Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ruiz looks to take another step at EFC card in Atlantic City

Gabriel Ruiz, the EFC's 125-lb dynamo, knew he loved to fight, but not much else when he wandered into the Extreme Fight Club Gym in Woodland Park, New Jersey, a couple years ago. The 22-year-old played some sports and wrestled senior year of high school, but other than street fights, was a blank slate.

Two years later, the "blank slate" is on a two-fight winning streak and headed into the biggest fight of his life when takes on fellow Jersey resident Damon Bonner on Saturday, March 9, 2013, in the Xanadu Theater at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, as part of "The Darwish Brothers Presents EFC: Relentless" MMA event.

In the night's main event, Bloomfield, New Jersey's undefeated Fabian "The Baby Face Killer" Rosario (6-0) will defend his EFC Welterweight Championship against Danny "Massacre" Massa (2-2) of Westchester Fight Club in New Rochelle, New York.

"I'm kind of a late starter," admits Ruiz. "But it's going really good. I'm an all-around fighter now. I like grappling, but I'm a stand-up fighter in my heart. I've got good takedown defense and I'm comfortable everywhere in the cage."

Ruiz credits trainer Hani Darwish for his quick transformation into a formidable fighter.

"I look up to Hani. He's a good guy and a good inspiration for me. He helps me out a lot with my conditioning, my skills, everything."

That trust wasn't broken even when Ruiz began his fighting career with two consecutive losses.

"I never felt like giving up. I'm the kind of person who never gives up. I always come back strong. You have to learn from your failures. Now I'm on a two-fight winning streak and I'm going to win this fight and make it three!"

Trainer Darwish holds Ruiz in high regard as well.

"Gabe is a guy with a huge heart who never backs down. He's been matched very tough and has come a long way in a short amount of time. When he steps in the cage you can always expect a good fight. He's constantly improving and will have a successful career in the sport. Gabe is like a little brother to me. He practically lives in the gym and has a burning desire to be a champion inside and outside the cage."

Ruiz, who is also currently in school for Heating and Cooling, says his goal is to rack up 10 consecutive amateur wins and then, when Darwish gives the word, turn professional. The ultimate dream is a crack at the UFC.

"I feel like I have a lot of potential, so I'm just going with the flow, step by step. I get up, do my exercise and run, do a 45-minute workout and then go to school. From school, I go straight to the gym. I teach classes there, but while I'm teaching, I am reviewing my own technique. Then I train for two hours, sparring and grappling, then go home and do another quick workout.  I'm just going to work hard on everything I want because life is not easy. You gotta keep working hard and stay positive."

Tickets for "The Darwish Brothers Presents EFC: Relentless" are priced at $45, $55, $65, $75, $100 and $125 Cageside and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets,, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Trump Taj Mahal box office on fight night.

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