LEMOORE, CA – The Palace Fighting Championship made it’s highly anticipated debut at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino Thursday night and won over a sold-out crowd of over 1,500 virtually the same way Eric “Butterbean” Esch was able to — by knockout.
“Butterbean” (8-3-1) knocked out Madera’s Charles Hodges (0-1) in just 45 seconds of the first round.
The of Birmingham, Al fighter weathered a lengthy, early flurry by Hodges, who took the fight Wednesday on one-hours notice, and then unleashed a brutal combination that concluded with a right hand that sent Hodges to the canvas.
“I really subscribe to a transcendental approach to life, in that we are always learning, always in a state of becoming and seeing the Palace Fighting Championship go from me scribbling notes and ideas at 3 a.m. about six weeks ago to the live show tonight, a sold out crowd, exciting fights, and highly energetic production values has been surreal,” said Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino Entertainment Director Christian Printup said. “My staff and I have worked together to produce over four-hundred events together, but tonight is a day that will really stand out in our careers.”
In the co-main event, Capital City Fighting Alliance fighter and Lemoore native, Poppies Martinez (10-2) won by unanimous decision over Josh Gardner (4-8) of Bakersfield in a lightweight bout.
Martinez was overwhelming in victory, showing tremendous improvements in his wrestling, taking down Gardner at will in every round and utilized outstanding ground-and-pound techniques to cruise to the victory.
Lemoore’s Kenny Ento (6-1) won by referee stoppage due to strikes in 31 seconds of the first round over Tulare’s Roy Arriola (1-2) in a middleweight bout.
Shawn Bias (9-3) of Oroville defeated Stockton’s Brandon Jennies (1-1) in a lightweight bout by referee stoppage due to strikes in 1:36 of the first round.
In a controversial welterweight fight, Lemoore’s Chris Botelho (4-2) and Josh McCartney (1-0) of Bakersfield had their bout end in a no contest in the second round after Botelho was struck with an unintentional groin strike.
McCartney landed a nice early flurry that wobbled Botelho in the second round. Midway through the round, though, McCartney landed a knee that was ruled a groin shot by referee Herb Dean. In the first round, McCartney lost a point for an obvious groin shot.
Former Fresno State wrestler Ralph Lopez (2-0) won by ref stoppage due to strikes in 1:15 of the first round over Fresno’s Shahob Nasbaradi (0-2) in a featherweight bout.
Parlier’s Mike Moreno (1-1) won by knockout over Visalia’s Francisco Magallon (2-4) in a welterweight bout in 37 seconds of the first round.
Tulare’s Rafael Del Real (3-4) submitted Madera’s Rolando Torres (2-3) via armbar in a light heavyweight bout in 2:08 of the third round.
Andrew Martinez (2-0-1) of Lemoore defeated Taft’s Billy Terry (1-1) in a welterweight bout by unanimous decision.
Taft’s Tommy Contreras (1-0) won his pro debut by ref stoppage due to strikes in the third round over Hanford’s Brian Huerta (0-1).
In bantamweight action, Capital City Fighting Alliance’s Dave Espinosa (2-0), who is a former UC Davis wrestler, defeated Sacramento’s Nelson Ocampo (0-1) by rear-naked choke in the second round.
“The last six weeks my staff Mary Moon, Larry Ruiz, Roxanne Martinez and Joey Perez worked so hard to make the Palace Fighting Championship a reality,” Printup said. “I’m very grateful for the support of the Tachi-Yokut tribe, our executive management and all of the associates of the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino for believing this could be done.”
Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Wes Sims will headline the March 22nd card against Tulare’s Anthony Fuller.
“I like this show. It’s a great setup,” Sims said. “For this being the first show, I’m very happy with the number of people here. If I had to rate this promotion on a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 10 for a small show. If it keeps growing, I think it will be a great big show.”