Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Stat sheets may list Miguel Torres as inactive for the past four months, but for a so-called break, the fighter's life has been awfully eventful.
Back in December, Torres' hammer dropped swiftly and without remorse. After posting a misguided Workaholics joke on Twitter, the 31-year-old bantamweight found himself drowning under a firestorm of outrage, and soon after, exiled from the UFC.
Torres eventually worked his way back into Dana White's good graces, expressing remorse and donating money to local rape centers on his own dime, however the experience of losing everything in a split-second left him a changed man.
"I learned to watch what I say and to appreciate what I have," Torres candidly admitted on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
"I had no idea what was going to happen. The situation was all fun and games, and then it got real really quick. ... Now my mindset is this could be taken away from me at any time. I have to make the most of what I have, while I have it."
It's easy to lose sight of such things after twelve years of fighting for a living. But facing the stark reality of a life without the UFC, Torres quickly began to realize the implications of what he initially thought was a harmless joke.
"I just didn't take it into perspective like I do now," he said. "I was too busy taking care of everything else. Running my business, being with my family, traveling, fighting, training, training other people, just doing so many things that I didn't appreciate little things, like being hired in the UFC. So something like that makes a huge difference in your life, and I appreciate that now."
Ultimately, Torres' renewed self-awareness has become a blessing in disguise. After experiencing such an eye-opening downslide, his commitment to fighting is the strongest it has ever been, and as he prepares for a top contenders match against upstart prospect Michael McDonald at UFC 145, everything from his diet to his training has transformed for the better.
"My whole career has been about proving people wrong," Torres asserted. "Ever since the beginning, people have never given me a benefit of the doubt and never given me a chance.
"For me, I look at this as a second chance to be able to show everybody what I'm about. I haven't had a clear mind in a long time. The fact that I get to solely focus on training is going to make me a 100-percent different person. I already know, the way I'm training now, I feel different. It's unexplainable. People that watch me train have noticed a huge difference. They ask if I've been eating different or doing something different. The biggest thing is that my mind is clear. I have no worries."
With three recent wins sandwiched between a loss to top contender Demetrious Johnson, Torres (40-4) appears poised to make another run at the belt that once rested on his mantle.
McDonald's stock may be skyrocketing, but at just 21 years old, having barely grazed the legal drinking age, the young Californian is still extremely untested, and he hasn't yet had to fight anybody like Torres. According to the former WEC champion, that chasm of inexperience is going to become very clear, very quickly. "I'm going to give him his introduction to the real world of MMA," Torres finished intensely.
"I'm not going to test him at all. I'm going to show him what's up. Big difference: when you give a test, you can pass and fail a test. When you show somebody what's up, that's what you show them. I'm going to show him what's up."
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