Lemoore, Calif. – As the old saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" and Tachi Palace Fights did just that on Monday when it found out that it’s main event on February 4 had to be scrapped.
Tachi Palace Fights learned on Monday that it’s first-ever title fight had to be canceled. The lightweight title showdown between Lemoore, Calif.’s Poppies Martinez (17-6) and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.’s Gabe Ruediger (15-5) had to be cut from the card when Martinez had to withdraw because of an injury.
"It’s an unfortunate situation. This was a big fight that a lot of people on the West Coast were looking forward to," Tachi Palace Fights matchmaker Richard Goodman said. "I think this is still a bout we can put together in the future and Gabe being the professional that he is was willing to stay on the card and fight, despite the change."
Goodman and Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino Entertainment Coordinator Jeremy Luchau wasted little time looking for a bout to bolster the fight card when the departure of Martinez, who has been a mainstay at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino the former home to both the Palace Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting, occurred.
The first change was making a featherweight special attraction bout between Fresno, Calif.’s Isaac De Jesus (8-1) and Westminister, Calif.’s Nam Phan (15-6) a five-round title fight for the featherweight strap.
"It was an easy decision for us. We wanted to have a pair of title fights on the card and we knew that we still wanted to match Poppies and Gabe down the road, so it seemed logical to make Isaac and Nam a title fight," Luchau said.
But Tachi Palace Fights’ officials didn’t stop there, as the biggest announcement on Monday came with the signing of Orange County, Calif.’s Hector Ramirez (8-3-1) for a middleweight showdown with Coarsegold, Calif. Anthony Ruiz (23-13).
Ramirez is an Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran and was a coach for Team Rampage on the latest season of Spike TV’s hit show "The Ultimate Fighter".
"I’m very excited to be fight for an established organization like Tachi. I will be making my 185-pound debut. I don’t know much about my opponent, but I’m sure it will be exciting," Ramirez said. "I want to thank all my sponsors and all my fans to continuing to support me."
Ruiz just recently made the drop to 185 pounds and earned the biggest win in his mixed martial arts career with a decision victory over UFC vet Xavier Foupa-Pokam (20-12).
"I always get called for these types of tough fights, but at least I have six to seven weeks to prepare for this one. I think that (Ramirez) is very beatable. He’s fought a lot of average guys and I think we are at the same level," Ruiz said.
"I think in this fight I will get a chance to exchange and bang a little more than the last one. I will do what I always do for every fight and that is keep coming and coming and be relentless and wear him out late in the fight."
Ruiz is a veteran of nearly 40 fights and fought a who’s who in the MMA world from heavyweight to middleweight, which includes fights with Vladimir Matyushenko, Trevor Prangley, Bobby Southworth, Brad Imes and Gan McGee.
"I’m really excited for this fight. I love to fight out at the Tachi Palace. The rooms are great and I like how the weighins are right there on location. I just have to show up and dance," Ruiz said.
The Tachi Palace Fights World Bantamweight title fight between Fresno, Calif.’s Cole Escovedo (14-4) and Duluth, Ga.’s Jeff Bedard (12-2) was elevated to the main event. And in another big bout, Oakdale, Calif. bantamweight Michael MacDonald (8-1) takes on WEC veteran Chico, Calif.’s Manny Tapia (10-3-1).
Also in action is Las Vegas, Nev. lightweight David Bollea (1-0), who is the nephew of professional wrestling super star Hulk Hogan. Bollea’s opponent has not been determined.
"This card just keeps getting better and better each week," Goodman said. "The Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino and its tribal management and tribal council at the Santa Rosa Rancheria have really dedicated themselves to MMA and putting on some of the best fights in the state."
Tickets go on sale December 23 and can be purchased at www.tickets.com or charge by phone at 1-800-225-2277. Tickets may also be purchased at the Tachi Palace Gift Shop and start at a low price of just $30 for general admission seating.
In other bouts;
-Oakland, Calif. lightweight Dominique Robinson (4-3) vs. Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.’s Gabe Ruediger (15-5).
-Lemoore, Calif. featherweight Sergio Quinones (3-5) vs. Huron, Calif.’s Sergio Cortez (7-5).
-Fresno, Calif. bantamweight Phil Perez (7-5) vs. Gilroy, Calif.’s Anthony Figueroa (4-4).
-Fresno, Calif. heavyweight Mike Guidry (1-0) vs. Oakdale, Calif. Angel DeAnda (4-1).
-Merced, Calif. welterweight Phil Collins (7-5) vs. TBA.
-Santa Rosa, Calif. middleweight Nader Maghribi (0-0) vs. TBA.