Rob McCullough (left) file photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Former World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion “Razor” Rob McCullough will meet once-beaten Strikeforce veteran Isaac de Jesus in the Tachi Palace Fights 5 “Stars and Strikes” headliner on Friday at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif. The match will be contested at a catchweight of 160 pounds.
McCullough has lost three of his last five fights, leading to his release from the WEC. The 33-year-old Huntington Beach, Calif., native last competed at WEC 44 in November, when he dropped a split decision to Karen Darabedyan. A former muay Thai world champion, McCullough has secured more than half (nine) of his 17 career wins by knockout or technical knockout. He has been finished only once -- by former WEC lightweight king Jamie Varner -- in 23 fights.
De Jesus, the reigning Tachi Palace Fights featherweight champion, replaced Thomas Denny at the event. The 23-year-old suffered his lone career defeat to Brandon Visher, who signed with the WEC in late 2009. De Jesus has not competed since February, when he stopped Nam Phan on first-round punches at Tachi Palace Fights 3. Six of his 10 bouts have gone the distance.
Tachi Palace Fights 5 features three title fights, as unbeaten welterweight champion David Mitchell defends his crown against Poppies Martinez and bantamweight titleholder Cole Escovedo puts his belt on the line against Michael McDonald. Meanwhile, UFC veteran Gabe Ruediger will lock horns with Lenny Lovato for the vacant lightweight championship.
In addition, War Machine, a late replacement for Brad Blackburn, will challenge fellow UFC castaway John Alessio in the co-main event, and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas will meet Joe de la Cruz in his second professional MMA bout.
Tachi Palace Fights 5: Stars and Strikes
Thursday, July 9
Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino
“Razor” Rob McCullough vs. Isaac de Jesus
David Mitchell vs. Poppies Martinez
War Machine vs. John Alessio
Cole Escovedo vs. Michael McDonald
Billy Cooper vs. David Kaplan
Gabe Ruediger vs. Lenny Lovato
Stephen Abas vs. Joe de la Cruz
David Bollea vs. Cody Gibson
Francisco Loredo vs. Drew Bittner