In mixed martial arts, sometimes the sidelines are just as exciting as the fights in the cage.
That’s especially true when you’ve got big names working the corners.
“Some of the fighters are training partners with well-known names. They were hoping to invite more of these UFC stars to their fights here in the Philippines,” said Pacific X-treme Combat general manager EJ Calvo. “And we’re helping encourage them.”
Raja Shippen, who will be fighting Harris Sarmiento at the co-main event of PXC 29 on Saturday, fights out of the Reign MMA gym in Orange County, California and will be bringing over his coach, UFC middleweight contender Mark Muñoz, to corner for him.
“Mark Muñoz is their main instructor. But Jason Miller, Jake Ellenberger… they have like four or five guys that are in the UFC that train with Raja in the gym,” Calvo said.
“He just mentioned to me now his hope to continue fighting at PXC and invite some of the other guys to attend fights and coach fights. And there are so many up-and-coming fighters in the gym that we should really look at. So we’re always looking at that kind of talent and often they have celebrity coaches leading their gym.”
Also on the PXC 29 card is Roy Boughton, who trains at the San Francisco gym of Cesar Gracie. Among the camp’s fighters and coaches are the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate Diaz, Jake Shields and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Moses Baca, who competed in PXC 28 last November, also comes from the same camp.
“From the Cesar Gracie camp, there are guys that it’s now their second or third time fighting here.”
Brandon Vera has already attended PXC events in support of fighters from his Alliance MMA camp, and Jason “Mayhem” Miller was scheduled to corner for Shippen before Muñoz confirmed his participation.
“You’ll never know who you’ll see at the PXC whether in the corner or at the front row.”
That said, there have been interesting discussions for big names to appear inside the PXC cage as well.
There were rumors of former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar Batista possibly fighting for the promotion. Calvo confirmed that discussions took place but that a possible return to pro wrestling derailed Batista’s MMA plans.
“Batista was seriously interested in signing a heavyweight contract. He trains at the same Cesar Gracie Academy and that where he was learning his jiu-jitsu skills, learning his MMA skills,” said Calvo.
“He did a couple of exhibition fights and was ready to come and do a show in a big market like Manila where people know his name. And that’s why he wanted to come and fight for us.”
“But I think it’s fair to say we were talking and we thought it would be a great opportunity but his career moved back to his roots.”
Calvo wouldn’t close the door on the possibility, though.
“Who knows if that conversation will pick up again in the future,” he mused.
In the past, the PXC has not been afraid to bring in some former UFC fighters to test the guys coming up the PXC ranks. Guys like Jeremy Horn, Dan Severn and Wesley “Cabbage” Correira all competed for the Asia-Pacific promotion in their post-UFC careers.
“Absolutely, we like looking at big names that have fought previously in the UFC or have made a name for themselves,” said Calvo. “But we don’t try to just use those guys as promotional tools. What we like to do is get those guys that have proven themselves and use them as a testing ground.”
“For a young fighter coming up the ranks in this region, to fight a former UFC fighter, it really shows that you’re ready to take it to the next level. Maybe that fighter isn’t at their prime, but our mission isn’t to just get leftovers. We’re looking for guys that are still very tough.”
“That’s the thing about the PXC. We’re at the level of MMA that is the highest in Asia-Pacific. If you excel or do well in PXC competition, you’re going to be ready to go to the next level,” said Calvo.
Calvo credits their fighters’ affiliations with some of the best MMA gyms and camps as a big reason for that.
“It’s not just (the big name coaches) sitting there just for show. They’re actually there training the fighters and setting a good example of how to be a professional. That’s what I think helps the sport.”
“That’s what’s raising the level of MMA in the PXC.”
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