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IMMAF gold medalist Jose Torres recalls training with the Bahraini Prince ahead of Titan debut

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Few fighters garner as much attention as Jose Torres did ahead of his professional debut.

Young, ambitious, and articulate, Torres managed to parlay his natural gifts into an exceptionally impressive amateur run in mixed martial arts. Though he lost his first ever fight, he later compiled a 25-fight consecutive win streak in non-professional bouts, which made Jose is one of the most experienced competitors to debut in a North American promotion.

Jose is also a two-time gold medalist at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) tournament. He competed six times in 2015, including multiple bouts in the same week for the IMMAF tournament. Having participated in amateur competition between the age of 18 and 23, he was finally prepared to move on and profit from his achievements.

Naturally, his success during that time earned him quite the reputation, so much so that he received various offers from promotions interested in his professional debut, as well as an offer from a gym in the Middle East that wanted to incorporate him into their team. It was a team known as KHK MMA and was founded by Bahraini Prince Sheikh Khaled Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

"Bahrain had a decent squad at the IMMAF World Championships but sadly none of their guys placed. After I dominated at this year's tournament, I was contacted by some of the representatives of KHK. Then I got a call from Mohammad Shahid, who offered me a certain deal."

The offer came at a crossroads in Torres' life: He was supposed to move to Malaysia to start a new job there while training for a pro debut at ONE Championships. While his job would allow him to fund his fighting career, KHK took their offer a step further.

"KHK MMA's offer was unique: They would help me out financially, and all I had to do was represent your country and represent your people. They were not asking for anything else. "

KHK MMA's founder explained in a recent interview with BloodyElbow that the team's mission statement is to help support international fighters in order to allow them to accomplish their goals without sacrificing time holding onto part time jobs to help with finances. Once that financial anxiety is eliminated with their help, their fighters can simply focus on training full time.

According to Torres, the team is also about uniting fighters from around the world to benefit from each other.

"They are trying to unite people together from around the world. We have Americans like Frankie Edgar and myself, as well as Alex Soto from Mexico and a handful from Dagestan, Russia. We have James Gallagher from Ireland, as well as guys from India and Bahrain. It is a small step to unite the world. It is a great opportunity."

The team also offers extensive medical coverage to all the fighters in the gym, which is hugely beneficial to those involved. Khabib Nurmagomedov regularly flew to Bahrain following his most recent knee injury to complete his rehabilitation process there instead of in Dagestan or the United States. He is not the only one who had enjoyed the advantages of the team.

"One of our wrestling coaches, Eldar Eldarov, chipped his tooth right in half. From there, the next day he came back to the gym with a full tooth. Everything was completely taken care of."

"During the first two days I was there, everyone was rolling around and feeling each other out. Before I knew it, I was sitting next to some sweaty guy and we're having a really good conversation. I told him that I can't wait to meet Sheikh Khaled and tell him how happy I am to be on the team. Out of nowhere, that guy leaves and comes back in his black thoub (traditional Middle Eastern attire) and everyone just stopped. I was confused but everyone stood up and gave him full attention.

"That is when I realized that it was the Sheikh."

Though Torres was worried about his future for a split second, he quickly realized that the Prince was more down-to-earth than he had expected.

"When you see him, if he is ready to get the attention, he commands it. But he rolls around with everyone else and gets beat up. He doesn't expect you to treat him any differently besides when it is supposed to be an open ceremony in public."

However, despite his good relationship with the team's founder, that did not stop Torres from being pranked by him during his first visit.

"They told me not to look at Sheikh Khaled in the eyes. They said he doesn't like that and they'll hurt you (laughs)."

Apart from the resources available to him at KHK MMA, Torres completes a portion of his training in his home base of Chicago, where he also enlisted the support of nutrition guru Lou Giordano to help him make weight for his Titan FC debut. Jose is scheduled to meet Travis Taylor, who holds a 7-5 amateur record on Friday, March 4 in Ridgefield, Washington.

Perfectly aware and appreciate of the opportunities that have come his way, Torres plans on validating those decision and proving that he was worth the long-term investment.

"It is an honor to represent His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Hamad Al Khalifa. He gives me an opportunity not to work. I get the chance to do what I do every day and be financially stable because of it."