Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
To read part 1 click here: http://www.combatlifestyle.com/words/gdetail.php?id=117
I slept at least a full 8 hours and I found myself waking up at 9:00am wondering what time Miguel would get up. He said that he was feeling pretty tired and that he would sleep in on Wednesday. Well normally he has training at 9am, and within minutes of opening my eyes I started to hear footsteps above me that indicated SOMEONE was up. Those footsteps made their way downstairs as Miguel had sent Jyllian to wake me up. I grabbed my camera and went upstairs to the kitchen where I found Miguel selecting pieces of fruit from a large bowl. He took an apple and an orange, and I started peeling a banana as Jyllian made him a smoothie.
It was pretty much wake up and go as I threw all my bags into the trunk of the charger. I was hungry, but Miguel's training partner for the day was already at the gym waiting for him. He gave Yelena some attention and even in waking she had a huge smile for me that morning. We headed out in the bright blue yonder and I found myself scrambling for my sunglasses after only making it five feet out the door.
On the way to the gym, he started talking about the flood that happened the past winter in the area where he lived. He said that it was the type of flood that came only once every hundred years so people didn't have flood insurance and were unprepared. It ended up coming two years in a row and as we passed certain points he showed me unbelieveable levels that the waters reached. So many people in the area lost their homes and their businesses, including Miguel himself. He said that people stll don't have flood insurance in that area because its not SUPPOSED to flood there.
Within minutes we pulled up in front of the gym and I watched as he pulled the pink duffel bag that Jyllian had packed for him that morning. It had several changes of clothes, as well as clean shakers for his protein shakes later. The large parking lot next to the gym was pretty full but he had founs a space with ease and we entered the gym moments later.
Juan was already there waiting on the mats as we walked in and Miguel didn't hesitate as he ran to change. Juan is Miguel's newest up and comer; he's fighting on the Iron Heart Crown next weekend at 170. Miguel mentioned that Juan had a ton of potential and was undefeated at 6 and 0. Miguel bowed to the mat before he stepped onto it and then he and juan spent the next hour grappling. I was hungry and craving a breakfast burrito so St Albe took me to his favorite Mexican fast food place across the freeway.
When we got there, he said,"You know this place is good. Look at the grease coming out the airconditioning vents outside!" I looked and was grossed out by the site, but as I went in and looked at the food being served around me, I knew he was right. I ordered a breakfast burrito and chips and guacamole. We grabbed it to go and headed back to the gym. I took a bite of my burrito to find that the west coasts version of a breakfast burrito is very different than the midwest one. I was expecting eggs, potatoes and some meat, and the whole thing was meat and sour cream with a tiny bit of egg. I turned to my chips and guac and wrapped up the item that I didn't want to eat.
Miguel was done rolling with Juan and turned to do some strength and conditioning excercises on his own. This included light weights and plyometrics. He seemed tireless as he rotated stations every sixty seconds. When he was done, he went upstairs to shower and change and then came down and prepared his recovery shake. His uncle has snuck in at some point and was laying carpet in what was soon to be Miguel's apartment for his training camp; he planned on moving in the week following UFC. He was hungry so we took off to a local thai restaurant to grab a bite to eat.
When we walked in, three ladies that worked there all said in unison,"Watch your step!" As I looked at the bright red, 12 inch letters on the floor, I thought, you don't say.." We were seated in the near empty restaurant and within moments the waitress was taking our order. I ordered chicken with broccoli, add cashews and sticky rice, and Miguel ordered basil fried rice and pad thai (level 5! Geez he likes it spicy!). He received a phone call while we were waiting for our food from the WEC stating they were sending a camera crew out to film at 6pm.
Our conversation turned to his fight and he talked about how he didn't have a game plan, how he just trained and went in there to fight. He also talked about the fact that Carlson Gracie had passed away leaving him as a brown belt. He had gone in search of a new teacher so that he could step up to a black, but after hearing this, Carlson Gracie Junior awarded him the much deserved belt after his fight against Maeda in June.
