How does a 23-year-old two-time national champion and two-time world champion with a 26-1 record in mixed martial arts land so early in the Titan FC 38 card tonight with a 1-0 record?
Jose “Shorty” Torres is a native of the Chicago area, who started martial arts at a young age, wrestled in college and competed as a bantamweight in amateur MMA for almost five years. In 2014 and 2015, he became the only person to win both the national and world tournaments for the relatively new International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).
“The reason why I had so many amateur fights is because I wanted to finish school,” Torres told Combat Press. “Just in case things don’t work out with MMA, I wanted something to fall back on, so I ended up getting my degree in sports exercise science. When I started MMA at Combat-Do with Master Bob Schirmer, he said, ‘I want you to have 20 fights. I don’t care if you’re 0-20 or 20-0. I just want you to have the experience. You don’t want to go in there 5-0 and lose your first fight.’”
That was a great plan for Torres, and he definitely did not go 0-20. By the time he finished his amateur career, he had 25 wins, only one loss, and is widely considered one of the most decorated amateurs in the world.
“I was able to win the world championships twice, and was the only person in the world able to do that,” Torres said. “To be able to beat pro-level guys at the amateur level at the world tournament was a nice little test to see where I was at. Because of that, I was able to get signed with Titan FC, and also KHK MMA.”
The kid from the Midwest has gone a long way in a short time, but that path seemed to be set from the beginning. Torres grew up in a rough part of town, but his parents led him down the path to success.
“I’m from Chicago and when I was younger, I watched a lot of Jackie Chan, Power Rangers, Dragon Ball Z, and I always wanted to be a hero,” Torres explained. “When I was younger, I always played ball with my dad, and my mom would always take me to karate, so it was instilled in me to be the good guy. I wanted to fight for what I cared about, so MMA seemed like the perfect sport for me. Luckily for me, I ended up being decent at it.
“I did karate from four to 16. I was able to get my black belt in Shotokan Karate, the same style as Lyoto Machida. I joined Combat-Do at 16, I started wrestling at 14, and I tried to make the basketball team, but I guess the 5-foot-4 guy didn’t make the team. I ended up being an All-American in college in wrestling, getting a full-ride in Division II. At Combat-Do with Master Bob Schirmer, I was able to do judo, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, boxing, pankration, San shou, Muay Thai, pretty much anything – you name it – I’ve done. So, I have titles in Muay Thai, kickboxing, wrestling, MMA, and it’s been an awesome experience as an amateur.”
While competing as an amateur, Torres first wrestled at Triton Community College, and then moved over to McKendree University, where he earned his college degree. After that, he was ready for the next step of his fighting career. He went pro, and his first fight was at Titan FC 37 in March, where he submitted Travis Taylor in the first round. He was a bit nervous at first, but that wore off quickly.
“When I got signed with Titan FC, there was a lot of hype around me, so I had no choice but to win,” Torres intimated. “There was a lot of anxiety on fight day, but I was able to pull off the win in two minutes and nine seconds. So, now, I just feel super comfortable with my next opponent. He’s 8-8, has 16 pro fights, he’s never been finished, and he’s a veteran of the sport. I only have one pro fight. It’s going to be a great test to see where I’m at.”
Tonight, Torres will face Brazilian Reynaldo Duarte, who trains at American top Team. On a two-fight losing streak, Duarrte will be looking for a big win, but Torres likes the match-up.
“He seems to be more of a wrestler, ground-and- ound type of guy,” said the Illinois native. “He doesn’t really throw much. He maybe throws a leg kick and a hook, but he doesn’t do much. I believe in almost every aspect, I’m better than him. One of the hardest things he has is that he’s durable. He’s been through 16 fights, he’s never been finished, and I’ve seen some where he’s been in horribly bad positions and he does not give up. That’s one of my goals for the fight – I want to be able to finish him.”
Ready to continue his winning ways at the pro level, Jose Torres is battle-tested and much more comfortable after his first pro win. Tonight is his chance to do what he has always done – be a hero and win fights to help others.
“Truthfully, I’m not the type of guy that says, ‘I want to be a champion.’ I started it because of the sport, and I want be a role model, and I want to be a hero. And that’s all I want to do. I’m trying to make it out of my neighborhood in Chicago, and so far I’ve been doing pretty good. I want to inspire people not just in fighting, but in whatever you want to do in your life.”