The Mountain Area’s favorite mixed martial arts fighter, Anthony “A Train” Ruiz of Coarsegold, entered the Tachi Palace Casino ring Aug. 3 knowing it would be his last fight.
“When I was offered this fight about three months ago, I was already thinking about retiring,” Ruiz said. “It was getting harder and harder to give 100% to my family, my Cal Fire job, and fighting, so I decided this one would be my last fight.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was 23 when he had his first fight on Feb. 27, 2002. He lost that first fight and then went on to win his next six.
Now 39, he ended his career on a high note at Tachi Palace in Lemoore by earning a second round victory with a choke hold submission over Joey Cabezas in the night’s main event.
Ruiz ended his career with a record of 35-23, with 25 of those bouts coming by way of knockouts.
The former Yosemite High School wrestler (class of 1996), owns two impressive belts - the 2005 West Coast Fighting Championship Belt - and the 185-pound 2014 Championship Belt from Pure Combat.
He remembers well the opportunity to fight before a Mountain Area crowd at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in May of 2014.
“That meant everything to me to have the chance to fight there in front of my family and supporters,” Ruiz said. “It has been amazing how much support and love I have received over the years from everyone in the Mountain Area. Fighting there was a dream come true.”
Ruiz also fought three times in exhibition fights in Russia, the first time in 2014. After that first fight there, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin got in the center of the ring and said “If we all had a heart like this American, we could change the world.”
Ruiz was not aware of what Putin said until it was translated for him. Before his last fight in Lemoore, he had a fight in Dubai.
Ruiz fought out of the Dethrone Basecamp in Fresno, and has been sponsored by 51 Fifty energy drink for most of his career.
“Anthony is a great guy and he is truly a trailblazer for the sport,” Up and Comers (UPC) President Jason Wiener once said. “He has always had a reputation of a first-class, humble guy who you knew would always so get in that ring and let it rip.”
Ruiz’s wife Tricia, and two children, Alli, 17, and AJ, 10, were there for ‘dad’s’ final victory of his cage fighting career. Also in attendance were his parents, George Ruiz of Nipinnawase, and Lori Bellefeuille of Ahwahnee.
Ruiz said earnings from his career helped purchase his Coarsegold home, a pontoon boat, and provide for his family.
“I meet some of the best people, including some movie stars, traveled the world, and experienced things I would have never been able to do if it wasn’t for fighting,” Ruiz said. “It felt good to go out on top and I will always be thankful for the life I lived as a cage fighter.”