El Orgullo del Valle Post Fight Analysis

jeff bonugli
[Photo courtesy of SouthTexasContender.com]
Fight promoter Jeff Bonugli was looking for fighters, and he got them. Ryan Spann out of Beaumont opened last Saturday night’s “El Orgullo del Valle” fight event with hands and feet blazing. Although his opponent, Robert Zamora, outweighed him by 26 pounds, it was a mismatch from the beginning, but in Spann’s favor. Spann is the kind of fighter one hates to fight; a towering 6’5 inches tall, with not an ounce to spare on his lean frame of 183 pounds. You take into account also his 82 inch reach, and it spells trouble. Spann, who trains with American Top Team in Beaumont came into this fight 1-0 as a pro, determined to extend his win record. A game Zamora (training out of Mission with Robert Torres) initiated the fray by moving in on Spann with a front kick. After a brief exchange Spann connected with a blistering round house kick to Zamora’s rib cage, which visibly hurt him. The fight went to the ground, and at 2:25 of the first round Spann applied a rear naked choke to end the match.

Julio Villarreal, (McAllen) got into the fight game to lose weight. To that end, he’s been successful, losing over one hundred pounds since taking up mixed martial arts. It wasn’t enough against Christopher Lopez out of San Antonio, though. Lopez quickly got down to business in his match with Villarreal, causing ref Jake Montalvo to stop the match at 1:39 of the first round, when Villarreal was unable to defend himself against the pounding Lopez was doling out. Coming into the match at 1-0, the very humble Lopez voiced no unreasonable expectations about his future. “I’ll take this game as far as it takes me. I’ll be happy with the results, what ever they are.” His immediate short range goal? “I want to meet again the guy I lost to as an amateur. I want to beat him.” He sports 5 wins and one loss as an amateur, and the fight he lost took place in January 2011, in a fight against Jared Perez that went the distance. The 28 year old Lopez, a marathon runner, fights out of Rangel Vale Tudo, and at age 28 is a veteran of the United States Marines. He’s a recent graduate from UTSA. Not exactly sure why, but this writer is partial to him.

You have to hand it to Gabe Reynaga. At 40 years old he took on 24 year old Jordan Morgan. Twice he attempted a spin back kick on Morgan, and each time Morgan walked on him. To Reynaga’s credit, he stayed in the fight, going the distance with Morgan, who won by unanimous decision.

One has difficulty not liking Ray Rodriguez out of New Braunfel’s “Warrior’s Edge. The kid exudes optimism. He was facing a tough Jean Cartagena Maldonado, fighting out of Seguin MMA, just 15 minutes down the road from where Rodriguez trains. The fact that Maldonado holds a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu did not faze Ray. Given his record, Maldonado is no pushover. He came into this fight 1-1 as a pro, with 6 straight wins as an amateur. Strange as this may seem, I felt he should have stuck to his standup in this fight. He has good standup, with very strong kicks and good hands, which, for the little I saw, I rated superior to Ray’s. Yeah, but his strength is in jiu jitsu, and that’s where he continued to go. Explain that to Ray Rodriguez, who put him in a guillotine hold in 54 seconds of the third round!

Alex Hernandez of Ohana quickly overwhelmed Mission’s David Salazar to end the fight in 34 seconds of the first round. Salazar had taken the fight on two weeks notice. One may be physically prepared, but it is the mental game which is tasked.

Jorge Cortez out of Ultra Fit MMA in Harlingen also took this fight on very short notice, but what a fight this was between him and Cory Bellino out of Full Contact Fight Academy in Corpus Christi! Bellino bloodied Cortez in the first round, but Cortez was landing punches as well, in an exciting round of stand up. In the second and third rounds, Bellino took Cortez to the mat, where he had the advantage, as Cortez seemed to be enjoying the stand up game. A close, exciting fight with all judges scoring it 28-29 in favor of Bellino.

