MMA

Cali puts title on the line versus comebacking Tagle as PXC 34 invades SMART-Araneta Coliseum

InterAKTV/Roy Afable

Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC) is set to invade the Big Dome when flyweight champion Ale ‘The Young Gun’ Cali makes his first title defense against comebacking Filipino MMA legend Erwin Tagle while lightweight champ Harris ‘The Hitman’ Sarmiento moves down in weight to face undefeated rising star Mark ‘Mugen’ Striegl in the main card of PXC 34 Saturday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“We’re very honored to be moving to the Araneta Coliseum for this event. It was a dream, maybe two years ago, to start small, show that we had the best fighters in the Pacific region ready to compete, and really gain fans here in the Philippines. And we always talked about going to the Araneta Coliseum or a venue of that size but we never thought it would come so soon,” said PXC general manager and promoter EJ Calvo.

Previous PXC fight cards were held in the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila and at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

But with a big fight card featuring two PXC champions, some of the fastest-rising Filipino prospects and the highly-anticipated return of the veteran Tagle, they knew they had the opportunity to take it to the next level and move to the mecca of Philippine sports.

“When we got this fight card come together, we knew this was the time to go to the next stage,” said Calvo.

The 21-year-old Cali, the first homegrown Filipino champion in the PXC, has torn through the PXC flyweight division since debuting in August of last year. He has won three in a row, including two by knockout, and has looked impressive in each of his fights.

The power-punching champion from Davao, though, will have a tough task in front of him as he takes on submission specialist Tagle. The fight will feature a classic clash of styles with the champ having an expected advantage in the standup while the veteran challenger will hold an edge on the ground.

Both promise to be better versions of themselves come Saturday, though, with both fighters adding new aspects to their MMA games in preparation for the fight.

“Martial arts, it evolves, it’s like a living thing, sabi nga ni Bruce Lee,” said Tagle, who will also be looking to shake off rust from a two-year absence from fighting. “10 years ago, ibang-iba yung martial arts, MMA (scene). Now, we have frequent visitors from Guam, from the US, from Hawaii, who upgrade our techniques and training.”

“You’ll see the latest (version of) Erwin Tagle.”

Cali, too, has mixed up his training for the fight, spending part of his camp in Manila to work on his wrestling.

“Pumunta ako dito para i-upgrade ko yung takedown defense ko. Kasi alam ko dito magaling si Erwin,” said the champion.

Both fighters expect a war in the main event, promising an exciting fight that could end up being a Fight of the Night candidate.

In the co-main event, lightweight champion Sarmiento makes a return to 145 lbs as he looks to derail the momentum of the fast-rising Striegl.

Sarmiento is a veteran of over 50 fights and has faced off against top-caliber MMA fighters like Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Roger Huerta and Jonathan Brookins.

“I don’t really care who they put in front of me. I just want to fight and I want to win,” said Sarmiento, who is looking to make a run at the featherweight title on top of the 155-lbs belt he already owns.

Striegl, meanwhile, boasts an impressive 11-0 record, with nine of those win coming on submissions. He is an aggressive finisher with a dangerous arsenal on the ground that could catapult himself into the title mix with a high-profile win over the lightweight champ.

“I’m here to win, myself,” said Striegl. “Harris is a great guy, we got along well at the last show. But it’s all business inside the cage.”

In the undercards, undefeated Filipino prospects Jerome Wanawan of Team Lakay and Eugene Toquero of Tagle’s Submission Sports camp clash in an exciting flyweight bout.

Toquero is 3-0 in the PXC, with all three coming by way of knockout. Wanawan, meanwhile, also boasts of a 3-0 MMA record and debuted in the PXC last September with a TKO win of his own.

Also on the card are a lightweight fight between Tristan Arenal and Isaiah Ordiz, a bantamweight clash between Russell Doane and Michinori Tanaka and a featherweight duel between Dustin Kimura and Guy Delameau.

PXC is presented by San Mig Strong Ice and Sports 5. With special thanks to E-Games, Fitness First, FHM Philippines, FHM.com.ph, Premiere Condoms, Healthway Agility Phil, Beer Below Zero, Real Sports Radio, and Loqal.ph.

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