All good things must come to an end.
After enjoying several years at the top of his division, and in numerous "Pound-for-Pound" rankings, the widely-touted "unbeatable" Miguel Angel Torres was sent crashing to the mat this past Saturday, unconscious, courtesy of a younger fighter determined to make his own mark in the sport.
This was only the second time that Torres had been knocked out in his fight career, one that had spanned to over 40 fights.
The question is, how will Miguel Torres be remembered?
Post-Beebe, Torres would go on to make 3 defences of his title. However, even in those 3 fights, the frailties of Torres' game started to emerge. Wars of attrition with the Japanese imports, Maeda and Mizugaki, made people wonder if Torres was sacrificing what should have been easy victories for drawn-out wars for the sake of his fans. In particular, the Mizugaki match raised eyebrows because Mizugaki had fought on short notice and was a relative unknown at the time. The fight went closer than expected, although you wouldn't have guessed it if you were basing the outcome on Frank Mir's commentary.
(Mizugaki catches Torres with a punch, in a fight that went closer than people think, image via MMAWeekly)
After that, Torres lost two consecutive matches, a KO by way of Brian Bowles, and a submission courtesy of Joe Benavidez. Since switching to the UFC, he has gone 3-2, winning against Valencia, Banuelos and Pace (all of whom are no longer with Zuffa), and losing to Macdonald and Johnson. It seems that from his most recent fight, even hooking up with the acclaimed coaches in TriStar gym haven't changed his fortunes.
So where does Torres stand in MMA history?
Should his record mean that he deserves to be recognised as one of the 'first' best lighter weight fighters of all time, or was his success down to the alleged "Klitschko syndrome", that he was the greatest due to circumstance, that is, the lack of credible opponents at the time when he was champion?
Are his recent shortfalls against 'top-level' opponent a sign that his overall skillset is exposed, or has he just been in too many fights, and now he's just a little too old, too battle-weary, and too tired to compete with the younger, fresher, more determined fighters?
Where does he stand now in the promotion? Has he fallen from champion to gatekeeper in the space of 2 years?
Being a fan, I want to see Torres regain his throne at the top of the Bantamweight division.
Being a realist, I don't think he will.