguel Torres never meant to sit out for a year. It wasn't a knee jerk reaction to a tough streak, and he certainly didn't intend to return to 145 pounds, a weight he hadn't competed at since he was plying his trade around the Indiana amateur circuit.
Like all things in life, the end result of his 11-month hiatus just kind of happened. After dropping a split decision to Marlon Moraes at WSOF's debut show, Torres was supposed to fight again in March. But that idea fell through, and then life started getting in the way.
By the time WSOF officials finally called Torres to offer him untested Pablo Alfonso at WSOF 6, it was three weeks out from the event, and a brief stop at featherweight simply sounded better than a short-notice, torturous weight cut down to 135.
"I feel good," Torres joked with MMAFighting.com. "It's not like I'm cutting 25 pounds to make 145. I'm really going to take a s--t and brush my teeth and I'll be on point. I'm not walking around at 200 pounds."
It's a typical Torres response, light of heart and dryly rattled off. But in many ways, it also flies in the face of a strange, misguided sense of expectation one might carry about the former WEC king.
Torres is a fighter who lost three of his past four. After starting his career with a 37-1 run, he's 3-5 since mid-2009. His first fight after being released by the UFC ended in a split decision loss, then he vanished. No media, no declarative statements about switching camps. Not much of anything, actually.
The common stereotype says the situation -- one last loss, to a then-unknown, no less -- finally sent Torres over the edge; a broken man left with nothing but memories of past glories. However, that couldn't be further from the truth.
"That fight didn't devastate me," Torres said. "I wasn't broken down, and I didn't fight (since then) because of that fight. I was just taking care of other business. I make money doing other things. Fighting is a good way to make money and get popularity, but I have that already.
"I do this for fun now. Before it was a fulltime job, and I developed all my skills and habits towards fighting. I was becoming too much like a workman. Now I haven't fought for a while, and I'm fighting because I want to fight again; because I miss it, because I want to have fun."
Torres' honestly is refreshing, if not surprising. It's definitely not something you hear everyday, a professional prizefighter describing how fighting is no longer their fulltime job.
Though in a way, it makes sense. While it explains Torres' self-imposed media blackout, it also explains the reason the once-outspoken fighter has, for all intents and purposes, trimmed away a majority of the social media fat he once reveled in, limiting his interaction to occasional musings instead of daily slapstick.
"I had to draw a line between how I am, how I think and how I feel," Torres said.
"Before WEC and UFC, I was a pretty private person. I wasn't on Facebook or Twitter. None of that stuff. My sponsors wanted me to get on. They said I had a funny personality, that I said a lot of funny things. And then that s--t got me in trouble. People at first liked it, and then they didn't like it; thought I was horrible. So I'd rather just keep my personal life personal."
To hear him explain it, it's actually quite simple. In the year since the Moraes loss, Torres fell off the grid because that's how he prefers to live.
Instead of devoting his time a thousand different directions, Torres decided to focus on himself. He trained, he expanded his academy, Hammond's Torres Martial Arts. He traveled, and he delighted in spending time with his family, especially his daughter, who's now old enough to understand that daddy punches people in the face for a living.
Meanwhile all the noise, the criticism and constant online potshots, it faded into irrelevance. It fell on deaf ears, the way Torres hoped.
"You could say that, yeah," Torres acknowledged. "I'm just fed up with all the crap, man. Fans are fickle. They love you one day, they hate you the next. You can't say how you think because they didn't like the way you think. All of a sudden you're a bad person. It's just a real fickle world that we live in, and the media can portray whatever you say however they want it to come out. So for me, it's nobody's business to begin with. It's my life. It's my business."
Torres says he's all grown up now, offhandedly in a way that you know he's mostly joking but the slightest shred of truth still exists within the cliché.
He prefers not to comment on his recent legal run-in, but is beyond thankful when asked about a late-September incident in which 11 Chicago gangsters robbed his father at gunpoint, but fortunately left him unharmed. The episode "hit home" with Torres, serving as yet another reminder of what is truly important in his life.
Now that he's back in action, Torres wants to fight as often as possible for two, maybe three more years, just to show his daughter what her old man is made of. And while he acknowledges that Alfonso is, at least on paper, an easy fight, he warns that the notion doesn't much.
Nonetheless, Torres sees this as a chance to show off his "old style," to begin writing the final chapter of a career in his own way, without the old outside obligations that once weighed him down.
"People write me off. They say I'm washed up. They say all these things, and I don't mind it," the 32-year-old Torres said.
"I know what's going on now. I can see the big picture. I'm happier because I see the world for how it works. I know what I've got to do to be successful, and that's mind my business, keep my head down, and fight my balls off like I used to."