Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reports of Miguel Torres' Pound-for-Pound Greatness May Have Been Slightly Overplayed

Just seven short months ago, Miguel Torres seemed to be on top of the world. He was 37-1, had never been stopped in his career, and a run of victories in the WEC had seen him considered a top-5 pound-for-pound fighter by many, and the most destructive force ever bestowed upon mortal man by Frank Mir. Analysts marveled at his ability to fight through adversity in a hard-fought decision victory over Takeya Mizugaki, and buzzed about how he ran through undefeated Manny Tapia and veteran Chase Beebe. Many wondered whether anyone in the division could defeat him. That’s not something many people are wondering about these days. Another thing people aren’t really wondering about anymore is what his skull looks like.

Turns out it looks pretty gross.

With Torres now sitting on the wrong side of two beatdowns, and the victims of his early run through the WEC sitting on a few more fights of their own, things look a little different. Mizugaki has split two fights since the defeat, the victory a squeaker of split decision. This from a guy won two early rounds against Torres before tiring in a fight he took at the last minute. Could Mizugaki, who has since looked like a mid-level fighter in the WEC, have won with a full camp? Tapia and Beebe are on a combined nine-fight losing streak. Yoshiro Maeda, the loser in Torres’ first defense, was out of the WEC one fight later. Bowles, who knocked Torres out to take the strap, received a decisive butt kicking of his own in his first defense, albeit with a broken hand. It all begs the question, has Torres really suffered a mighty fall at all, or was he just not that exceptional in the first place?
That’s the thing about ranking the smaller divisions like Bantamweight, where a dominant organization has only recently emerged. You’ve got to let all the coins go through sorter before you know where each belongs, and just because the first quarter has come through that doesn’t mean there’s not a half dollar just waiting atop the pile of pennies for its chance to be counted. With the cream of the crop only recently seeing the WEC as the place-to-be for fighters in a class, it takes time for enough fights to go down where you know who the best guys really are. Now, am I saying that Cruz should not be ranked #1 now, because how do we know if the division is still so unsettled? No, he’s earned that. But maybe we can learn something from Miguel Torres and Brian Bowles and realize that maybe, just maybe, simply holding a WEC belt shouldn’t guarantee a spot on a list otherwise populated by guys like Fedor, GSP, BJ and Anderson Silva. 

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