Lodi fighter Josh Thornburg of the famed Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu academy (the home of Nick and Nate Diaz) will attempt to reignite his once-promising career at the expense of former Oakdale High wrestler, football player and undefeated Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts Academy fighter Buddy Wallace.
But Wallace will be no easy task.
The well-rounded welterweight fighter of Oakdale dispatched a previously unbeaten Beau Hamilton (2-1) with a third-round TKO at the Stockton Arena on Oct. 27 to improve his sterling professional record to 3-0. Wallace boasts the prestige of an accomplished amateur fighter with a penchant for big strikes on his feet despite the background of a successful wrestler.
Wallace will put his spotless record on the line at the Chicken Ranch Casino on Jan. 19. The fight is the main event of the Art Of War Productions ‘Respect The Game’ fight card and will decide possession of the first ever vacant welterweight professional belt.
“This is the first time I have made it on a poster as the main event,” Wallace said on Saturday. “It was bound to happen sooner or later.”
It’s not the biggest venue Thornburg has fought in, but an opportunity to get back in the form that saw him land a 7-1 start to his professional career and entry in one of the premier fight leagues in MMA, Strikeforce. It was then (March of 2011), that Thornburg’s career began a sudden descent. He lost a decision to Roger Bowling (11-3), then was knocked out in the first round by James Terry (11-5). The losses spurned a 1-5 streak of bouts where Thornburg’s only win came against Gabriel Lopez (1-9). According to sherdog.com, Thornburg was knocked out in 13 seconds (July of 2012) and 19 seconds (Oct. 1 of 2011) in each of his last two fights.
“I heard that he was knocked out pretty quick and that’s actually my game plan, to stand with him and go for a knockout,” Wallace said. “I would like to keep it on my feet.”
Thornburg’s other loss amidst his streak of defeats was a knockout to a famed veteran fighter of California’s small fight leagues, Jaime ‘El Cucui’ Jara. El Cucui is 32-13 as a pro and has lost his four latest fights after dispatching Thornburg.
The Lodi fighter has waged war in 21 rounds, with only three fights reaching the third round and nine ended by the first.
“I think it will be a good test for me,” Wallace said. “I know (Thornburg) has a lot more experience than me, but I feel like with the guys I train with and the training I have had, I match up pretty well against him.
“I feel like by taking this fight I will be taking the next step to fight more well-known opponents.”
Wallace was a four-year football player and wrestler for OHS who adjusted his fight game to include the apt strikes Oakdale MMA fighters are known for, as well as comparable jiu-jitsu. Wallace took notice of the Mustang football team’s run to a state bowl game this fall and hopes his own exploits will add to Oakdale lore.
“I am proud of them for keeping the tradition alive at Oakdale High,” Wallace said. “Oakdale has always had tough kids coming out of this town and I am proud to be doing something beyond high school.
“I feel like Oakdale is a small town, but will continue to be put on the map through MMA like the other sports already have.”
The AOW card will feature three other title fights, including an amateur strawweight title defense from talented Oakdale MMA female fighter, Mercedez Campos vs. Serina Soto.