Up to this point, every fight has been exciting! One would think the action would slow down. Not so. Next up was Matt Mooney of El Gallero Den in Mission, versus Juan Chapa, also out of Mission. This was probably the most evenly matched fight of the night, with both fighters debuting as pros with an amateur record of 1-0, with both fighters winning their match by submission. So you ask, if the fight only lasted 35 seconds, what was so exciting about it? Those were 35 seconds of great stand up, pure toe to toe confrontation. And then Matthew goes and stops it all by submitting Chapa with an arm bar, which Chapa admits he walked right in to, by thinking he could take Matt out with his hands. Chapa, who lost, will also be on the June Orgullo del Valle card.

Jose Ceja, making his pro debut, represented promoter Bonugli’s Green Ghost Academy in a match against jiu jitsu purple belt Rene Gonzalez, also out of Mission. Ceja landed a hard shot over Gonzalez’ left eye early on, and continued to put on the pressure for three rounds. This fight began with a bang and finished in like manner; action packed, with Ceja taking the fight by unanimous decision.

Up to this point, it had been a night of continuous action, seemingly one exciting fight after another, with each succeeding fight seemingly better than the last. Could it get any better? The best was yet to come. The much ballyhooed co main event between Leroy Martinez and Ricky Palacios was in the offing. There had been much smack talk and insults traded between the two men and their camps, situated only miles apart in Mission. Ricardo “El Gallero” Palacios was coming into this event 4 pounds over weight at 139 pounds, versus Leroy “El Guapo” Martinez at the required 135. Ricky was sporting a record of 1-0 as a pro, and 6-0 as an amateur, all by KO, something which surely did not escape Martinez, whose pro record was 1-1, with an amateur record of 2-2. No one was disappointed at the effort expended by the two. There had been the attempted psyche and shoving between the two at the weigh ins, and this continued into the ring. Palacio’s fight skills are evident in his record to this point; nonetheless, one danger in over confidence can be that training may be allowed to lag. In the first round, Martinez did every thing right. When going up against a striker of the caliber of Palacios, one takes the game to the ground, and Martinez was doing a good job with this. His attempts to get Palacios into a submission hold in the first round failed, but in this writer’s view, the first round went to Martinez. The second round, Palacios got into his game, eluding attempts to be taken to the ground, tagging Martinez at least a couple of times with hard shots to the face, softening him for a clean knockout at 1:22 of the second round.

The much anticipated duel between two good fighters is over, for the time being at least. One writer calls it a total win for the Palacios camp, citing this and two other wins. I don’t agree with his analysis. The first round was too close, and it gets tougher from here, with each fight getting progressively tougher as opponents study his style. Rick’s ground game needs work. Why is this important? You have in Rick Palacios a genuine knockout artist. Consider this: 6 -0 as an amateur, all six wins by KO. 1-0 as a pro boxer, this also by knock out. 2-0 as a pro, both by knock out. Nine fights, 9 KO’s. Future opponents would be foolish not to study his game, as did Leroy Martinez. Nullifying his standup is essential, as Martinez almost did. My advice would be to heal the breach between camps. Sparring partners like Leroy Martinez who can help with the ground game can be a blessing. Both fighters will benefit from each other’s experience. Heal the breach.

We come to the main event, Aaron Rosa versus Tony Melton. Tony Melton entered the fight a solid 264 pounds, the kind of opponent who will pose a threat to any unprepared fighter. He entered this event sporting a 7-3 pro record, and 1-0 as a pro K-1 kickboxer. All his MMA bouts have been almost exclusively stand up. And yes, Aaron Rosa came into the fight, by his own standards, less prepared than desired, and well over his fighting weight. His employment, entailing long hours, has eaten into his training time, and he had been able to train only sporadically. Predictably, the fight evolved into a boxing match, with Rosa having to fight Melton’s game. In a closely fought stand up game, Rosa won by decision, by virtue of landing more punches.

El Orgullo del Norte, first event is now in the past. It has all the markings of a first class event. If Jeff Bonugli has his way, it will come one day to match the UFC in drawing power and excellence.

