When the UFC announced that it would be adding the 125-pound flyweight division early in 2012, no promotion was affected more than California’s Tachi Palace Fights (TPF). After all, the organization had become known for hosting the biggest names in the weight class over the last few years.
Although some may have anticipated that the move would cripple the smaller promotion, TPF hasn’t missed a beat. Fortunately for the young organization, it did not put all of its eggs in one basket. When some of its biggest 125-pound stars like Ian McCall, Jussier da Silva and Ulysses Gomez were called to duty in the UFC, there was no panic on the part of TPF .
In fact, as TPF prepares for its 14th event on Friday, Sept. 7, from its usual stomping grounds in Lemoore, Calif., the promotion is thriving. Not only has it established itself as a pipeline for the flyweight division, it has showcased high-level talent in a number of lighter weight classes.
Even with the UFC adding flyweights, the promotion’s most recent event in March featured its former 125-pound champion Darrell Montague. Montague is a potential star, as his only losses have come to the aforementioned McCall and another current UFC fighter, Robbie Peralta. The promotion has thrived by developing talent like Montague, but its roster is also filled with veterans of top-notch promotions like the UFC, Strikeforce and the now-defunct WEC.
The promotion’s upcoming card, dubbed “Validation,” features two title fights—in the featherweight and bantamweight divisions—and is sure to deliver action-packed fights throughout. Former UFC and WEC combatant Ian Loveland defends his 135-pound strap against Strikeforce and WEC veteran Casey Olson. Also on the card, Bellator veteran Georgi Karakhanyan puts his featherweight title on the line against Ultimate Fighter and WEC alum Micah Miller.
While the promotion is clearly focused on maintaining itself as one of California’s top regional shows, hosting the level of talent it does has given it a much bigger reach. By holding three to five events each year, TPF has managed to put together strong cards without stretching itself too thin. And unlike some smaller shows, fighters have shown the desire to return and continue fighting in the TPF cage.
Certainly the promotion took a hit with the UFC adding flyweights, but it has continued to showcase talented fighters within the division. Assuming the promotion stays the course, or even increases the frequency of its events, TPF can continue to build itself as one of the premier UFC-feeder leagues, and not just the former home of the world’s best flyweights.
Photo: Darrell Montague celebrates his win at TPF 13 (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)