EXCLUSIVE | Phil Daru expects “revived” Tecia Torres at UFC 235

Tecia Torres, Weili Zhang
Image: @ufc on Instagram

Tecia Torres, who began her career down at American Top Team before moving to Colorado to be with her fiancee Raquel Pennington, found herself back at the Coconut Creek, Florida gym for her UFC 235 training camp. In her return home, Torres’ strength and conditioning coach Phil Daru has seen a difference in the strawweight contender.

In an interview with BJPenn.com, Daru talked about the preparation for Torres’ with her UFC 235 matchup against Weili Zhang, Torres’ return to American Top Team, and more.

Daru said a loss to former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is what led to the return to ATT for Torres, and he couldn’t have been happier for her.

“She needed something different after she lost to Joanna, she knew she needed to come back to American Top Team,” he said. “For me, I was happy to see her. She’s one of the first fighters I coached when I became a coach at ATT because she loves to do it. She loves to train, she loves to do her strength and conditioning, she loves to lift weights and she loves to get in there and grind it out while having fun with it. When it comes time to get down to business, she does what she needs to do. I think it was overall a breath of fresh air for her.”

With the return to Florida has come progression and overall increase in production for Torres inside her strength and conditioning routine. Daru says he’s seen her set new personal records for herself and that has also shown a clearer state of mind as well.

“She’s always been a wiry fighter. She’s a little fireball, that’s why she’s called Tiny Tornado, she’s all over the place,” he said. “What we were able to do from the jump, you can see increase in overall strength, she’s set personal records in her lifts. She increased her endurance, she increased her strength, and she obviously increased her explosive power, so with that, it was a good camp. I’m happy to see her back and doing what she needs to do to be successful.”

Not only was Tecia Torres young during her first stint with ATT, but she had a lot of other obligations in her personal life that kept her busy as well. Daru says now he sees a more clear mind for Torres and a less busy schedule has factored into that.

“I think that she’s grown, before she was a lot younger and she was going through things as she was going for her Master’s degree. There was a lot of things she had going on outside of training that was definitely a distraction but now she was 100% focused on the fight and fight camp. She didn’t have to worry about going to class or a mid-term or anything like that, she was able to just actually train and that’s it, so it was good.”

Seeing the growth in her personal life as well as inside her training camp, Phil Daru says that he expects to see a revived Tecia Torres, because she’s learned from winning and losing big fights, and by clearing out the outside work which has allowed her to just focus on her training.

“I think you’re going to see a revived individual,” he said. “Someone who has won big fights and lost big fights, I think she’s come back with a new sense of security. She knows what she can do and she’s going to have fun, and she knows what she needs to do and she’s going to enjoy the process, that’s what she’s done this whole camp and that’s why she’s going to go out and dominate.”

After her last two fights went to a decision, Daru says the move back to Florida will be instrumental to the revival of Torres’ career.

“I think for her to come back to Florida, to change things up, to know she needs to get with a quality team and quality coaches was a big deal. She didn’t have a whole lot in Colorado and so she wasn’t getting the things she needed in her training camp.”

What does it all mean for Torres’ growth now that she made her return to American Top Team? For Daru, the physical differences will lead to greater success and opportunities for Tecia Torres now that she’s surrounded herself back with the team she needs to have.

“Well, you’re going to see a revamped version of Tecia Torres,” he said. “I think she’s going to be strong in the clinch, I think she’s going to be even more explosive. As far as her punching ability, I think she’ll pack a bigger punch. She’s been working a lot on her striking, her kicks, and her ground game with Mike Brown, so I think it’s going to be a good change. You’re going to see a lot more tools in her toolbox.”

Returning back home to Florida has brought a new energy for Tecia Torres, and at UFC 235 she’ll face a very respectable opponent in Weili Zhang. With experience fighting former champions and title contenders, Tecia Torres appears ready, with her American Top Team behind her, to show that moving home has her prepared for every fight that comes her way.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/1/2019.