Rio Grande Valley MMA Fighter, Ricky Palacios, Believes in Making the Impossible Possible

Ricky Palacios MMA Fighter from The Rio Grande Valley
[Ricky Palacios – image courtesy of townnews.com]

Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios loves to fight, not because he likes to hurt people, but because he wants to share his unique talent with the world. He’s worked extremely hard to build a solid fight record, he owns his own gym, has a large Valley fan base, and continues to push his way to the top. His amateur record stands at 6-0 and he concluded his amateur career after obtaining two titles. In his pro debut he won his fight by TKO stoppage putting him at an uptick of 1-0. His next opponent, Loroy Martinez, comes into this fight off of a decision loss but won his pro debut by TKO as well. Ricky intends on making a name for himself, not just in The Valley, but whenever he steps into the cage, ring, or mat… Enjoy the interview!

Tell us about what led you down the martial arts path and why you fight?

What led me to mixed martial arts was mainly my weight. I was close to 200 lbs, which is very large for my stature. I was determined to lose weight. I started out getting into street fights so I set a goal to lose weight and get a legit fight in the cage. It was part of my bucket list to get in there and after I fought and won my first fight, I made it a goal to become a champion!

What would you like to accomplish in your MMA career?

To be honest everyone wants to be a world champion but to me I see it as a goal like everyone else. The main thing is that I’ve done it so later in life when I’m older I won’t be haunted with the question, “What if?” or “I should have?” knowing that I tried something I wanted is an accomplishment in itself and not too many people get to do what they dream of doing. With that being said, I would like to give others the opportunity to do what they dream of. I’ve been blessed to be where I am at and with my own gym “El Galleros Den” now I can help others make their dreams come true. That’s what I’d love to accomplish!

As a pro MMA fighter and boxer, what else would you like to compete in? Which discipline are you most passionate about?

I’ve been working to be an all around fighter. I’ve been thinking about trying out kickboxing or Muay Thai just to see where I stand. I fell in love with boxing and I think I’m good at it. I’m not afraid to try other martial arts and compete. All I need need to do, or anyone for that matter, is to set a goal and have a positive mind set, and never give up.

What advise would you give to someone who’s currently struggling with obesity but wants to make a change like you did?

Now that’s a great question that I love to answering! I was close to 200lbs and now I walk around 148 lbs. I set a goal to lose 15 pounds but the main thing is your mind set and how dedicated you are to accomplishing that goal. I had no one to push me and I didn’t know anything about a diet or fat burning. I did everything naturally just worked out and the willingness to do it. No one was going to stop me no matter what! I set high expectations for myself even when it seemed impossible. I made it possible and that’s how it should be.

Who inspires you?

My inspiration is my spouse and children, They give me the drive to succeed. They have been my back bone since day one. I had a lot of financial problems when I first started training and they have always stuck with me. I was never alone when it came to motivation before or after a fight. Like I said, “make the impossible possible.” We use to sell chicken plates for gas money just to get to the northern cities in order to fight. The we’d come back broke again. The promoters didn’t really care if I was broke or not, they just wanted me to make a fight happen.

Tell us about your upcoming fight and your training regimen going into it.

My upcoming fight is against Leroy Martinez. My training is going great and I feel like I’ve got all the tools to come out victorious March 16! I see every fight as a championship fight and I never think I’m the best or that I’m going to walk through anyone. It’s a fight – anything can happen.

Your opponent Leroy, is there bad blood?

I really don’t take anything personal but I feel like he talks too much. I don’t know, maybe that’s how he pumps himself up but I could care less. I just see it like any other fight. He has said some stuff that shouldn’t have been said. Ido feel like he needs to work extremely hard to beat me. He says that he wants to knock me out or break my arm or something like that. I really don’t care. All I know is that he has a good training camp and I’m pumped because he should be at his best with no excuses. It should be a very entertaining fight. He may want to make it a jiu-jitsu match but I hope he worked on his stand up cuz I’m coming at him hard!

Anyone you’d like to thank, any shout outs?

I would like to thank GOD for my blessing with him anything is possible. My big brother Jeff Bonugli, my family, LX BJJ, Green Ghost Academy, all my sparring partners, Vitamin Shack and shake, H&B fitness, Charlie Clark Nissan, Phatboy racing, and all my sponsors, and fans.  – Ricky Palacios – El Galleros Den

El Gallero’s Highlight Reel

“The Pride of The Valley” Coming to Pharr Events Center March 16th

EL ORGULLO DEL VALLE
At 6’3, 205 pounds, 29 year old Aaron Rosa is in his prime. Fighting out of Rodrigo Pinheiro’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Rosa has the benefit of working on his ground game with one of the best jiu jitsu practitioners in the world. Here Rosa can also count on excellent sparring partners, one of them being Muay Thai specialist, Pete Spratt.

