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Combate 13: Ricky Palacios vows to turn Roman Salazar’s fans into his fans

Ricky Palacios

Combate Americas presents “Combate 13” inside Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Ariz., on April 20, 2017 for a card to be televised LIVE on Azteca America and ESPN Latin America with a replay on UFC Fight Pass. The main event will feature a top Combate Americas star facing a former UFC fighter at Bantamweight.

Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios (7-1) is the longest standing member of the Combate Americas roster, dating all the way back to their reality TV show in 2014, and he’s also a perfect 4-0 inside what they call “La Jaula” — the Combate Americas cage.

That perfect record will be put to the test by Roman “El Gallito” Salazar (10-5-1), a fighter who amassed a 9-2 record before an unfortunate string of bad luck in UFC, including a UFC 184 fight which ended in a no contest after Kid Yamamoto poked him in the eye.

Salazar will be looking to prove he’s better than his UFC run, but Palacios isn’t about to just roll over for the debuting Salazar, and in today’s conversation with he doesn’t feel UFC experience gives Salazar any edge on April 20.

“I mean we all train the same thing, you know what I mean? It’s just the promotion that’s different. I’m fighting for one of the fastest growing promotions in the world right now, so he’s the one who should take that into consideration. Other than that it’s a great tough fight, I’m excited, and I’m ready.”

Outside of his excellent run in Combate Americas, Palacios has also established himself as a boxer (2-0-1), which he feels gives a an overall strength to his striking his opponents lack.

“I think my striking is a lot better than a lot of people out there -- not only here. He does have a little bit more experience than I do in (MMA) fights, but it all comes down to who puts it into place the day of the fight.”

Even though Palacios and Salazar are headlining the show in Tucson, “El Gallero” isn’t feeling any additional pressure to perform well in the main event.

“It’s not my first main event and it definitely won’t be my last. I just look at it as just another fight. To be honest I don’t focus on the audience, I just focus on what I have to get done that day of the fight. It just sucks that I have to wait longer to fight. You know I would love to be the first fight and get it out of the way, but being the main attraction (and) knowing that everybody’s looking up to me, that’s awesome itself.”

In addition Palacios feels he’s primed for a stellar performance after two wins by decision, saving himself in training to get back to a point where his five previous wins came by knockout.

“It’s a lot about my nutrition, a lot with (that) I trained a little bit more careful. I’m a real aggressive fighter and I train aggressive as well. You never go 100% to a fight, there’s always bumps and bruises everywhere, and this time I’ve got a little bit of bumps and bruises but not compared to most of my fights you know. I just took care of myself a lot different. I trained smart and I trained with great coaches.”

All of the great training in the world can’t change the fact that Salazar hails from nearby Scottsdale and will be the crowd favorite in Tucson. Palacios isn’t worried about it.

“Oh man, they’re gonna become MY fans, that’s all I know. I’ve always fought away from home most of my fights, and most of the time I fight the home town favorite, (but) it’s never really put any pressure on me. I kind of like it. At the end of the day they become my fans, they remember me — and especially my cowboy hat.”

It’s fair to say they remember his spectacular finishes too.

“Yeah I give it my all, I don’t like to hold back. I put on a show and I test myself. Even though I get tired I’m telling myself ‘Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!’ My mind just keeps telling me I can’t stop. It’s a real weird feeling but it’s awesome.”

Palacios expects Salazar to bring it at Combate13 and put on a performance as good if not much better than any he had the chance to show in UFC.

“I’m not underestimating anybody or saying he went to UFC and he fought and he lost. I mean his record is 10-5-1 so he has a pretty good record, it’s not bad — but it’s not great, but he has a good record, he’s experienced, he’s a good wrestler. You can not overlook any opponent.”

If Palacios continues to be undefeated in Combate Americas after Salazar, he feels a fight for the inaugural bantamweight title is just around the corner.

“Right now the way it works I would think is they’ve got to build names, they’ve got to build fighters, they can’t just hand a title out to just anybody. They’ve got have a fighter with a five fight or six fight win streak and then say ‘He deserves a title’ or ‘She deserves a title’ or ‘Let’s set up a title match.’”

Don’t miss Combate13 on TV Azteca and UFC Fight Pass to find out if Palacios (and his cowboy hat) are in that position to break through. Complete audio of our interview is embedded above.

To check out the latest Combate Americas news and notes click here.

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