UFC 139: Miguel Torres' road back to the top starts with Nick Pace on Nov. 19 in San Jose

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On Sat., Nov. 19, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight Miguel Torres will take on former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) competitor Nick Pace at UFC 139 in San Jose, California.

For those with short memories, Torres was once the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) bantamweight champion. During a stretch between 2003 and 2009, Torres reeled off 17 consecutive wins. The rest of the 135-pounders in the WEC were no match for his long reach and slick Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He was a dominant champion and was one of the prominent faces of his organization.

At UFC 139, just two years later, Torres finds himself fighting on the Facebook "Prelims" portion of the card, which is a far cry from the main event status he commanded just a few years ago. He will fight a guy who was fairly recently on a reality television show and who hasn't exactly been setting the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene ablaze.

So how did a fighter like Torres end up in his current predicament? How does a fighter go from being on top of the world to the bottom of the food chain in a manner of only two years?

After the jump, we'll take a look at the events that transpired to take Torres down the path that he has traveled, as well as what he can do to get back on top:

On Aug. 9, 2009, Torres took on Brian Bowles at WEC 42 in Las Vegas. Bowles entered the fight as the underdog, but was riding an impressive seven-fight win streak.

Though Torres was running through opponents at the time and looked somewhat unbeatable, Bowles was making a name for himself with a furious, fast-paced style that earned him four finishes in each of his first four WEC contests.

When the two finally collided in "Sin City" on that fateful night, it looked as though Torres had finally met his match. Bowles was faster. His power clearly was something that Torres was not used to and for which he seemingly had no answer. Then, at 3:57 of the very first round, Bowles sent the champion to the canvas with a knockout blow that would be the beginning of his undoing.

Torres returned to the WEC cage on March 6, 2010. His opponent, Joseph Benavidez, was a top prospect and looked to test his mettle on the big stage. 

Again, Torres experienced a significant speed deficit. Benavidez worked him for just over a round, then took him down to the mat, which most believed was Torres' world, cut his wig wide open and then finished him with a guillotine choke in the second round.

Just a few months later, Torres was able to collect himself and gain some redemption with a rear naked choke victory over journeyman tough-guy Charlie Valencia at WEC 51 on Sept. 30 in Colorado. Shortly thereafter, Torres won his UFC debut in a unanimous decision victory over Antonio Banuelos at UFC 126 on Feb. 5, 2011, in Las Vegas, giving him a two-fight streak and a new lease on his fight life.

But then in his next appearance, Torres faced another bump in the road when he lost a very close decision to Demetrious Johnson. Some felt that Torres actually should have been awarded the decision. "Mighty Mouse" went on to get a title shot against Dominick Cruz.

How about Torres?

The owner of quite possibly the most famous mullet in all of MMA now finds himself fighting on the early Facebook prelims, challenging someone who probably never would have even got a chance to fight him during the WEC days.

If he wins decisively, he may be able to silence the critics and get back on the right track again. Should he lose or even look poor in victory, the former champion may find himself stuck in limbo.

What do you think, Maniacs? Was Torres overrated? Did his move to the UFC expose him as not being as strong a bantamweight as originally supposed? Or was he just experiencing a rough patch in his career? How do you see his UFC 139 match up with Nick Pace going down?

Comments, please!

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