At the very beginning of his professional mixed martial arts career, Rosa racked up ten straight wins, fighting for various promotions. He is currently 17-5 and is a veteran of UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, and EliteXC. His wins include six KO’s, four submissions, and seven by decision.

Rosa will be facing Tony Melton in the premier fight for the “Orgullo del Valle” MMA event in Pharr, Texas on March 16. The 31 year old Melton is currently 7-3. Six of those wins came by KO, and one by decision. While Melton appears to be the underdog in this event, Rosa is experienced enough to know that Melton, with at least a thirty pound weight advantage, and six KO’s under his belt can be dangerous.

Immediately before the main event, Cody “Wolverine” Williams, 4-4, fighting out of the Texas Karate Academy in Beaumont, Texas will meet the Valley’s (McAllen) Randy “the Hurricane” Fuentes, who is currently 5-3. Fuentes has been augmenting his training by throwing his hat into the boxing ring, where he won his first pro fight by unanimous decision in the Valley’s “Border Brawl” in September of 2011, and at this date is 4-0 as a professional boxer.

Although not a main event fight, the grudge match between Ricardo “El Gallero” Palacios and Leroy “Guapo” Martinez, promises to be a scorcher. Palacios and Martinez own schools separated by only a few miles in Mission, and each has a substantial following. In the weeks leading up to March 16, there have been insults and substantial “smack” talk traded between the two camps. If there is a war in the offing, we can expect it between these two fighters. Seven prelim matches will come prior to those listed above, with plenty of action promised.

After 8 shows put on by JC Productions over a two year period, promoter Jeff Bonugli, with the support of Valley Nissan dealer Charlie Clark, will be signing 5 fighters onto contracts worth $50,000. Yes sir, the fight game is coming to the Rio Grande Valley in a very big way.

Promoter Spotlight: Jeff Bonugli of JC Productions

“It’s not about me. It’s about the fighters and more importantly to give glory to Jesus Christ.”

[Interview with Jeff Bonugli – Former fighter. Self-made businessman. Follower of Christ. | Interview and video by Chris Lopez Jr.]

Jeff Bonugli of JC Productions discusses JC’s first event coming to Pharr, Texas March 16th 2013. 12 scheduled bouts for this event with another possible add on and they’re giving away a car! He goes into detail about the future of JC Promotions, discusses fighter pay, dismisses his critics, and shares his passion behind it all.

“We’re going to change the way local promoters pay fighters!”

Jeff is someone who has my respect for all that he does, and has done, for local fighters in Texas. He cares about the fighters because he’s been in their shoes and deep down he’s still a fighter at heart. Enjoy!

El Orgullo del Valle – Full Fight Card
(Fight Card Subject to Change)
Date: March 16, 2013
Location: 3000 North Cage, Pharr, Texas

Aaron Rosa -vs- Tony Melton
Cody Williams -vs- Randy Fuentes
Ricardo Palacios -vs- Leroy Martinez
Alexander Hernandez -vs- Victor Galvan
Jordan Morgan -vs- Gabriel Reynaga
Marcelo Lumakang -vs- Corey Bellino
Steven Zamora -vs- Ryan Spann
Julio Villarreal -vs- Christopher Lopez
Jay Peche -vs- James Hall
Jose Ceja -vs- Rene Gonzalez
Matt Mooney -vs- Juan Chapa
Raymond Moreno -vs- Brandon Ruiz

EL ORGULLO DEL VALLE

Special thanks to JC Promotions & Green Ghost Academy’s Sponsor Charlie Clark Nissan!

