The 2010 Year in Review F.U. Awards

By DAMIAN MARQUEZ

VISALIA, Calif. – 2010 was a memorable year for mixed martial arts in the San Joaquin Valley.

There was one location in particular that brought local MMA fans some of the best fight cards not associated with the UFC.

Based out of Lemoore, Calif., Tachi Palace Fights is a regional promotion dedicated to giving young, upstart fighters a chance to make a name for themselves.

Tachi Palace Fights has almost perfected a formula to bring exciting fights to its fans by mixing the top local talent, which has a loyal fan base, with other fighters who have already established themselves as big-time players in the sport.

One of the men responsible for putting together such intriguing matches, which not only captivates local fans, but fight fans from throughout the country, is TPF matchmaker Richard Goodman.

And that is why we feel Goodman and Tachi Palace Fights is more than deserving for the Fighting Unlimited matchmaker/promotion of the year award for 2010.

Goodman along with the rest of the Tachi Palace Fights staff provided action-packed fight cards all year like no other local promotion.

They are also partly responsible for many of the individual accolades we are about to award right now.

Here are the rest of the 2010 F.U. Award winners:

F.U. Fighter of the Year: Michael McDonald

There were several candidates up for the F.U. Fighter of the Year Award, but none of them stood taller than Michael “MayDay” McDonald. 2010 saw McDonald go from prospect to full-fledged star. His breakout performance came early in 2010 when McDonald dismantled former WEC No. 1 contender

 Manny Tapia with a vicious knockout in 4 minutes, 31 seconds at Tachi Palace Fight’s Feb. 4 show. That was only the beginning for McDonald, who avenged his only loss of his career by knocking out Cole Escovedo to claim the TPF bantamweight championship on Aug. 9. It was that win over Escovedo that helped land McDonald in the WEC. Already having shown his amazing striking abilities, McDonald showed off more of his arsenal when he submitted Clint Godfrey with an armbar in his Zuffa debut at WEC 52. And now, McDonald (11-1) is primed to make a name for himself in the UFC when he makes his promotional debut against Nick Pace at UFC Fight Night on March 26 in Seattle.

F.U. Women’s Fighter of the Year: Zoila Frausto

There was nobody as busy as Zoila Frausto in 2010. Frausto went from being a local prospect to one of the best woman fighters in the world in 2010.

The “Warrior Princess” proved she was worthy of her moniker by fighting an astounding seven times in just nine months and going 6-1 in those fights.

She suffered her only setback of her career against Miesha Tate in March but bounced back to record five straight victories, including four in-a-row to become Bellator’s first woman champion. Frausto’s run to the title enough was impressive enough, but defeating Megumi Fujii to capture gold, put Frausto over the top.

Knockout of the Year: Isaac De Jesus

Isaac De Jesus shocked everyone inside the Tachi Bingo Hall when he attempted his Superman punch against Nam Phan with the Tachi Palace Fights featherweight championship on the line. The crowd couldn’t believe what had just happened and Phan never saw what hit him. The Superman punch didn’t knock out Phan, but De Jesus wasted very little time in jumping on the Phan, who is now in the UFC, and finishing the job to become the first TPF 145-pound champion. Not only does De Jesus get credit for style points, but he gets credit for pulling off the highlight-reel punch with the gold on the line.

Submission of the Year: David Bollea

David Bollea is 3-0 in his young mixed martial arts career and all three of his wins have come by submission. But his armlock submission against Cody Gibson at Tachi Palace Fights 5 showed just how smooth he could be on the ground. Gibson gave Bollea everything he could handle, but early into the second round of their 155-pound bout,
 

Bollea got a hold of Gibson’s arm, and while it is still unclear how exactly he pulled off the submission, he forced Gibson to tap out 31 seconds into the second round. Bollea tried explaining just how he pulled off the submission after his win, but he confused this writer even more with his explanation. Either way, it was some smooth work on the mat by “The Ultimate Male.”

Fight of the Year: Ulysses Gomez vs. Luis Gonzalez

“Useless” Ulysses Gomez defeated Luis “Speedy” Gonzalez in a five-round war to capture the Tachi Palace Fights 125-pound championship on May 5. Gomez proved he was far from useless as he picked up a unanimous decision victory. And while all three judges were right in awarding Gomez the victory, it was still a valiant effort from Gonzalez. The two fighters fought all five rounds at a frantic pace much to the delight of the crowd. Gomez proved he was worthy of wearing the 125-pound strap, but his life won’t be getting any easier in 2011. Tachi seems focused on showcasing the 125-pound division, which means Gomez will have a huge target on his back as long as he is still holding the championship.

Disclaimer: These aren’t the Tachi Palace Fights year-end awards even though it may seem like it. I guess that just means other local fight promoters are just going to have to step their game up in 2011!



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