Best Mixed Martial Arts Fighter - 2010
Luis "Baboon" Palomino
There are fighters. And there are head busters. Count Luis "Baboon" Palomino in the latter category. As a member of Team MMA Masters, out of Overtown, the Peruvian mixed martial artist puts on a gritty performance every time he steps into the octagon. The five-foot-six, 150-pound fighter relies on his quick athleticism and awesome punching power. If he catches his opponents with one of his left or right hooks, it's over. Since going pro in 2006, Palomino has amassed a 12-6 record, with seven knockouts. As a teenager, he grew up between Miami Beach and South Dade during an era when teen gangs wrecked havoc across the county. Palomino didn't affiliate himself with any colors, but he still had to use his fists to defend himself from bangers in his neighborhood. "It wasn't easy," he recalls, "especially when you don't have 10, 20 guys backing you up." And in the world of MMA, a little showmanship is necessary, which Palomino doesn't shy from. Witness all the trash-talking he and his last opponent, Jorge Masvidal, engaged in. The two fought to a split decision at this past February's G-Force Fights-Bad Blood 3 at the American Airlines Arena. G-Force owner and former Miami Heat player Glen Rice praised Palomino. "Palomino stepped up and got his respect," Rice said. "His performance was a tribute to his hard work." MMA Masters coach Cesar Carneiro promises Palomino will one day be a world champion. "No one is going to stop him."