Charlie Clark Nissan

Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios is no fluke


Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios is no fluke, and he definitely loves to fight. He took up boxing ten months ago, and in a tough Rio Grande Valley, where there is no lack of tough fighters of Mexican descent, took the Valley’s Golden Gloves Championship in his weight class.  “El Gallero” (Palacios) is a class fighter, and with a large following. Some hundred and fifty folks drove up from the Valley to see him fight in his Pro MMA debut, in his new role as “El Orgullo del Valle,” (“The Pride of the Valley”).

I was sitting ringside with Charlie Clark  to watch Rickey take on an improved Gerardo Botello in this main event contest.  The first round clearly went to Ricky, but it was obvious he was scoping out, and testing, his opponent. His buzz saw nature emerged in the second round, which he clearly dominated. I was impressed by his utter confidence. Palacios is exciting to watch; you quickly gather he enjoys what he’s doing, and he’s good at his game, controlling the ring and the fight, and handling his opponent seemingly with ease. He moves with fluid grace and power, like a cat, and although Botello appeared physically larger than Palacios, at no time was he able to control him.  One understands Botello taking him to the mat; Ricky’s  stand up game, between bobbing and weaving, is a flurry of devastating punches and damaging round house kicks.  Nonetheless, when on the mat, Ricky employed alligator rolls at will, and in what ever position he found himself, he was fighting, punching, and from what should have been difficult angles, driving punishing knee strikes. He didn’t punch his opponent’s rib cage, he pummeled it, with such power that the impact could be loudly heard at ring side. As Bottello tried desperately to cover his ribs, it was obvious the pummeling was taking its toll. Prior to the fight Ricky had announced to his stand up fight coach and mentor, Jeff Bonugli, that he would end the fight by knockout or tap out. The fight was called as a TKO at 1:47 of the third round.

Nor does one seek to denigrate Gerardo Botello, a courageous scrapper. After all, his opponent was the best fighter in the house. While there was at least one other better than average fighter in the matches prior to the main event, (there was one, and inevitably there will be an exciting match up);  he too would have fallen to Palacios.  Bias? We shall see. Pound for pound, my money is on Palacios, for whom the sky is the limit.  Yes, if I were to bet on any of the fighters in the arena bridging the gap between now, and a future in the UFC, my money would be on Ricky Palacios, “El Gallero.”

Ricky Palacios

Over 35 years of fighting and love for the sport. – Jeff Bonugli Interview

Jeff Bonugli is 54 years old and has been in martial arts for over 35 years.  He has fought all over Texas, Louisiana and even Mexico winning tournaments in full contact karate and American kickboxing. Jeff has experienced life through a fighter’s eyes and has seen the good and the bad: “Martial Arts got me through a rough patch in my life. It helped me get through my lowest point. If it wasn’t for Martial Arts and my mentor and Sensei Mr. Chris Lopez , I wouldn’t be here today.” He’s fought in Karate tournaments, Judo, Kickboxing and now for the first and last time, MMA.

Jeff is a humble man who came from a time when the sport was more than just fighting, it was a way of life. He lived and breathed it. A respect for the sport and his elders plays a big role in how he conducts himself. Many of today’s fighters, he feels, don’t understand that. It’s not always about being the biggest and baddest, it’s about discipline and honor.

Mr. Bonugli will be getting back into the ring come July 17th to face a man half his age. Jeff’s not doing this for the money, a boost in his career or anything a young fighter is in it for. He’s doing it to prove to himself that he still has what it takes even at age 54. He’s doing it for his two nieces who were killed, one in a car accident and another who was shot at point blank range. He’s doing it most importantly for the faith that he has gained in a belief of a Savior who died for us. This last one is what truly motivates him, not just to fight but what carries him and has carried him through out his life. This is who he gives all the credit to. Whether he wins or loses, he knows that Jesus Christ laid down his life for him and this is what motivates him the most. To give the glory to God.

In the video you’ll hear some brief stories about the good ole days of martial arts and what it means to him, as well as his final goodbyes to 35 years of fighting and a true love for the sport. Much respect is given to this man who, not only lived it, but plans to prove it once again in the cage.

Jeff will make his way to the cage on July 17th, 2010 in San Antonio at the Municipal Auditorium. A total of three, three minute rounds, win or lose, Jeff will give his all and leave the rest up to his Maker.

Interview by: Chris Lopez Jr.