I do like to watch martial arts movies but I haven’t seen much real life fighting tournaments. Yeah, I’ve seen judo exhibitions and a few rounds of teens boxing, but they are, well, exhibitions.
I’ve also seen mixed martials arts (MMA) fights on cable and in some DVDs. I could not forget that replay on the Royce Gracie fights when he waylaid bigger foes like Kimo and Akebono. My current favorites include GSP, Anderson Silva, Machida and Jon Jones. My wife can’t dare watch those fights on TV. She’d turn them off when I am not looking.
So last Saturday night, in order to watch a real MMA and stand up kick boxing bouts in the “Fight Ground Championships” organized by SOMA Fighting Club and Back Fist Promotions at the San Roque Gym, I and my bro-in-law raced towards the fight venue. We’re going to watch our little bro showcase his kickboxing skills.
I thought we were late, as the news that morning stated that the fight would start at 6:30 pm. It was already past seven when we entered the church grounds to park our vehicle. From the outside, we heard them sing the national anthem.
We entered the gym nervous. Could these be real? They were plenty of guys proudly wearing their fight club uniforms. Until yesterday, I did not know that there are now plenty of mixed martial arts enthusiasts here in Cebu. Thanks to Jet Lee, Steven Seagal, and of course, Dana White of the UFC. And mixed martials arts is not just the traditional kung-fu, taekwondo or karate.
The first bout was like kids play. Maybe they were 10 or 11, I could not tell. One is obviously taller and bigger than the other. But they got their kicks and punches going. People in the side of my bleacher were cheering for the smaller kid. But he had difficulty hitting back. Many times he was thrown off after receiving the power kicks. At the end, the taller kid, who was from SOMA, won.
As we had no idea about the fighters, the bout we were actually anticipating was that of David “the Hurricane” Po vs Ryan “The Assassin” Salomon . We know David’s Tekken and Warcraft skills are above average. But for his kickboxing, we have to see it to believe.
I readied my borrowed camera when the names were announced. I hope I still have enough batteries for a video. We were at a comfortable elevated distance, which I think has a better view than that of the ring side.
Ryan is 3 or 4 inches shorter than David, but his body-builder like form is intimidating. To keep him at a distance would be the best option. That means kick and kick. David did connect some kicks to the head and to the body. But some strong punches from Ryan hit David’s jaw.
We wondered why David became known as “the Hurricane”. It must be those whirling back fist. He used them effectively in his last bout, putting his opponent to sleep in the first round. But for this fight, the back fists hit nothing, as the shorter Ryan kept on ducking.
It was obvious that both fighter lost steam in the third round. A lucky punch or kick could knock either one of them. Punches and kicks flew but without power. They’re just both waiting for the fight to end.
And unluckily for my video, my tired arms weren’t as steady as it should as I failed to catch them on frame when they were exchanging punches early in the second round. Memory was already full before David’s hand was raised as winner via unanimous decision. No one argued. We were relieved. But when the tournament was over we prodded David to practice and improve his endurance and stamina the next time around. This wasn’t the advice we heard from the parents though.
MMA and Kickboxing Results
Honestly, I failed to get the names of the fighters but the CDN article that Saturday listed all their names. All I had to do was confirm with David the winners.
Mark “Buhawi” Revalde defeated John Edu “The Prodigal Dragon” Torbiso. Leo Gaerlan of Yawyan Musang won via submission in the first round against Junrey Soquite. It was such a quick fight that also won the fight of the night honors. Romelo “Arcom” Espra upset the bigger Mark “The Terminator” Araneta. I initially thought that Araneta would swallow the smaller Espra, as he came strong in the first round, even coming up with a flying knee. But as they say in the UFC, anything can happen in the Octagon. And in this case, inside the ring, Araneta was forced to tap out after being pinned.
In first of the double main event, SOMA fighter James “Spider” Serenio used his striking skills in pounding Ali “The Grappler” Malawi. From the bleacher, we could hear the sound of Serenio’s fist hitting the face of Malawi. Though I expected some Gracie-like grappling from Malawi, he couldn’t show his wares as he was already down and hit very badly.
In the other main event between Jonjier “The Dangerous” Torbiso of the Durex Dragons of Lapu-Lapu City and Joerick “The Viper” Rivera of SOMA Fight Club, I thought it would last the distance as they were equally matched up. Joerick has a 3-0 immaculate record before the fight. Torbiso, on the hand, is said to be Manila-trained and a Fearless Fighting Championship veteran.
The exchanges of fists and kicks in the first round had the crowd on their feet. Later, a back fist hit the face of Torbiso and it was swiftly followed by a barrage of punches. It was so fast that I forgot how the fight ended. In the report from Sunstar, it was a guillotine choke. Joerick Rivera of SOMA emerged the victor and improved his record to 4-0.
“It’s the first time I got hit in the fight” Joerick said in Cebuano. “No other opponent has hit me in my previous encounters”. But looking at him after the fight, he seems calm and relaxed, as if he had not been fighting inside the ring a few minutes ago.
Early in the night for the kickboxing fights, YawYan Ardigma’s Renan “Limbas” Noblefranca defeated Jimwill Nainge; Maxel Yong defeated Nelson Navarette; John Dave Epile of SOMA won against Axel “The Specialist” Torbiso, Jr Boyonas won over Ryan Albiso and SOMA’s Oniel Epile defeated Jaspar Berdin.
The tall and pretty promo girls from Marlboro and Fortune were not able to sway away the attention of the audience. It seems like everyone’s eyes were glued on the ring. MMA is such an exciting sport but it is surely not for the faint-hearted.
The organizers are planning to make the event a quarterly activity. There will probably be another event this January so just watch out for the announcement.
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