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Miguel Torres: I Still Have a Lot of Things To Do

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - Eighteen months removed from his last win, and coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in his 40-fight professional career, Miguel Torres made no secret that something had to change.

For the first time in a long time, Torres put his fighting life in the hands of a coach, abandoning his pattern of self-training that worked for years – right up until the point it didn't work with losses to Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez.

So it should come as a surprise to no one at WEC 51 on Thursday night that when Torres began his walk to the cage, absent was the mariachi entrance music that had become as much a trademark for him as the relentless pace he would keep in fights.

"I got a lot of slack from my family for (changing the music)," Torres said after ending his slide with a submission win over Charlie Valencia. "But the song that I came out to – 'I'm Back' (by T.I.) – I feel like I'm back. When I first heard that a week and a half or two weeks ago, I hadn't heard the song before. I heard it and it just embodied me. I feel like I'm back. I really do. I still have a lot of things to do. I have a long way to go. I'm a contender again, and I won't be happy until I'm back on top."

To start down that path, the former WEC bantamweight champ, considered by many to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world before his losses to Bowles and Benavidez, moved to Montreal to train at the Tristar Gym and coach Firas Zahabi.

Torres said Zahabi taught him patience – something that he said was lacking in his game, even in his wins.

"I've been working a lot on controlling myself when I get in the cage," Torres said after submitting Charlie Valencia in the second round Thursday night. "My setbacks in the past, like when I got caught with Bowles, and even when I fought (Takeya) Mizugaki and (Yoshiro) Maeda, I chased guys too much. I'm so excited to put on a show for the fans that I hit a guy and I try to move forward, or I get hit and I get crazy and go forward. It's the bloodlust I have – just growing up in the 'hood, I guess. But working with Firas and the guys at Tristar, that's one of the main things I tried to control – just to be more calm and wait for the opening to present itself."

At 38-3 and 6-2 in the WEC, Torres had long ago proved he could be a handful for anyone. With back-to-back losses, the road back to a bantamweight title fight was already an uphill battle. A third loss would have been devastating toward that quest. But Torres said he's not thinking about the belt yet, and he's comfortable with the quest under Zahabi's leadership.

"My last two losses put me in a better place," Torres said. "I think if I would've won my last two fights, I'd still be doing the same things I was doing before. Now I'm with a really good team at Tristar. I've got a great coach. And mentally, I think I'm in a better place. I think I have a lot of work ahead of me, and I'm not worried about a title shot right now. I'm just worried about being the best fighter I can be. I still have a long way to go. I'm just happy to get back to training and get back out there and be able to do what I do."

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