Ryan Tobar has aspirations so high that he has to sleep in an Oakdale loft just to keep up with them.
The Modesto native who moved to Iowa when he was six, returned to the Central Valley six months ago, and now stays in a loft at the dazzling new Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
The home of Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Michael McDonald is a proven mecca for local talent and the perfect launch-point for Tobar’s promising professional career.
It all begins Saturday, Aug. 3, in the first of five pro fights on the Tactical Violence Fight Card for Art of War Productions at the Chicken Ranch Casino in Jamestown. The event also features 16 amateur bouts, a total of six Oakdale MMA fighters and Oakdale High graduate Buddy Wallace (6-1), who fights for the 170-pound title against Jeremy Ybarra of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male.
At 155 pounds (lightweight) Tobar squares off with Steven Cartwright (1-3), an experienced fighter who is 1-1 in his last two AOW bouts.
He’s certainly not taking the debut lightly.
“I know he has had four professional bouts, and he’s already a bit of a journeyman,” Tobar said of Cartwright. “He’s always willing to fight some good guys, and he comes ready to fight.”
Tobar said he feels his striking is the strongest aspect of his game, but is comfortable with anywhere the fight takes him. It’s a level of confidence that comes from invaluable sparring with Oakdale MMA fighters that range from 135-pound McDonald to 205-pound Angel DeAnda.
DeAnda has generated his own fame through the Tachi Fight Palace, and earned a highly anticipated showdown with world-renowned kick boxer Tyrone Spong in the main event of World Series of Fighting 4 in Ontario on Aug. 10.
McDonald is fresh off a UFC title loss to Renan Barão of Brazil (No. 9 in the world, pound-for-pound rankings by ESPN), but fights Brad Pickett on Aug. 17 during the UFC on Fox Sports 1 card in Boston.
McDonald and DeAnda will be the corner coaches for Tobar on a night that also includes McDonald’s brother, Justin Smitley (8-7), in a main event against Justin Farmer (3-2).
Oakdale MMA amateurs Mike John, Sal Bacerra and La Vang will also fight on the AOW card.
For Tobar, the night represents an opportunity to showcase the spoils of a prestigious 10-3 amateur career and staple his name onto the California fight game. The slugger claimed both Iowa Extreme Challenge and Illinois Extreme Challenge state championship belts, but found himself in a conversation with Oakdale instructor Tom Theofanopoulos after an impromptu move west.
He instantly absorbed the chemistry of the Oakdale fight team, dubbed ‘Team Last Stand’
“Tom and I just really hit it off,” Tobar said. “He’s really helped me out so much, and the new gym that we have is just awesome.
“I have trained in other world class gyms, but this one is just as nice, and it provides more available one-on-one with coaches. It really is the best gym I have ever been to.”
AUG. 3 AOW MMA FIGHT CARD
Justin Smitley vs. Justin Farmer
Buddy Wallace vs. Jeremy Ybarra
Mike Persons vs. Marcus Gaines
Johnny Marez vs. Ray Cervera
Ryan Tobar vs. Steven Cartwright
Luis Jauregui vs. Kyle Burks
Mike John vs. Roque Reyes
Thomas Thongseng vs. Dan Oseguera
Jay Jay Santana vs. J.J. Cortez
Anthony Torres vs. Alan Ybarra
Sal Bacerra vs. Brandon Hafer
Cesar Gomez vs. Bill Peck
La Vang vs. Edgar Loza
Eric Gomez vs. Mario Geronimo
Joel Trujillo vs. Kayanno Yorrie
Humberto Taveraz vs. D.J. Balatayo
Johnny Miranda vs. Jesse Cordero
Tanner Arebalo vs. Dillon Baker
Ernie Lopez vs. Vitor Terra
Justin Ford vs. Steven Abshire