The Fresno, Calif. jiu-jitsu wizard and former World Extreme Cagefighting World Featherweight champion’s comeback from a serious staph infection that left him partially paralyzed and in need or spinal surgery in 2007 is well documented.
On Friday May 8, Escovedo will make his long-awaited return to the ring, fighting at Palace Fighting Championship 13’s “Validation” at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif.
But the return of Escovedo (11-4) isn’t just the whole story. His legacy won’t just be cemented with a return to the ring. The veteran isn’t embarking on an easy comeback.
Escovedo is fighting in a new weight class and against one of the hottest rising stars in the division.
And in his first fight back, Escovedo draws the daunting task of trying to stop the wrecking machine that is Michael McDonald.
The Oakdale, Calif. phenom is just 18-years-old and has a professional MMA record of 7-0 with seven first-round stoppages. He hasn’t had a fight last more than four minutes and recently stopped PFC veteran Jason Georgianna (8-4) at PFC 12 in January.
“On paper this fight really sticks out. Maybe not so much to the casual fans, but for the hardcore fans this is a very, very intriguing bout,” PFC Founder and President Christian Printup said. “Yes, it’s a bit of the old guard versus new generation. Cole’s still a young guy, but McDonald is 18-years-old. So he’s in a test no doubt.”
Tickets can be purchased at tickets.com or charge by phone 1-800-225-2277 and at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino gift shop.
“I have been looking forward to seeing what I’m capable of for awhile… since I made the decision to fight again. I don’t really see it as a comeback, because I never really retired I was just put on the disabled list,” Escovedo said. “I have trained more for this fight than any other fight in a long time. I hope to make this the first of wins that gets me another title and back into the WEC.”
Both fighters will have their hands full in a bantamweight tilt that has fight-of-the-night potential.
“I really don’t know too much about (Escovedo). Phil Collins told me a little. I think he said that he was a black belt and had great kicks and triangles,” McDonald said. “It seems like a fight between the old veteran and new guy, but honestly I stopped really caring about what people think and about their reputations.”
Escovedo has one of those types of reputations, though, that will draw some attention. He’s fought some of the top featherweights in the world, including Urijah Faber.
“Expect to see a new fighter that’s all I can say. I don’t want to give up any game plan,” Escovedo said. “The decision to go down to 135 was a decision that me and my coach made together. We wanted to try being the bigger opponent for once and see how the cut works for this fight it doesn’t mean we'll stay at 135, but it is on the drawing board.”
McDonald is about as well-rounded as they come in the PFC and Escovedo is returning to the game as a fighter that once was thought of as phenom in the sport and helped bring great attention to the 145-pound weight class.
“Cole is a former WEC Champion and he’s fought Urijah, Jens Pulver, Antonio Banuelos, Poppies Martinez and Bart Palaszewski. He has been in with some of the sports best and at a heavier weight. The call him “The Triangle” for a reason. He has one of the best ground transitional game’s I’ve ever seen,” Printup said. “He can climb up a guy like a monkey and get a triangle. He did that against Joe Martin back in one of our old WEC shows.
“Mikey McDonald is arguably one of the best kept secrets in MMA and not just on the West Coast, but on the national level as far as I’m concerned. People don’t really understand… he is 7-0, with seven stoppages in the first round and is just 18. People have wanted him to fight in the PFC for a while now, but I wanted to wait ‘til he was 18. We signed him before he turned 18 and kind of put him on layaway. He’s young, fast and hungry.”
This is also a bout that could go a long way in determining who will face current PFC World Bantamweight Champion Duluth, Ga.’s Jeff Bedard (11-2).
“This fight is going to answer a myriad of questions about both guys and you can believe neither guy will back down an inch. This is a main event level fight for most regional promotions, but this is the PFC baby,” Printup said. “We’re a whole different level and this fight being on the undercard illustrates that, but I don’t get too caught up with the whole undercard, main card thing. Because my vision as a promoter is to try and make every fight a main event quality fight.”
In the main event, Visalia, Calif. middleweight Doug Marshall (9-3) battles veteran North Highlands, Calif.’s Jaime Jara (21-6) and in the co-main event Fresno, Calif.’s Casey Olson (9-2) takes on Las Vegas, Nev.’s Eddie Yagin (12-3-1) in a featherweight elimination bout.
The vacant PFC World Middleweight title is on the line when Oakland, Calif.’s Leopoldo Serao (15-7) meets Merced, Calif.’s Phil Collins (7-4).
Ensenada, Mexico’s Olaf Alfonso (8-10) will defend his PFC World Welterweight championship for the first time in a 5-round showdown with Santa Rosa, Calif.’s Kyle Pimentel (6-0).
Oakland, Calif.’s Dominique Robinson (14-2-1) will meet Brasilia, Brazil’s Carlo Prater (23-6-1) for the vacant PFC World Lightweight strap and the PFC will finally crown a PFC World Flyweight champion when Scottsdale, Ariz.’s Pat Runez (5-0) takes on fill in Fresno, Calif.’s Anthony Perales (3-0).
In other bouts:
Visalia, Calif. lightweight Darren Crisp (6-3) vs. Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.’s Gabe Ruediger (11-5).
Bakersfield, Calif. lightweight Bryan Travers (11-1) vs. Houston, Tex.’s John Gunderson (18-6).
Sao Paulo, Brazil lightweight Marcelo Guidici (8-1) vs. Turlock, Calif.’s John Reedy (6-3).
Sacramento, Calif. lightweight Scott McAfee (7-1) vs. Oakdale, Calif.’s Bill Theofonopolus (3-1).
Huntington Beach, Calif. featherweight Erin Toughill (9-2-1) vs. Santa Rosa, Calif.’s Emily Thompson (4-0).
Doors open on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and fights start at 6:30. On Thursday, fans are encouraged to come out to the Palace and attend the official weighins, which take place on the third floor at The Den Sports Bar. The weighins are for 21-and-older and no one under the age of 21 will be permitted to attend the weighins. Weighins are slated to begin at 4 p.m.
For breaking PFC news go to www.palacefightingchampionship.com. You can also find other PFC and Palace information at http://www.tachipalace.com.