MMA

Michinori Tanaka snatches PXC bantamweight title from hometown fighter Crisanto Pitpitunge

InterAKTV/Mikkel Bolante

InterAKTV/Mikkel Bolante

Japanese challenger Michinori Tanaka utilized his superior wrestling and ground control to dominate his title fight against Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC) champion Crisanto ‘The Slugger’ Pitpitunge of the Philippines to claim the bantamweight belt and place himself atop the 135-lb. division in the main event of PXC 37 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Tanaka flaunted his advantage early, taking the champion to the ground in the first round and slapping on a neck crank. But Pitpitunge would manage to escape from under his dangerous challenger and land some solid leg kicks standing up. The round ended with Pitpitunge trying to lock in a rear-naked choke that proved to be unsuccessful.

The second round was more of the same, with Tanaka being very cautious on the feet and picking an opportune time to take the champion, who was outmatched in the wrestling game, down to the mat and dropping some ground and pound. The Filipino champion was deducted a point at the end of the round for holding the gloves of his opponent.

With the champion behind on the scorecards, Pitpitunge tried to be the aggressor standing up but it only led to more takedowns from the Japanese contender in the third and fourth rounds. Even when Pitpitunge had some success, like when he was able to get a reversal at the 1:46 mark in the third, he was thwarted by Tanaka, who was able to get a counter on the reversal five seconds later.

Pitpitunge was able to put up more of a fight in the final round but still lost the unanimous decision – and his title – to his favored Japanese foe.

In the co-main event, Korean featherweight Jang Yong Kim locked in a kimura on opponent Nate Thorell to win his semifinal match in the PXC’s 145-lb. tournament and advance to the finals, where he will be fighting for the title against the winner of the other half of the semifinal bracket.

Filipino-American rising star Mark Striegl and Japanese fighter Takumi Nakayama, who won his PXC 37 fight against Johnny Pecyna and replaced Striegl’s original semis opponent Yusuke Yachi, fight for the other finals spot in August.

Nakayama impressed PXC management with his own first-round submission finish of Pecyna by kimura.

In the other fights, Trevin Jones defeated Filipino Troy Bantiag to throw his name back in contention in the bantamweight division while Reno Remigio knocked out Korean lightweight contender Hong Seung Chan. Filipino Ernesto Montilla, Jr. also impressed with a TKO of countryman Jerome Wanawan of Team Lakay.

Singaporean prospect Syafiq Abdul Samad won his PXC debut against Brazilian Wesley Machado while Rolando Dy defeated Arex Montalban.

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