Fighting For Fame
Trained in a variety of fighting styles, Roosevelt High grad Anthony ‘The Crush’ Torres is determined to win the TV reality show Ultimate Fighter 2
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Torres, shown training, can’t
reveal how Ultimate Fighter 2
Anthony Torres doesn’t even see it coming. The reality TV star and mixed martial artist is sitting at home, trying his best to explain the origin of his nickname, "The Crush," when like an overhand right from out of the blue, he is blindsided by a question:
Is it true that one of your other nicknames is "Pretty Boy"?
For a brief moment, the articulate fighter with the kind of chiseled, good looks to attract a throng of admirers, is left speechless.
But resilient as ever, the man with the type of footwork only jiu-jitsu expert could possess, is right back on his feet — and bursting with laughter.
"Who said that?" he demands. When told the source of the comment is an acquaintance and fellow fighter, Torres responds with a playful warning: "You tell him that the next time I see him, it’s on!"
While the 27-year-old Honolulu resident neither confirms nor denies the "Pretty Boy" moniker, he does confess that "The Crush" came by way of Rich Franklin, the current Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title-holder.
"Actually," he explains, "Rich first started calling me ‘Blue Crush’ while I was training under him" — an obvious trib- ute to the fighter’s Island roots as well his style of "taking the top" of his opponents before falling upon them like a giant wave. "But I preferred that he just call me ‘The Crush.’ Of course, that’s when my manager Patrick Freitas of Icon Sport joked that the nickname also fit because I’m a ladies’ man."
So you are popular with ...?
"Let’s just say that I am single right now," interrupts Torres, his embarrassment beginning to grow again by the second.
Ladies, you may begin forming a single-file line to the right.
"If the right woman comes along," he adds, "and things click in all the right ways, well then, who knows?"
Love life aside, Torres’ fighting career seems to be clicking just fine these days.
He is one of 18 up-and-coming mixed martial artists brought together from around the country for the Spike TV hit reality show The Ultimate Fighter 2 — which launched its second season Aug. 22. Every Monday from now until the series’ conclusion Nov. 5, contestants trained in such fighting styles as jiu-jitsu, judo, Muay Thai, karate, boxing and wrestling will compete in physical events to decide who will meet in the famed octagon. Slowly, the contestants will be eliminated until only two champions are left standing, each in their respective weight-class divisions.
With coach Rick Rodrigues
Although the eventual winners are guaranteed six-figure contracts with UFC, the spoils are not reserved solely for the victors.
"Even the guys who didn’t win from Season One still got their foot in the door," says Torres, who applied for UF2 on a whim back in April and beat out hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. "So it was really a great situation for all of us."
Fighting in the welterweight division, Torres survived the first two weeks of cuts, in which the contestants were put through a tortuous training session in order for the coaches, Franklin and Matt Hughes (UFC welterweight champ), to identify the group’s weakest links and send them packing. Thus far in the competition, two heavyweights (Kerry Schall and Eli Josin) and two welterweights (Kenny Stevens and Melvin Guillard) have been eliminated.
Stevens’ situation, in particular, demonstrates how the pressure-packed circumstances of the competition often leave the fighters mentally fragile. Forced to shed 20 pounds in one day, Stevens eventually crumbled under the stress, falling five pounds short of the goal simply because of his unwillingness to finish "cutting weight."
"It was tough on all of us, it was grueling," explains Torres of his six-week summer stay in Las Vegas, where the series was taped and where he lived under the same roof with the rest of the contestants. (Due to a confidentiality agreement, Torres cannot discuss the results of UF2.)
"Physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, all of us were tested. What it all came down to was heart — who had it and who didn’t."
Heart and mental toughness were never questions with Torres’ makeup — in large part because he grew up under the watchful eye and furious fists of a demanding older brother.
"This brother of mine didn’t really respect me," the fighter explains. "He would constantly pound me to try and toughen me up. It was almost like I had to prove myself as his equal. In a sense, it worked because I got a lot tougher. And everything that I do now is to prove him wrong. But at the same time, the way he treated me eventually drove us apart. It’s unfortunate that we’re no longer close."
The youngest of five children, Torres grew up in a middle class family in Saipan, where his father — a former business owner and current congressman — and mother still reside. A mixture of Chamorro, Irish and Spanish, he moved to Hawaii when he was 12, but only after spending a couple of years with family in the Mariana Islands as well as in California.
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