ONE Big Fight

FILIPINO mixed martial arts fighters are conquering the world stage, lately. More and more Pinoy warriors are showing up in fight cards all over the world.

Three Pinoy fighters, Eric “The Natural” Kelly, Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio and debuting Filipina Jomary Torres just did their thing in the ONE: Kings and Conquerors fight night in Macau on August 5. Now, four Pinoy fighters are going to Kuala Lumpur to slug-kick-pin-and-elbow their way through ONE: Quest for Greatness on August 18.

Kelly and Pacio lost their bouts in Macau, but the unheralded Filipina, Jomary Torres, stunned the crowd and her opponent with her performance. Torres overcame insurmountable odds to give Thai martial arts superstar Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige the first blemish in her professional record. Torres endured Ishige’s early punishment, who wasted no time in taking Torres to the ground, nearly scoring a submission finish via arm bar. But in the second round, Torres pulled off a gutsy rally, shaking up Ishige with a torrent of right hand lashes. Then she dropped her opponent with another quick right cross. Torres then followed her to the mat and fastened a rear-naked choke, forcing her to tap.

Postfight, the wushu-trained Torres said she knew what Ishige was capable of doing inside the cage. “She has a good muay thai base. Aside from that, she also has a good ground game. I have no problem if she wants to fight standing up. I already expected that she would trade strikes with me. But I came into this bout very prepared. I did not give myself any room for error. I’ve worked hard to make it here, so I didn’t waste this opportunity,” she said.

Confident and brimming with Team Catalan spirit, Torres explained that, going forward, she will concentrate her training on herself. “It does not matter about the opponent. The important thing for success is self-confidence. The key to self-confidence is preparation, and I will always be well prepared for the fight. If I have good preparation, I can fight anybody.”

Come next Friday, KL’s Stadium Negara will scream anew with intense martial arts fervor when the next ONE Fight Night, entitled ONE: Quest Foir Greatness happens. In the main event is the highly-anticipated contest between reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov (15-0) and challenger Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen (8-1) of Australia. Malaysian Ev Ting, who challenged reigning ONE Championship lightweight champion Edward Folayang in Manila in April, will go up against former welterweight titleholder Nobutasu Susuzi that night, alongside fellow Malaysian superstars Agilan Thani, Ann Osman, Gianni Subba and Keannu Subba.

But wait. Pinoy fighters galore are on the card too. Team Lakay’s Kevin “Silencer” Belingon will go up against Fil-Aussie sensation Reece McLaren and Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly (both of them from Team Lakay) will tangle with the United States’ Emilio Urrutia. Meanwhile, the Catalan Brothers—Rene “The Challenger” Catalan and Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan”—will try to conquer their rivals, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysorichoke of Thailand and Buhuoyouga of China, respectively. The Catalan Brothers come from the Catalan Fighting System, of which Rene is head coach.

Team Lakay and the Catalan Fighting System have produced the fightingest and really top-calibre MMA fighters this side of the globe and are household names in Philippine MMA

Danny Kingad of Team Lakay was also supposed to fight in KL, but the match was removed and a new opponent will be assigned. Team Lakay Head Coach Mark Sangiao has this to say: “We’ve been waiting for another Danny Kingad bout but fate is not playing on our side this time. From Hexigetu’s camp (opponent), something transpired, mothballing their fight. Having said that, Lakay Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon and Edward Kelly are forging ahead. With them on the card, it’s going to be highly-charged  matches (in KL)! Lakay Danny for sure will have his own juncture.”

All hail, Pinoy fighters. All hail!

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Tessa Jazmines is one of the first women sportswriters in the country who ventured into the then still exclusively male profession in the 70’s. She joined the Business Mirror in August 2006 and writes about various sports and their nuances. A journalism graduate with a masters in communication from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, she teaches public relations and sports writing, also at UP, and runs her own PR company, Larc&Asset PR.