Interim UFC Heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, teamed up with UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva, to start their own MMA training facility in Miami, FL. Among their many students, one has risen above the rest in his progress toward becoming a world champion one day.
Nogueira has taken Luis “Baboon” Palomino under his wings. They are constantly training and sparring together at the Team Nogueira gym. Nogueira truly believes that Palomino is the top young fighter in his gym, and has what it takes to become a future MMA star. But Palomino hasn’t always looked like he had the potential that Nogueira now envisions.
When Palomino began training with Nogueira, he had lost two of his last three fights via TKO. He spent several months training at Nogueira’s gym before stepping back into the cage. His first opponent while fighting out of Nogueira’s camp was a tough, undefeated lightweight fighter out of Bradenton, FL, Eric Reynolds. Most observers thought it would be an easy victory for the well-rounded Reynolds, who had won nine consecutive victories to start his MMA career, five by (T)KO, and four by submission.
When Palomino stepped into the cage with Reynolds, it had been 11 months since his last fight. He couldn’t afford a slow start against a fighter the caliber of Reynolds. Indeed, nothing was slow about his 38-second knockout demolition of his favored opponent on November 6. With the win, Palomino has now been given an opportunity to stake a claim as a top lightweight prospect.
Shortly after his victory, Palomino signed on to fight John Mahlow to challenge for his XFC Lightweight championship. The fight is scheduled for December 5 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. There’s no question that this bout will test where Palomino is at in his development as a rising star.
Mahlow’s record (11-10) can be a bit misleading. His losses have come against opponents like Jeff Curran, Mark Bocek, Mac Danzig, Alberto Crane, and Antonio McKee. Eight of his eleven career victories have come by way of submission. His fight against Palomino will be the first defense of his new belt.
Palomino will have his hands full on the night of December 5 in Tampa, FL. But it’s unlikely that Mahlow will be looking past him. Any fighter who is the personal protégé of the interim UFC Heavyweight champion, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, will garner the respect of any opponent.
Will Palomino crumble under the pressure of his first title fight? Or will his star continue to rise over Miami?