MMA

PXC 41: Louis Smolka dethrones Ale Cali, wins flyweight crown

Sports5/Bayani O. Bravante

Sports5/Bayani O. Bravante

Hawaiian challenger Louis ‘Da Last Samurai’ Smolka proved he was the top dog of the 125-lb. division after finishing the flyweight champion, Ale Cali, in front of his home crowd in the main event of Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC) 41 on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Smolka was impressive in his first shot at the PXC title, taking down the champion at will and punishing him with brutal ground strikes until the referee was forced to step in and end it in the second round.

In the other featured fights, Korean Han Bin Park submitted former bantamweight champion Crisanto Pitpitunge while Gina Iniong, the first Filipina to fight inside the PXC cage, impressed in her debut with a first-round TKO of Nathalie Heidel.

The main event was expected to be an interesting clash of styles with Smolka, a skilled submission artist, taking on the power-punching former boxer Cali.

And it lived up to the billing early with the Hawaiian – fighting out of 808 Top Team with the likes of PXC lightweight champ Harris Sarmiento – dominating on the ground early and Cali looking strong in the standup.

The first round began with Smolka scoring an early takedown and opening a cut on Cali’s forehead with some short elbows. But the champ was able to get up and looked like he evened things up when he hurt the challenger with some clean shots to the body.

But Smolka was able to use his superior wrestling to get back in control and closed the first round with a little more ground and pound while the crowd urged Cali on with chants of his name.

The challenger then grabbed an opportunity to finish things in the second round when he trapped a downed Cali against the cage and rained down strikes until the stoppage.

In the co-main event, Park fell behind the scorecards early but came out with the requisite urgency in the third round and it paid off in a big way as he finished his Filipino opponent via rear-naked choke.

Pitpitunge was able to force Park into a standup war in the first two rounds, and that favored the former champion from Team Lakay, who showcased his talents in the standup in the opening rounds.

Sensing that he was behind in the eyes of the jusges, Park came out the aggressor in the final round, stringing together a head kick, a flying knee and a flurry of punches that dropped Pitpitunge. The Koean then climbed onto the Filipino’s back and choked him out for the win.

The debut of Iniong in the PXC, though, didn’t disappoint as she showcased her power in a big win over Heidel.

Ininong opened the fight with guns ablaze, landing two big straights straight from the opening bell. Heidel got a takedown, but Iniong reversed and was able to get back to her feet.

She then provided one of the highlights of the evening when she smashed a big right hand into Heidel while the latter was attempting to stand. She pounced on her downed opponent, moving into side control and isolating her opponent’s right arm before pounding away for the stoppage.

In the other matches, it was Ernesto Montilla, Jr. and Harold Banario picking up wins over fellow Filipinos Jinel Lausa and Joseph Mercado, respectively. Montilla used his wrestling to frustrate Lausa while Banario survived a late flurry from Mercado before coming away with a win on the scorecards.

Bantamweights Johnny Pecyna and Shane Alvarez also emerged victorious with submission wins. Pecyna choked out Team Lakay’s Troy Bantiag with an arm triangle while Alvarez forced Kid Orais to tap out to the Americana keylock, both in the first round.

Featherweight Mark Striegl was supposed to compete on the card but his opponent Ev Ting failed to make weight, missing the cut by seven pounds. Also scrapped was the clash between Frank Camacho and Seung Hwan Bang after both fighters missed weight.

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