A few months ago, Jose Torres’ wish finally came true. But the timing did not work out, at all.
Torres, the Titan FC bantamweight and flyweight champion, has been calling for a shot in the UFC since capturing his first MMA pro title over a year ago. A natural flyweight, Torres is one of the hottest prospects in the lower weight classes. Before turning pro in early 2016, Torres (5-0) had an extensive run on the amateur circuit, recording a record of 25-1.
He has accomplished a lot in less than two years, including becoming a two-division champion in an organization streamed on UFC Fight Pass. He won the interim Titan FC 125-pound title in his third pro fight, defended it once after being promoted to undisputed champ, and in his last fight, he returned to 135 pounds and dethroned champ Farkhad Sharipov.
“I’ve done something that Conor McGregor has done,” Torres told BloodyElbow.com. “I believe it was 14 fights, he was 12-2 when he became the Cage Warriors double-weight-class champ. I did it at 5-0, and in that process I was able to defend the belt. I’m doing stuff that people haven’t done, mainly as fast.”
Torres defeated Sharipov with ease, but he broke his hand and tore his MCL in that May fight, forcing him to sit out to recover from then until now. He is set to return to the Titan FC cage Friday night in the Titan FC 46 main event. He meets Gleidson DeJesus for the bantamweight title.
During his forced time off, ‘Shorty’ received the long-awaited call. He was asked three times to fight at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, a new feeder league for the UFC, but had to decline all three offers due to his injuries. In late summer, Torres got an even better call: he was offered Justin Scoggins in a short-notice fight. Scoggins was just coming off a loss to Yuta Sasaki in June and the UFC wanted to get the flyweight back in the cage as soon as possible, Torres said. But Torres, again, had to say no. And it really sucked, he said.
“They were like, ‘Hey Shorty, we need a last-minute guy. You’ve been complaining to us that you want to fight.’” Torres recounted. “And I go, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been injured. I really appreciate you giving me the call, but I’m not gonna fight until November. I want to be able to get a full training camp to know that I am 100 percent and to know that I can do this without hurting myself again — I want to heal just once.
“It kind of sucks, because it feels like instant karma in a sense. I was complaining, complaining, complaining about (not) getting a call, (not) getting a call, (not) getting a call, and now I get a call and I can’t take it. One, I know I’m annoying them, and two, when they call me and I deny them, it’s kind of more of a slap in the face to them, and it’s obviously accidental.”
Some fighters have shared stories in the past about their interactions with the current and former UFC matchmakers – Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, and Mick Maynard. It seems as if turning down a fight – never mind four fights – is the recipe to being shelved for as long as the matchmakers want, or the key to never being signed. Some fighters have said that you have to pick up the phone and be as company-friendly as possible if you want to stay active in the UFC.
Torres isn’t concerned about the possibility of displeasing the matchmakers after turning down four fights offers. He doesn’t expect that to be an issue, and said that after his upcoming fight in Florida, there is no way he won’t get another call.
“It’s not me denying because it is negotiation issues or I just don’t want to take that type of opponent. It was more, realistically, I can’t take the fight right now; I’m injured,” he said. “I definitely know they understand, and I’m a young prospect coming up. I think because of my record and my accolades and everything I’ve been able to do, after Nov. 17, if everything keeps on going on a high note, it’s really hard for them to deny me.”
Ideally, Torres wants to make his Octagon debut at the end of the year; he is eyeing UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas as the perfect card on which to make his debut. He’d be willing to take something in the first quarter of 2018, of course, but he did set his New Year’s resolution nearly a year ago as that he would sign with the UFC in 2017. And that’s something he, well, wants to fulfill.
Torres named the winner of Tim Elliott vs. Scoggins (since he was offered Scoggins already) as a potential first opponent – coincidentally, Elliott was the Titan FC flyweight champ when Torres was crowned the interim titleholder; Torres was given Elliott’s title when Elliott re-signed with the UFC after winning The Ultimate Fighter 24 and a title shot against Demetrious Johnson.
If Torres wants on the UFC 219 fight card, the Elliott vs. Scoggins winner doesn’t seem too realistic, as that fight is happening two weeks earlier at UFC on FOX 26 in Winnipeg. Torres also mentioned Jarred Brooks as a potential debut fight, since he was going back and forth with “The Money God” on social media a few months ago.
“I think the best card would be Dec. 30,” Torres said. “No one is slated as the main event. It’s the Las Vegas card, and I think it’s a nice card to where if I am decently banged up, I have two weeks of recovery, and then I have a full month to make sure my weight is down and I still have another training camp to go into. If they want me for Dec. 2 card, so be it, but I prefer [Dec. 30]. Plus, I’m very, very prideful; I set last year, in 2016, as my 2017 New Year’s resolution that I will be in the UFC. And that’s something I still am trying to seek out and December is my last chance to do it.”