Names and numbers can be deceptive: Tachi Palace Fights was not the first mixed martial arts promotion to call the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino home, nor was Tachi Palace Fights 1 the first fight card to take place under the TPF banner.
Tachi Palace Fights was the successor to Palace Fighting Championship, which was itself the replacement for World Extreme Cagefighting, the first promotion to operate out of the Tachi tribal casino in central California. While the original, pre-Zuffa WEC had been a fairly standard regional promotion, PFC had begun a transition towards showcasing the lighter weight classes, a practice that was continued by TPF, and of all the sub-lightweight fighters who built their résumés in Lemoore, California, under any of those promotions, few were as important as Chad Mendes.
By the time of TPF 1 on Oct. 8, 2009, Mendes was 4-0, having fought all four times at the Tachi Palace. The card featured plenty of other Tachi trademarks: more sub-lightweight standouts such as Michael McDonald and Joe Soto, for instance, as well as Poppies Martinez, “The Tachi Kid,” a man every bit as synonymous with his hometown promotions as Akira Shoji is with Pride Fighting Championships or Minoru Suzuki with Pancrase.
Mendes dominated that night, remaining unbeaten by outwrestling Mike Joy for three one-sided rounds. It would be his final appearance for TPF, as he signed with—ironically enough—the WEC, which was just entering its stretch run as the premier haven for male 125, 135 and 145-pound fighters in the Western Hemisphere.