This MMA fighter from Redding uses hands to break dough and faces

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Ethan Hanson
 
| Redding Record Searchlight

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The hands of 33-year-old Felipe Torres work diligently, kneading the white dough in a kitchen that is filled with the aroma of freshly sliced pork, beef, chicken and spices.

His hands press the dough into balls that are perfectly uniform in shape and smooth in texture. He’s making tortillas for his restaurant, Los Cachorros Taqueria, at the Cypress Square Shopping Center in Redding. On average, he rolls up to 4,000 tortillas per week.

Those hands that help delight his customers’ taste buds are also used to punch people and grapple opponents into submission. Torres is also a mixed martial artist.

“I started when I was 22 years old,” Torres said. “I was always into discipline and I had grown up boxing in Mexico.”

Torres was born and grew up in the state of Michoacan in Mexico before he eventually migrated to the United States and settled in Redding as a 20-year-old in 2007. 

Torres worked at Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurants for 13 years and was a kitchen manager before starting Los Cachorros in 2019. Now he’s carved out his own culinary identity using recipes that were passed down to him from his family.

In the cage, Torres has a brawler style of fighting. He isn’t afraid to stand up and fire a flurry of jabs and hooks. He can also close the distance and use his wrestling to gain the upper hand.

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Torres’ teammate Chris Marinelli has sparred and wrestled with Torres on numerous occasions. Marinelli says Torres carries the same calm nature he has in the kitchen into training. But once his intensity level is increased, that’s when he says Torres’ MMA skills really come out.

“(Torres) is an aggressive person,” Marinelli said. “He is known for taking the center of the cage and pushing forward and not letting his opponent have an inch of space. He’s one of the worst style fighters you can run into. If you have reach, he won’t let you have it. He’ll close the gap and put the pressure on you.” 

Torres has a record of 2-4 but says he loves the prefight intensity. His wife, Fabiola Torres, on the other hand, gets nervous because of the dangers the sport presents to combatants. 

“Everything feels fine until that night that he has to fight because I start chewing my nails off,” she said. 

Felipe and Fabiola own the restaurant with her parents, Efrain and Silvia Munoz. Even as the coronavirus pandemic led to some local businesses closing, Los Cachorros with it’s MMA fighting owner have continued to keep fighting. 

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His ability to create his own homemade flour tortillas have kept diners coming back. He makes them fresh daily. He makes traditional as well as “fire tortillas,” which are a mix of flour and hot Cheetos flakes.

While the restaurant is known for its “fire” quesadillas and burritos, Los Cachorros’ more traditional dish is birria, a steaming meat stew topped with onions and cilantro and served with tacos or quesadillas.

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Torres’ birria is a house special that’s only served on Fridays and Saturdays. 

The food served at the restaurant has become a favorite to businessman and former Redding Mayor Brent Weaver.

“What makes this place so great is the homemade tortillas,” Weaver said. “There’s a lot of great Mexican restaurants around Redding but I come for the homemade tortillas, they will blow your mind.” 

Torres has continued to keep Los Cachorros open despite the local economy being hit hard due to the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases and restrictions to stem the spread of the contagious respiratory illness.

During his time with Casa Ramos, Torres learned to not only cook but manage the financial side of the business.

Fabiola, who manages the restaurant, credits their loyal customers who help draw in new customers by writing positive reviews on various social media sites.

“We are so blessed by God and we have amazing supporters,” Torres said. “People have loved our food so much. Redding has been amazing to us.”

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Ethan Hanson started working for the Redding Record Searchlight after four years with the Los Angeles Daily News as a freelancer. His coverage includes working the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in South Bend, Indiana, and writing about the St. Louis Rams’ move to Los Angeles with the Ventura County Star. He began his career as a play-by-play broadcaster for LA Pierce College from 2011-2017. Follow him on Twitter at @EthanAHanson_RS.

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