On Saturday night, for the second time in her career, Tecia Torres (7-1) will square off against Bec Rawlings (7-5). Their first meeting was in The Ultimate Fighter house. Their second is set for the FS1 prelim card under UFC Fight Night: Bermudez vs. Korean Zombie, live from Houston, TX.
In 2014 Torres beat Rawlings via decision to advance The Ultimate Fighter 20, a series which would eventually crowned Carla Esparza as the UFC’s first 115lb champion. Torres told Bloody Elbow that her first meeting with Rawlings, “was a competitive fight.” However, Torres believes she may have won that fight more decisively if she had not been suffering from an injury she sustained during defeat to Randa Markos in an earlier bout on the show.
“I was coming off fighting a three round fight a week prior and having a little shoulder injury, but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my opportunity to get back on the show. So I fought through it,” said Torres who added that the pain from this injury forced her to sleep on her stomach and visit the show’s doctor on a daily basis.
Torres also said her performance versus Rawlings, like all her performances on TUF, suffered from her lack of comfort with The Ultimate Fighter reality show experience. “Mentally it wasn’t for me, that situation,” said Torres. Torres cites being away from friends, family, and regular coaches as the main reasons why competing in the TUF house was less than ideal.
Torres also agreed that the atmosphere on the UFC reality series suffered from interpersonal issues between various members of the cast. “In the first week everybody was pretty friendly and would talk to each other,” remembered Torres. “But by the times the fights started and people started losing, it got clique-ish and high school-ish.” Torres said she was “pretty much a neutral person”, but conceded that she did find herself embroiled in a few arguments inside the house.
Torres said she didn’t have much of a relationship with Rawlings on the show. According to her, they spoke during the first week, but after that – and once they were drawn on separate teams – there was no communication. Torres said that Rawlings avoided her even more once it was announced that they would be fighting each other.
Three years after their closely contested brawl in The Ultimate Fighter Training Center both women will face-off again, this time in front of thousands of fans in Houston’s Toyota Center. Torres admitted she’s surprised the rematch was booked. “I wasn’t expecting to have her as an opponent,” said Torres, who is ranked 6th in the UFC’s women’s strawweight rankings. “I asked for a few girls, but at the time I’d asked they weren’t unavailable and weren’t fighting.”
“It’s been a game of cat and mouse with me and the UFC, because I haven’t been injured, I’ve been ready to fight. I could have fought a long time ago. I haven’t fought in ten months. Maybe I didn’t do enough in my last fight to get a fight in the last ten months, but I was pushing for it and then they gave me the Bec fight and I was like, ok.”
Despite facing an unranked opponent, who she has previously beaten, Torres said she would be “stupid” to underestimate the threat posed by Rawlings. “I’m definitely not going to underestimate her by any means,” enforced Torres. “I’ve felt her punches before, I’ve felt her strength before, so I’m gonna be ready for that and whatever else she wants to bring to the table.”
To prepare for Rawlings Torres tried something different. For training camp, she spend half her time with the familiar faces at American Top Team, but the remainder she spent in Colorado, where she trained with her partner Raquel Pennington’s coaches. “It was awesome,” said Torres about splitting time between ATT and Pennginton’s camp. “I really enjoyed training with her coaches and training at high altitude. I’m feeling really great and I think my cardio will be the best in this fight, so I’m looking forward to seeing how much output I can deliver.”
Along with training for a mixed martial arts contest, Torres has also been in school. For the past few years Torres has been enrolled in a Masters program with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) with a focus on Criminology. She is due to graduate in May. Torres already holds Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Sociology.
In a previous interview with Bloody Elbow Torres explained that she wished to finish fighting before she turned thirty. Torres, who turns twenty-eight in August, confirmed this was still her plan. After fighting Torres hopes to work in the criminal justice system, perhaps within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Though, she would prefer a role which did not require her to carry a firearm. “I want to start a family soon too,” added Torres who admitted that her excitement over plans outside the cage have made it difficult for her to focus solely on fighting. “I feel like it’s a struggle right now, a little bit, but I think a good win would put me back in there with more motivation, I guess.”
With her MMA career winding down (by choice), Torres wasn’t forthcoming on whether she felt a need to clinch a UFC title before walking away from the sport. “I don’t know, we’ll have to see,” said Torres. “I have some thoughts in my mind, but they’re all over the place and always changing. We’ll see what happens in the next few fights and just go from there, but I’d like to get a nice big win in Texas.”
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