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Ricky Palacios viewing Combate Americas tourney sort of like a game show

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Ricky Palacios is using a bit of mental visualization to psyche himself up for Saturday night’s Combate Americas one-night tournament in Cancun, Mexico.

“I picture one of those big-ass, oversize checks like on a game show or if you win the lottery,” Palacios told MMA Fighting. “With my name on it. I picture that in my mind every day.”

And why not? Palacios has entered the eight-man welterweight tournament which will air in English on NBCSN and in Spanish on Telemundo, in which the winner will receive a $100,000 grand prize, and that’s enough motivation to get through what has the potential to be a bruising evening.

“You gotta understand, I came from a pretty rough background,” Palacios said. “I wasn’t always a good kid. This won’t be the first time I get in three fights in one night, only now, I’m doing it as a true professional.”

The tournament features quarter and semifinals of two, five-minute rounds with elbows banned, with the final round being a standard three-round bout. Faced with the potential for seven rounds of fightings, Palacios said training hasn’t been all that different than the usual, other than the obvious.

“I’m doing more cardio, more running, that’s the main thing,” Palacio said. “I know I need to bring my gas tank. Besides that, it’s just a fight, man.”

And an old-school one, at that. Palacios, who keeps his base at home in Mission, Texas, made a trip out to Southern California in preparation for the tourney.

That included a stop out in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he trained with the recently retired Tito Ortiz.

Ortiz, of course, knows about one-night tournaments, having broke into the sport by winning the UFC 13 light heavyweight tourney as an alternate.

“That’s the thing was great about working with Tito, just taking in all that old-school knowledge,” Palacios said. “This tournament I’m going into is just like what they did back in the day. It was really encouraging to see, how much passion Tito still has for the sport. Everyone knows about his injuries but he’s still as passionate about coaching and teaching what he knows as he was about fighting.”

From there, Palacios went to train at Kings MMA.

“It was valuable seeing how so many top notch fighters, how so many world champions train,” Palacios said. “The thing I remember most is how Mark Munoz, when he was running wrestling class, how much time he gave to individual people to make sure they were doing things correct. He’s Mark Munoz, who was so big in wrestling and in this sport, and he took the time to care about every person on that mat. That taught me a lot about how you should conduct yourself in this sport.”

Palacios (9-1), who meets Carlos Rivera (9-2) in the opening round on Saturday night, brings a six-fight win streak into the bout. His last two victories have been decisions over former UFC competitors Chris Avila and Roman Gonzalez.

Those earned Palacios “Palacios defeats former UFC competitor,”-type headlines, but he believes starting Saturday night, the headlines he makes will be more about him, and not who he defeated.

“After all this time I’m finally starting to get recognized,” Palacios said. “I’ve been true to myself. After Saturday night I’m going to leave no doubt people will remember the name Ricky Palacios.”

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