PXC 29: Cali makes history as first homegrown Filipino champion

AKTV/Paul Mata

Whenever Pacific X-treme Combat comes around, fight fans are always guaranteed an exciting spectacle of quality mixed martial arts, and Saturday night’s action certainly did nothing to taint that reputation.

The main event left all those in attendance at the Ynares Sports Arena on their feet, as crowd favorite Ale Cali made history by being the first homegrown Filipino to become a PXC champion after he captured the vacant flyweight (125-lb) title.

It could have easily gone wrong for the Davao native, with veteran Jesse Taitano completely dominating the first round. Having taken down Cali with relative ease, the Guamanian controlled well on the ground and came close to ending the fight on a few occasions with some close submissions. Somehow the 21-year-old Cali managed to survive the constant pressure, and when he stuffed Jesse’s first takedown attempt in the second round with relative ease, it became clear who would end up winning.

As Taitano slowly faded, Cali grew in confidence, picking his shots and seriously hurting his opponent with his crisp boxing. Jesse proved his mettle though, braving the onslaught and making sure the fight would see a third round.

But it would be the last round for Taitano, as he was finally overwhelmed by Cali’s strikes, forcing the referee to stop the fight. The crowd, understandably, were in complete delirium. It was a perfect way to end a night that was jam-packed with exciting battles.

The co-main event saw 155-lb champion Harris Sarmiento make a real case for a title shot at 145 by making light work of California-native Raja Shippen. Despite his opponent’s solid Muay Thai background, the Filipino-American chose to duke it out on the feet and his confidence was rewarded when an overhand right connected, sending Raja sprawling to the ground. And like a true predator, Sarmiento quickly pounced with some quick shots, giving the referee no other option than to stop the fight.

The big boys were in action as well in PXC 29 and they showed just how important the ground game is in this sport. In the 205-lb division, Ryan Boughton utilized his superior wrestling to earn a one-sided unanimous decision over Ilima Maiva, while Ryan Biggler showed he will be a force at 170 after he annihilated Dorian Price. From the immediate takedown to the eventual rear-naked choke, Biggler’s flawless victory left the jiu-jitsu purists with something to smile about.

Aside from Cali, another Filipino in Crisanto Pitpitunge made a real statement on the night. His lopsided unanimous decision victory over Victor Galdon puts him in in a great position in the 135-lb division where Guamanian Justin Cruz currently reigns supreme.

In the other fights, Jay Tenorio submitted Filipino Carlo Astudillo via guillotine choke in the second round. Glen Ranillo overcame adversity to submit Jerry Leagaspi with a Kimura from the guard. Eugen Toquero won via TKO over Ricky Lucena.

And in the pick of the lot of the underdards was a crazy fight between Team Lakay’s Troy Bantiag and Submission Sport’s Michael Regalado. It was a display of pure heart from both fighters, but it was Bantiag who eked out a unanimous 29-28 victory.

After an amazing night of fights, it will be quite a wait for PXC fans, with the next one tentatively scheduled to happen in June. Until then, the fond memories of PXC 29 will have to be enough to satisfy the Philippines’ growing MMA appetite.

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