Is Miguel Torres Overlooked in the MMA P4P Rankings?
In my last article, I made the P4P case for Lyoto Machida. Today, I evaluate the credentials of the dominant bantamweight, Miguel Torres
How can a guy who manages to play soccer for two nations, write and act, be president of the Bodegas Torres, and be a champion MMA fighter not be ranked at the top of the P4P?
Well actually, apparently those are five different Miguel Torreses, including two Miguel Angel Torreses and one Miguel A Torres, middle name unknown.
Seriously though, this guy at least deserves to be included in the discussion considering his unprecedented 37-1 record, that Miguel Torres claims should be 49-1, not to mention his impressive soccer statistics and wine-making prowess.
But enough jokes...it's not like his name is Thiago Silva, which has got to be like the Brazilian equivalent of Mike Johnson.
Lets look at Miguel's argument for being with the top of the P4P pack. Again, I'll be using three main factors, those being results, skill set, and "beatability."
Miguel Torres official record stands at 37-1, which is pretty much the most dominant record I've ever seen in MMA, if I'm going strictly by the numbers. The record includes his most recent wins over Chase Beebe, Manny Tapia, Yoshiro Maeda, and Takeya Mizugaki.
All of these fighters are considered to be elite within the division, yet subsequent losses by Beebe, Tapia, and Maeda, may devalue those wins to a small degree.
As for the rest of the record, it is difficult to weigh the value of the other 33+ wins over relatively unknown opponents. The common thought in the MMA world is that any win is a tough win, as we see many fighters who leave the UFC experience trouble getting wins in so-called "lesser organizations."
However, I tend to disagree with that to some degree. Even the relatively one-dimensional Sean Sherk was able to compile a 29-2-1 record over mostly inferior competition before running into GSP, then BJ Penn, and now Frank Edgar.
But that doesn't really illustrate my point, as Sherk is still a very good fighter. But consider this:
Miguel Torres's record already stood at 29-1 before his fighting career ever left the state of Indiana. Not that there is anything wrong with fighting in Indiana, but it does beg questions about the level of competition he faced.
Furthermore, 28 of his wins are by either submission or decision, with others coming via ground and pound TKO. Now this might not be remarkable to the casual fan, but I'll explain why this is significant: In lower level competition the grappling skill differences can be drastic. Furthermore, while strikers always have a "puncher's chance," even small differences in grappling skill can often predict the outcome of a fight at lower levels.
Meanwhile, Miguel's most recent fights have been close and exciting, in contrast to recent dominating performances by the likes of Machida and GSP.
It is my opinion that while Miguel's level of competition is perhaps not as high as that of the other P4P champions, the 37-1 record still merits consideration and an investigation into his skill set.
Miguel Torres possesses some of the best striking skills within the bantamweight division, as he is able to land clean and effective shots, while blocking or avoiding those of his opponents. At 5'9", Miguel's height and reach present significant problems for his opponents. Yet Torres is often able to land effective knees and shorter strikes within the clinch as well.
As previously mentioned, Torres is very adept at using the clinch. In this way, his wrestling is effective. But while his overall wrestling is above the average level within the division, it is by far his weakest attribute, as others have been able to take him to the ground with relative frequency. However, in Miguel's defence, there is a reason for this.
Torres possesses perhaps the most dangerous and versatile jiu-jitsu game in the bantamweight division. Any fighter who takes Torres down instantly finds himself on the defensive, as they attempt to avoid sweeps and submissions.
So fighters may be able to out-wrestle Torres, but in doing so all they do is choose which method of destruction they prefer: submission/ground and pound, or death by a thousand jabs.
So if he can out-strike most of the strikers, and out-grapple the guys who can take him down, the question remains: Who can beat Miguel Torres?
If there is anything that makes me hesitant about including Torres along with the big names in MMA, it is his propensity for getting himself into real wars. The Mizugaki and Maeda fights showed that if a fighter can control the pace and rythm of the fight, they have a shot at winning.
His tendency to use overly-risky techniques like the somersault kick he attempted against Tapia also make me question his ability to restrain his creativity, in the same way that Uriah Faber needed to restrain his creativity against Mike Brown.
Ultimately, I think there are not too many fighters that can beat Torres at 135.
A boxer/wrestler like Mizugaki, with just a little cleaner striking might just be able to beat Torres, as Torres was unable to find his rythm early and couldn't get the fight to the ground.
On the ground, the story is a little tougher. The thing about the 135lb division is that it is very conducive to Miguel's style. Torres uses what I like to refer to as "small-man jiu-jitsu," in that it emphasizes a lot of highly technical guard work and quickness.
The bantamweight division is full of this type of jiu-jitsu, but it simly isn't effective against Torres. If a fighter takes Torres down, they are only entering his world of bottom-guard.
The kind of ground fighter that can beat Torres on the ground is someone with more powerful jiu-jitsu. A good example of a powerful jiu-jitsu practitioner is GSP. He uses a devastating guard passing and top-position control. However, these fighters are not exactly common either.
I'll give my verdict in two parts, and start with the cautious part first.
1. Miguel Torres has benefited from a long string of wins over mediocre opponents, and a generally weaker bantamweight division. A lot of the MMA talent moved up to fight in the more lucrative featherweight and lightweight divisions. As illustrated above, there are some types of fighters that may yet pose serious challenges to the Reign of Torres.
2. Largely due to his recent exciting performances, the bantamweight division has become more lucrative and more popular. Many fighters are moving back down to their more natural weight classes, while the money is also there to bring other top-ranked bantamweight fighters to the WEC.
Over the next few years, Miguel will face the most serious challenges to his WEC crown, and will have a chance to build the legacy and fame that the bantamweight division has been waiting for. If Miguel Torres can learn to better control the pace of the fights, while utilizing his talent and creativity in a restrained manner, he certainly possesses the talent to meet his many upcoming challenges.
Until I'm done giving my thoughts on the other P4P contenders, I'll keep my official rankings to myself. Until then, there's a lot to debate.
In my next segment, I'll be taking a look at Anderson Silva.