UFC strawweight Tecia Torres’ (10-2) charge towards a title shot was halted in February when she came up against Jessica Andrade at UFC on FOX 28. After an entertaining brawl, it was Andrade who had her hand raised, securing her number two spot in the strawweight rankings and putting her within striking distance of champion Rose Namajunas.
Though Torres would have much preferred a shorter path to ‘Thug’ Rose, she got a pretty decent consolation prize from the Andrade fight; a match with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC on FOX: Alvarez vs. Poirier 2.
When speaking to Bloody Elbow Torres said she had no complaints about the result of her fight versus Andrade. “Well, basically I won the first round and lost the next two rounds,” she said. “She won, 29-28, and I thought it was fair.”
“I fought a lot of the fight going backwards,” added Torres when analyzing her performance. “Going into the fight, I thought she was going to do a lot more, I guess damage standing than she was actually capable of doing. But once I felt her punches and her takedowns, I was like, oh OK, nothing I haven’t felt before.
“So I think I just waited a little too much in the fight. I hesitated a lot. And then in the next two rounds she decided that striking with me wasn’t going to work so she continued to take me down and she’s a strong girl and was able to do it. Her game plan throughout the rest of the fight was to continue to take me down.”
Torres said she wasn’t surprised that Andrade’s game plan was to take her down. “I knew that my striking would be better than hers and that she would have to amount to wrestling with me. But you know, she is very strong. I’m very strong, but she was very strong and big. If we fought again, with her strength and how big she is, it really wouldn’t matter. I’m not saying that’s why she won. She won because she out-wrestled me, but if we fought again, things would be different.”
Despite the fight being an entertaining back and forth battle, it lost out on Fight of the Night honours to Ben Saunders vs. Alan Jouban. Torres admitted she was a little surprised to miss out on that treasured $50,000 bonus. “I felt that we were one of the more exciting fights of the night. So that kind of sucked. That would have helped with the loss, for sure.”
Torres’ disappointment at not getting the ‘50 Gs’ ebbed away when she discovered her next fight would be against a woman she had been chasing for the past few years. Granted, Jędrzejczyk held gold when Torres was first gunning for the fight, but a belt-less Jędrzejczyk still represents an excellent chance for Torres to finally get into the UFC strawweight title picture.
“I think our fight has title implications,” said Torres of the match-up. “I understand we’re both coming off a loss, but I feel like a win over her, or her getting a win over me, will get either of us a title shot down the line.”
Before being dethroned by Namajunas at last November’s UFC 217 Jędrzejczyk was considered one of, if not the, most dominant fighters in the sport. Over the latter part of her reign, the Polish fighter spent time training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fl.
The Florida super-camp was also the longtime home of Torres. She spent the majority of her career at ATT before moving to Colorado in 2017 to live and train with her partner, former UFC title challenger Raquel Pennington. Torres said her and Jędrzejczyk’s timelines at ATT overlapped by at least a year. But despite Jędrzejczyk spending two fight camps in the same gym as her, zero connection formed between the two strawweights.
“We never trained together,” revealed Torres. “She just did her own thing and I continued to do mine with the girls that are there. She just had her own camp. Basically, when I was there she was in town for camp and then she would go back to Poland or something. I never trained with her.”
The way Torres told it, Jędrzejczyk didn’t spend time training with any of the established, and highly successful, women’s fight team at ATT. Socially, Jędrzejczyk was just as cut off from Torres as she was in the gym.
“I never had a personal connection with her,” said Torres. “I never became friends with her or anything. We’d say ‘hello’ in passing, sometimes, but really we did our own thing.”
Someone Torres has trained with, and has a deeper connection with, is reigning champion Rose Namajunas. The pair have fought twice, once in Invicta and once in the UFC. Torres got the win in Shannon Knapp’s promotion, in a thrilling fight, and Namajunas evened the score by winning in the rematch in the Octagon.
Namajunas and Torres are based close to each other in Colorado and have trained together on occasion. Torres helped Namajunas prepare for Jędrzejczyk ahead of UFC 217, where Namajunas TKO’d Jędrzejczyk in the first round. For Torres’ current training camp, Namajunas has been able to return the favor — somewhat.
“We’ve been training a little bit here and there,” said Torres. “Rose is recovering from her last fight, but we trained together here and there.”
Jędrzejczyk was undefeated before she suffered her first loss to Namajunas. The pair met again at UFC 223 in April, where Joanna hoped to avenger herself and regain the belt. It was a closer fight, but Namajunas again got her hand raised, this time after a unanimous decision.
Despite Namajunas being the fighter who clearly knows best how to beat Jędrzejczyk in the cage, Torres said she isn’t relying on her occasional training partner/former foe for strategy.
“I prefer to keep it separate,” said Torres referring to her team’s game plan versus what knowledge Namajunas’ camp could impart. “At the end of the day, it’s me who is going in there. I mean, Rose and her team definitely know how to beat her, but me and my coaches have our own game plan.”
Jędrzejczyk is a “great fighter”, according to Torres, who elaborated by saying: “I think she’s great at what she does. Definitely her striking is her strongest suit in terms of fighting, but she’s really good at defensive wrestling and at not getting taken down. When she does get taken down, she’s very good at getting up. So, I think she is a pretty decently well rounded fighter. I’d say striking is where she excels the most. As far as me versus her, I’m a more well rounded fighter than she is.”
Something else Jędrzejczyk brings to the table is a propensity for trash-talk and a signature stare-down/weigh-in routine designed to intimidate. When asked if this is something Torres had thought about — or even prepared for — the former TUF cast-mate scoffed.
“No, I really don’t care for it to be honest with you. But so far I haven’t heard anything from her. She’s been quiet and I like that. I hope that means she is respecting me. Who knows what will happen come fight week, but I’ll be ready if she wants to do her normal fight antics or whatever you want to call it.”
Torres remains far more interested in what will happen inside the cage against the former strawweight champion. “I think it’s going to be a very exciting fight. Fast paced, high level, and a challenging fight for both of us. I’m really looking forward to going in there and showcasing some new skills and getting a big win over Joanna.”
Tune in to FOX on Saturday, July 28th to see if Torres can get the job done, and potentially set up a third contest with Namajunas. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Tecia Torres features on the main card of UFC on FOX: Alvarez vs. Poirier 2. The action, which comes to us live from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, starts at 8PM ET.