On Saturday night, mixed martial arts fans of all shapes and sizes trooped to the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig to catch PXC 28 live.
Among the faces in the crowd were several PBA players, including Eric Menk of Ginebra, Danny Seigle, Mick Pennisi, Don Allado and Jondan Salvador of Barako Bull, B-MEG assistant coach Jeffrey Cariaso, Alaska Aces Tony Dela Cruz and Brandon Cablay, and Sudan Daniel of San Beda College in the NCAA.
Menk is a professed hardcore MMA fan, having followed the sport closely for the last seven or eight years. He watches not just the UFC, but also the smaller MMA promotions around the world.
“I’m a big fan of the UFC,” Menk said. “I used to watch Pride a lot. I even watch Bellator and Strikeforce and the current ones in Japan, Dream and Sengoku.”
Seigle and Pennisi, too, are longtime fans of the sport and have plenty of respect for the fighters.
“I really do appreciate what these guys do,” said Pennisi. “These are really skilled guys. They’re real athletes.”
“I know what these fighters go through. They work hard,” said Seigle. “I like listening to how they train and how they prepare for the fights. It’s not just going in there and trying to hit each other. There’s a lot of strategy going on and they really prepare for the fight.”
Menk admitted to doing a little bit of cross-training into MMA training techniques for footwork and conditioning.
“But as far as technical skills, I don’t do that,” said Menk.
The PBA stars hope that more Filipino fans show interest in the sport.
“It’s a growing sport. It’s a great sport,” said Seigle. “I just hope everyone else would get into it more.”
Pennisi, in particular, seemed enamored with the live PXC event that featured several fighters both from the Philippines and from abroad.
Guam’s Jon Tuck, who was supported by relatives both from the Philippines and Guam, and Filipino-American Tristan Arenal headlined the PXC 28 card.
“These are world-class guys, and I’m glad that they’ve come to the Philippines,” said Pennisi. “This is my first match to watch live but I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last.”
Fans, however, shouldn’t hold their breath about the possibility of the players going into the cage after their basketball careers are over.
“Oh definitely not. Hell no,” said Pennisi. “Maybe Eric Menk.”
“I’m old already,” said Menk. “I love the competition, the skill and the toughness that you have to have. But I’m 37 right now and I’m a basketball player. I don’t need to be punched and kicked and have my arm broken off.”