Life has not always been easy for Ryan “The Executioner” Tobar, but through the struggles, Tobar has become a star in both the octagon and in life.
Friday night, Feb. 13, Tobar will battle it out against Jonathan “JT” Contrestano at Fresno’s Save Mart Center. The fight will be live on Spike.com and will be one of eight preliminary fights scheduled on the evening. The two gladiators will battle it out in the cage in a lightweight clash. Tobar (3-1) looks to dethrone Contrestano (4-0).
Tobar is a versatile fighter.
“When I came into Oakdale MMA, I was a blank canvas. I don’t feel like I can label what kind of fighter I am. I have a strong ground game and submission skills, so I wouldn’t label myself as any specific background,” Tobar explained.
The MMA standout was born in Modesto and moved to Burlington, Iowa when he was six.
“I lost a brother at a young age. I had to grow up fast, to help out my family. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but we were not poor either,” Tobar shared. “We were in the middle and made do with what we had.”
Tobar’s love of sports started at a young age, as he grew up watching professional wrestling and credits Hulk Hogan and the late Ultimate Warrior as his childhood heroes.
“I think that’s how I got hooked into physical combat, watching wrestling, because to me that stuff was real back then,” he said.
His journey back to California began when he was 20-years-old. Tobar was training in the south with former UFC champion Matt Hughes until he sold his gym. When Hughes’ gym sold, Tobar dropped out of college and packed a single duffle bag, heading west. He had heard about Professor Tom Theofanopoulos and the Oakdale MMA Academy. Theofanopoulos helped train Tobar.
“I eventually got back on my feet thanks to him. I got a car, I won my first three pro fights. In just two short years, this has been a wild ride, a lot of sacrifices over the years to get where I am now,” Tobar said.
Dedicating the fight in honor of his late grandfather, Ralph “Buck” Hanson, Tobar said he lost his grandfather earlier this month.
“He basically raised me. That man was incredible, my hero,” Tobar said.
Though unable to attend the funeral because of the timing of the fight, Tobar said he will honor his grandfather’s memory by working to provide for his family.
When he is not in the cage, Tobar can be found at Oakdale’s Revitalize Fitness where he is a personal trainer. Another passion that Tobar has is his missionary work, including time spent in Cambodia.
“The Lord’s work is very important to me. My faith and family keep me grounded,” he said. “After losing my grandfather, and having a baby on the way, I need to have that balance in my life.”