Jose “Shorty” Torres never expected the grieving process to hit him quite so hard.
Less than two days before he was scheduled to compete for the Brave CF flyweight title in Bahrain, the 27-year-old veteran was forced to pull out of his scheduled showdown with Marcel Adur after his body shut down during weight cutting as he desperately tried to push through to the fight following the loss of his father a few weeks ago.
Pulling out of the fight was the last thing that Torres wanted to do, but after suffering through a panic attack while trying to shed the last few pounds, he knew there was no way he would be ready to compete on Friday.
“Today I went to the sauna and I ended up having a panic attack. Even though I’m doing the work, my body was failing me. I feel like I’m going to pass out. It just wasn’t happening. I started crying, I felt like I was passing out, I started hyperventilating. I just started venting,” Torres told MMA Fighting from Bahrain.
“Sadly we came together and we said we can’t do this. We thought we could and we tried our best. We ended up going to Brave and I felt bad for my opponent because I’ve had championship fights where the guy backed out from me. I feel extremely horrible doing it but I’m starting learn that I need to take care of myself, too.”
While the culmination of his grief manifested this week as he prepared to compete on Friday, Torres had really been silently suffering over the past month since his father passed away.
He actually received the news that his father suffered a heart attack while he was traveling to a different Brave show where he was part of the commentary team. After returning home, Torres thought that his father was pulling through his emergency surgery and that’s when he got the call that felt like a gut punch.
“I made it back from Abu Dhabi to American Top Team to finish my camp, thinking my father was going to be OK. I get the call the next day that it’s either let him go peacefully or we can resuscitate him,” Torres said. “My mom called me and said ‘you need to make your way back home.’
“I ended up sparring that morning because I know that’s something my dad would have wanted. After the sparring session was over, I immediately cried over [Alexandre] Pantoja’s shoulder after we had some really hard rounds. I took my stuff and flew home and got to see my father on his death bed before we had to pull the plug.”
In the aftermath of his father’s death, Torres took it upon himself to make all of the funeral arrangements to take that burden away from his mother.
Over the course of two weeks, Torres had his mind on a lot of things but fighting wasn’t one of them. Once they laid his father to rest, Torres was still convinced that he needed to move ahead with the fight as scheduled.
“I decided my father wanted me to fight but I didn’t know how much of a toll it’s going take on my performance,” Torres explained. “I’m away from my family at a very, very hard time. I’m worried about my family, worried about my mom. It was just such a huge thing because I’m the protector of my family. I wanted to make sure everybody was all right.
“Every single day I’m at home crying because I’m trying to be strong for them but I’m not giving myself a chance to grieve. Little by little, it just kept building to something more and I was trying to overcompensate with training. Sadly, I burnt myself out. I got really sick. I had some type of food poisoning and I just wasn’t feeling well. I decided to push forward, just ignoring the signs and symptoms.”
Despite all the problems he was facing, Torres wanted to push through the pain and go forward with the fight.
When he arrived in Bahrain for the start of fight week, the former UFC flyweight realized rather quickly that his body wasn’t cooperating with the weight cut and the issues just kept mounting with each passing day.
“Just mentally I was trying to push forward but physically, my body was just not doing what I wanted. For some reason, my body just reached a plateau as if I was already on weight. I was still around eight pounds over and my body was not reacting for me,” Torres said.
“Almost everyday I’m crying, I’m venting, I’m just out right blowing up crying. I’m not a person to do that. I never knew how much properly grieving was going to affect my performance. I didn’t give myself time to grieve. I just went straight back to work because that’s what I thought my father would want me to do.”
Eventually, Torres and his team knew that there was no way he should be stepping into a fight and they were forced to tell Brave officials that he was dropping off the card.
As disappointing as it was to lose the main event just days ahead of the show, Torres says that the officials from Brave could not have been more supportive in the aftermath of his decision to pull out of the fight.
“I spoke at the press conference, I opened up and actually cried while telling them while I had to pull out of my fight. But Mohammad Shahid actually gave me a hug, the prince of the country gave me a call to pay his respects, everyone that was there paid their condolences or respect,” Torres said. “Even my opponent as strained as he was because we’re a day before weigh-ins, he comes to me and says ‘it’s OK brother, go home to your family’. That meant the world to me.
“Brave and everyone took it so beautifully, and I can tell you this, I would have never expected that.”
Right now, Torres is just preparing to return home so he can actually spend some much needed time grieving the loss of his father alongside his family before he can even think about fighting again.
“I need to find myself again,” Torres said. “And hopefully find my passion again.”