DeJesus ready to face Phan

Jan 12, 2010
(PRESS RELEASE) -- From the back alleys and rented out homes, to the bright lights of the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino when Isaac DeJesus reflects on his mixed martial arts journey he can’t help but be a little humble.

“Honestly, I’m just very honored to be fighting at Tachi. It’s a place that’s rich with MMA tradition and a place that since day one I had always wanted to fight at,” said DeJesus who puts his 8-1 record on the line against Westminister, Calif.’s Nam Phan (15-6) on Thursday, February 4 for the Tachi Palace Fights World Featherweight title.

“I’ve really always wanted to fight there since back when the WEC was there. I’m just happy to be fighting out there for a great promotion,” DeJesus added.

It took some time for DeJesus to fulfill some of his MMA aspirations, though. He began his career fighting in underground fights in shady places with some shady characters, but has since blossomed under the tutelage of Team Buhawe in Fresno.

“I was kind of pushed into MMA. I hooked up with a kickboxing coach and did some of the underground stuff he was doing in some private locations,” DeJesus said. “I even fought Dominique Robinson I think in my last fight like that and then I hooked up with a manager that had some Strikeforce fighters and I turned pro.”

DeJesus was just 17-years-old when he made his MMA debut, a victory that is not reflected on his record.

“I wasn’t really ready for it, but I won. It doesn’t show up on Sherdog, it wasn’t a sanctioned fight. It was just something I did out at one of the casinos on the reservation,” DeJesus said. “Then I started with Global Knockouts and a few years later I came to train in Fresno with Buhawe.”

The turnaround in DeJesus’ career came on May 9, 2008 at the Memorial Civic Auditorium in Stockton, Calif. DeJesus won a split decision over Cruz Gomez (12-8), but it was an earlier fight on the card with Fresno, Calif.’s Brandon Cash (5-1) that proved pivotal.

Cash was picking up his first professional victory and being cornered by Team Buhawe head coach Jasper Tabaya, who later reached out to DeJesus and asked him to join the team.

“Jasper and those guys saw I had 450 people out there for my fight and saw my skills and asked if I wanted to come down to Fresno and train. I came down here and they offered to train me for free and here I am today,” DeJesus said.

This isn’t the first time that DeJesus has fought for gold, as he lost by technical knockout to Brandon Visher (13-0) in Hawaii in September 2009.

“I still haven’t even been fully paid for that fight. It just didn’t feel right out there,” DeJesus said. “This time I get to fight in front of my friends and family.”

And much like the last time against another up-and-coming star in the sport. Phan is a Strikeforce and Sengoku vet and one of more exciting fighters out of California.

“I really don’t know too much about him. I know he fought Billy (Evangelista) tough and he’s well-known,” DeJesus said.

And speaking of Evangelista, the undefeated phenom out of Fresno is one of DeJesus’ main sparring partners.

“The team is pretty well known. It was pretty well known when I came out here with guys like Billy, Jorge (Evangelista), Lavar (Johnson), Art (Arciniega), John Reedy and Zoila (Frausto),” DeJesus said. “There were a lot bigger names than me and I’ve really gotten to see where I am at as a fighter training with those guys. Now after a few fights with the team, I’m starting to make a name for myself and helping the Buhawe name at the same time.”

Phan also carries a big name and has fought a who’s who in the MMA world.

“I don’t know too much about (DeJesus). He looks very strong on tape and kicks real hard and I think he has some pretty decent jiu-jitsu,” Phan said. “He’s a good tricky, crafty kid. I think fans can expect a lot of haymakers and a lot of punches.”

Tickets can be purchased at or charge by phone at 1-800-225-2277. Tickets may also be purchased at the Tachi Palace Gift Shop and start at a low price of just $30 for general admission seating.

In the main event, Fresno, Calif. Cole Escovedo (14-4) takes on Duluth, Ga.’s Jeff Bedard (12-2) for the Tachi Palace Fights World Bantamweight title.

Tachi Palace Fights will be the site for the return on Chico, Calif. bantamweight Manny Tapia (10-3-1) and Norwalk, Calif. middleweight Hector Ramirez (8-3-1). Tapia takes on a young and up-and-coming striker from Oakdale, Calif. Michael McDonald (8-1) and Ramirez will meet a seasoned veteran from Coarsegold, Calif. Anthony Ruiz (23-13).

Also, in action is David Bollea the nephew of professional wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan. Bollea (1-0), much like his uncle, is a grappling standout and trains in Las Vegas, Nev. at Cobra Kai. Bollea takes on a local striker from Hanford, Calif. Tim Denham (0-1) and sticking with the pro wrestling theme Portland,’ Ore.’s Colton Toombs will make his professional debut. Toombs is the son of Rowdy Roddy Piper and will take on Fresno, Calif.’s Anthony Vidal (1-2).
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