Filipino mixed martial arts fighter Ale “The Young Gun” Cali is right on the verge of making Pacific X-treme Combat history.
The 21-year-old flyweight from Davao is fighting Guamanian Jesse “The Spiderman” Taitano for the vacant PXC 125-lb title at PXC 29 on Saturday. If he proves successful, he’ll be the first homegrown Filipino to win a title in the promotion.
Cali has come a long way from the 10-year-old boy that started out in the sport of boxing in 1999. He enjoyed mild success as an amateur but could not find breakthrough success when he turned pro at age 17. Looking for a different sport to take up, Cali chanced upon MMA, a fast-rising sport in his area.
“I was entered in a Muay Thai event that was organized by coach Bambi Posadas. He saw my performance and saw some potential, so he grabbed me and started training me in jiu-jitsu,” said Cali.
Cali began training under the Beefit Python’s Pit MMA team of Posadas and tested the waters in the Filipino promotion Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) when they held cards in his hometown Davao.
The young fighter lost his debut fight against Salvador Larozza but he bounced back with an impressive TKO victory a year later that caught the attention of the Guam-based regional promotion PXC.
“We’ve heard a lot of hype about him. We’ve heard how quick he was,” said PXC general manager EJ Calvo.
Cali debuted in the PXC with another win via TKO, stopping Josh Alvarez in the first round with his crisp boxing at PXC 26 in Resorts World Manila. He then followed that with a unanimous decision win at PXC 28 at the Ynares Sports Arena against Dylan Pablo where Cali danced and feinted his way to an easy victory.
“Ale Cali has just been nothing but a rising star here in the PXC in the Philippines since he entered our cage,” Calvo said. “We already saw his boxing skills when he first got in the cage, but what he proved in his last fight against, really a pure wrestler, is his ability to defend the takedown, his ability to keep the fight standing up.”
“And so he’s impressed us to a point where he’s absolutely deserving of a title shot.”
Cali and his superior boxing skills has drawn comparisons in PXC circles to some professional boxers like Manny Pacquiao for his speed and Floyd Mayweather for his fancy footwork in the cage. Obviously, he’s nowhere even near the level of the top pound-for-pound fighters in boxing, but Cali has clearly proven himself a cut above his competition in the PXC. He admits he patterns his game after boxing great Roy Jones, Jr., instead of Pacman or Mayweather.
To win the title, though, Cali knows he has to buckle down on the weakest part of his MMA repertoire: the ground game. He’s had to work on his jiu-jitsu a lot for this fight, with his entire Davao team helping out with his training on the ground.
“Even the ones that are usually too big to roll with me, they join my training. Even our head trainer joins in my training. They do that only for me,” said Cali.
“This fight is really important and everyone is giving their all for the improvement of my ground game.”
Cali will also have to cut down on the showboating this time around. While he got away with playing to the crowd against Pablo in his last fight, Taitano is an extremely experienced opponent, and will likely make him pay if he tries anything funny in the title fight.
“I’ll adjust my gameplan for him. In the last fight, I was moving too much unnecessarily and I noticed that I got tired early because of all the dancing I was doing,” Cali said.
“I’ll be more careful, because the guy I’m fighting now is much more experienced,” he promised. Cali holds a 3-1 MMA record, while Taitano is a veteran of 15 fights in 7 promotions including several in Shooto in Japan and the PXC.
Cali is aware that a title would mean a lot, and not just for him personally.
“It’s a big deal for me,” said Cali. “But also for the guys in Davao, for me to show that I didn’t take their hard work for granted.”
“Not to put any more pressure on Ale, now this is a great opportunity for Ale but is sets the tone (for the homegrown fighters),” said Calvo.
“There’s a handful of very exciting fighters coming through the PXC ranks. Some of them are Ale’s teammates, and some hailing from other areas of the Philippines.”
Calvo believes Cali is ready to take a rise in quality of competition and this fight could show just how far he’s come.
“He’s showing people he’s ready to take on better fighters, not just from his neighborhood, not just from the Philippines or Manila, but from anywhere in the world.”
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