We finished our lunch and took our leftovers to go. Miguel was craving coffee (fighters and their coffee; I swear!) so we killed two birds with one stone by heading to Border's books. He fulfilled his caffeine fix and he did a quick commercial for Fight magazine. Ok, well he actually went in to see if the issue of Fight! that he graces the cover with had hit the stores at that time. It hadn't but he took a moment to shamelessly promote Josh Barnett's cover. After grabbing a coffee from Seattle's Best located inside Borders, posing with a kitty cat cookie, we jumped into his charger and went back to the gym.
I had brought all of my lighting equipment with me to Chicago anticipating that I might do some photo shoots. I took some down time on wednesday afternoon to set up my lights and do a shoot of Miguel. He had many flags lining the wall of his gym so I thought it would make the perfect backdrop for a shoot. After using St Albe to light test, I grabbed Miguel and spent about 30 minutes shooting him in his gi, without the gi, without the WEC Bantamweight Belt, and most importantly, with it. I didn't want to take too much time from his afternoon nap (or mine, lol) so I made quick work of the shoot before breaking down all my equipment. Here's two photos from the shoot:
He talked about the fact that he wears brown shorts in his fights. He did that because he was a brown belt. Now that he is a black belt though, he still wears brown because he took a liking to the color. You can often find him wearing brown and pink. I teased him and said he should join American Fighter because thats the colors they sport as well!
He had a couple hours of down time that he spent on the computer looking at the Underground and napping. He never posts but he does look to see what people are saying. This is actually how a lot of the fighters are.. At 5pm, Eugene Calderon came in to teach a Tae Kwon Do class. There were only two kids in the class and as a result received a lot of personal attention. Eugene has been with Miguel for many years teaching at his schools.
The 6pm class started arriving as early as 5:30 and Miguel kicked back with them in the couch area. Jyllian showed up with Yelena around that time too. The kickboxing class began and Miguel wrapped his hands and started warming up by shadowboxing. He had told me earlier that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were his toughest days of training. I was about to find out why.
He spent the next couple hours hitting pads with Eugene. He worked on punches, combos, kicks, standing up. They worked on the thai clinch, and knees, before they took it to the ground and worked on ground and pound and elbows. Everytime I watch this, I realize; you have to be in great shape to hold pads for a fighter- it's almost like you're actually fighting.
The WEC camera crew was supposed to be there by 6, but I guess they had gotten lost and stuck in traffic for the last couple hours so they didn't show up till almost 8. He was done hitting pads by then, but turned to spar with Juan for the second time that day. I was amazed as I watched how Miguel's flexibility helped him get into positions and submissions that many would never be able to pull off.
Jyllian had taken the kickboxing class at 6, and at 8, the jujitsu class; Yelena was watched by one of the other mom's hanging out as she trained. Yelena ran around her playground staying off the mats on the carpet area of the gym. We laughed as she walked over to the weights to try and pick one up that was 4 times her size. By this time, Miguel was done training and was sitting on a bag along the walk making a recovery drink.
The WEC set up their camera to interview him in both English and Spanish. Then he took them on a tour of the gym; something he did for the cameras in both languages as well. It was after 9pm by this time and we had to head downtown for the Fight Chix fight preparty @ Sushi Samba.. You can read about those adventures here: http://www.combatlifestyle.com/words/gdetail.php?id=115
It was great getting to spend some quality time getting to know Miguel. It's tough when you see a person in passing at the fight events. He's always been a super funny guy to be around, and always nice and friendly to everyone. It was a real treat to see behind the scenes of a fighter that many have not even heard of yet. I look forward to seeing what this guy is capable of doing in the WEC's Bantamweight division; he's definitely a force to be reckoned with!
To check out all the photos we have of Miguel Torres, please go to http://www.combatlifestyle.com/migueltorres