Combate Americas reality series star prepares for co-main event showdown at STFC 35 on Friday, June 12

Physically and emotionally tired, drained and exhausted, Ricky Palacios, standing 5’6” and weighing 145 pounds, stares into an empty bathtub. Within a span of 4 days, the 28-year-old nicknamed “El Gallero” (Spanish for “Rooster Fighter”) has shed 18 pounds but still has 2 more to go.

He coats his skin with makeup remover as he waits for the bathtub to fill with water. Then, he empties a container of Epsom salt into the tub and soaks. Within an hour, the magnesium sulfate in the Epsom salt has flushed the toxins from his body along with those two extra pounds.

For Palacios, cutting extra weight is more important than detoxifying because making weight has been an ongoing struggle throughout his fighting career. “My physique is not ripped, you know?” Palacios humbly admits, “I don’t have muscles all over the place. I mean, I started fighting because I was obese. I was 200 pounds when I started.”

Palacio laughs as he blames the weight on his heritage. “I’m Hispanic, Latino. I love to eat!” he exclaims, unapologetically.

While training, Palacios equates his diet to a balancing act that constantly seesaws. “Sometimes I’m on point and I don’t have to cut a lot of weight,” he says. “Sometimes I’m way off and I don’t eat for two days and don’t drink any water, either. It all depends on the weight cut.”

Palacios hopes he won’t have to lose 20 pounds in 4 days, again, especially for his next fight: a South Texas Fighting Championship (STFC) co-main event bout against Ricardo Diaz (2-1) – a GFL streamed event – on Friday, June 12.

“I look at techniques,” says Palacios, when asked how closely he’s been studying his opponents – specifically Diaz. “I look at what they’re doing and what works best for them. And then I train from there and make some adjustments.”

Palacios aims “to leave no stone unturned” in his training. He makes it clear that for him, “there is always room for improvement. There are a million and one ways to throw a jab. There are so many ways to take someone down. I mean you gotta train for everything.”

Even though he practices many forms of martial arts – Muay Thai, wrestling, Jiu-jitsu – Palacios’ true passion is boxing. According to Palacios, boxing gives him a good base and a competitive advantage over his opponents.

In the professional boxing world, where he is 2-0-1, Palacios is known as an awkward fighter. “It’s because I move a lot and I’m always on my toes,” he explains. “I catch angles and I’m quick on my feet you know? I’ll flip a jab, take an angle and then come in again. It changes a lot of people’s game plan. They can’t keep up with me.”

Palacios credits his career’s recent success, in large part, to his featured role on the award-winning Combate Americas reality TV series on NBC Universo (formerly mun2).

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions (The Real World, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Project Runway), UFC co-founder and creator Campbell McLaren and MMA industry veteran Mike Afromowitz, the 10-episode competition series introduced Palacios and 11 other Hispanic MMA fighters for the first time to a national audience.

“There was one fight where I knocked out this kid in the second round and a lot of the country got to see it,” he tells. “It benefited me so much because after that I (engaged) a lot more fans.”

Palacios confesses that while on the reality show, he felt like the underdog in most of the challenges that he and his fellow cast members were tasked with.

“Some people looked at me and would say, ‘Man I’ll slap that guy!’ Everyone else was ripped and cut on the show, and I had a gut,” says Palacios with a chuckle. “But if you watch, I had some of the best fights and knockouts on the show. People would say, ‘Wow… I didn’t expect that!’”

“There will always be those people who say, ‘Oh, you can’t do this and that,’” he continues. “Once you prove you can do it, and you belong, then doors open for you.”

Palacios is determined to continue his climb up the sport’s ladder but is also steadfast about staying true to his philanthropic endeavors.

“I want to be a world champion. But, in the long run, I want to help people. I do this, you know, fighting, for a better life for my family, mostly. But overall, I want to help obese kids, bullied kids, troubled kids. I want to help out everybody.”

Palacios nutshells his own philosophy: “I have a big heart. You know, the more you come out to your fans and help out, the more appreciated you are as a fighter. But I think that’s what I fight with most: my heart.”

About The Author

Dante Giannetta
GFL Coverage / Staff Writer