Heading into his fourth straight Combate Americas main event, there isn’t much further up that Ricky Palacios can go in the promotion.
That said, he has an idea to put together one of the biggest possible matchups between two Latin American fighters: Call out Erik Perez.
“El Goyito” is 2-0 since joining Combate last April and he debuted on the strength of three consecutive UFC wins. Since day one, Perez has been expected to be a star in the promotion, and that’s exactly the kind of opponent that Palacios is looking for.
“I want Erik ‘El Goyito’ Perez,” Palacios told MMA Fighting. “He’s the biggest star you have in the company. I don’t really care about the strap, I want to fight the big guys. He’s ranked. He was in the UFC, he’s been on a winning streak for so long.
“I want that guy. I don’t know what happened with that, I don’t know what happened with negotiations, I don’t know what happened there.”
Despite his headlining status, Palacios, a Mexican American who hails from Mission, Texas, finds himself at a crossroads of sorts in his MMA career. After defeating Chris Avila and Roman Salazar, two fighters with UFC experience, he went on to pick up a win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, and then score a highlight-reel KO of Walel Watson, another UFC veteran, at last November’s Golden Boy MMA: Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 show.
Ricky Palacios is a bad man#liddellortiz3 - live on @FiteTV - https://t.co/vupBxTeLMB pic.twitter.com/LaLD78SOo2— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) November 25, 2018
That’s eight straight wins now for “El Gallero,” who makes his return to Combate on Friday in a 150-pound catchweight bout at Combate 40 in Hidalgo, Texas. As much as he’s eager to fight Perez, he’s not looking past upcoming opponent Cooper Gibson.
“We’ll see after this fight. We’ll see what’s going on, we’ll see what they have lined up,” Palacios said. “We’ve got to still wait and see what happens with this fight because I am fighting a tough opponent. He’s 9-2 with six finishes, I’m 11-1 with six finishes, we’ve got a real similar record. So we’ve got to see moving forward.
“Would [Perez] be a fight I would love in the future? Hell yeah, I would love to have that fight.”
A part-time fighter who primarily makes a living working at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Palacios is used to getting prepared for fights on short notice. That balancing act hasn’t affected him negatively thus far as he’s compiled an 11-1 pro record and is unbeaten fighting for Combate.
However, it sounds like getting the opportunity to take some of Perez’s shine would warrant extra hours in the gym and not because of any particular animosity that Palacios has for “El Goyito.” He simply sees a potential win that would do more for his reputation than any Combate belt could at the moment.
“I like Erik Perez, he’s real humble,” Palacios said. “He’s a cool guy, he’s funny, I’ve hung out with him in Miami, me and my coaches. It has nothing to do with Erik. It just has to do with he’s a big name in Combate. Who else has a big name? You have Gustavo Lopez who just won the belt, but Gustavo is not a big name.
“What I’m trying to say is that Combate doesn’t have ‘a star.’ Combate doesn’t have the fighter, the person to beat. The only person that they’ve got to beat in my eyes is Erik Perez.”