At Pacific X-Treme Combat 29, Ale Cali became the first homegrown Filipino to win a championship in the Guam-based promotion. A mere hours after winning the PXC 125-lb championship, Cali and manager Otek Durante talked InterAKTV through Cali’s title fight against Guamanian Jesse “The Spiderman” Taitano.
Cali, with the PXC belt slung across his shoulder, and Durante shared their thoughts on some choice moments from the main event of Saturday’s fight card.
1st Round: Barely a minute into the first round, Taitano shoots for a takedown and takes Cali to the ground.
Cali: My coaches expected him to shoot for a takedown right away. But I’ve seen a lot of his Shooto fights on YouTube and from what I saw, I thought he would stand with me. He isn’t afraid to stand and fight. I anticipated he would fight standing so I opened up with my striking. But yeah, his gameplan, apparently, was to take it to the ground right away. It was so fast that I didn’t expect it and wasn’t able to defend against it.
Durante: We were expecting him to come out with kicks and takedowns. His camp was saying in blogs and interviews that they would fight in the standup. We didn’t believe he would. Nobody is going to fight Ale in the standup. So we trained him against kicks and takedowns.
1st Round: Taitano tries for several submission attempts, getting close to locking Cali in an arm triangle and later, a rear naked choke.
Cali: I was a little worried, but that’s normal. Once you get going on the ground and it starts to get heated, the nerves go away.
Durante: They felt Ale didn’t know anything on the ground. That’s what they think. But for the past year and a half, he’s been training ground defense. I think the underestimated Ale’s skills.
1st Round: Cali is able to get up but is taken right back down to the ground where he takes a little damage off of ground and pound.
Cali: That was his gameplan but I wasn’t thinking about that. I really thought he would fight. I felt he had some heavy hands when he was swinging. His hands are heavier than mine. But when it comes to speed, I’m faster than him. So I thought he’d fight a little in the standup so he kept catching me off-guard with the takedowns.
Durante: We weren’t that worried because we saw Ale was still looking at us for instruction while he was being choked, so we knew it wasn’t that bad.
2nd Round: The first half of the round is spent standing, with Cali doing damage and just enough with his sprawls to keep from getting taken down.
Durante: There were adjustments during the break. Usually, what we do is use the first round to study the opponent. So we kind of knew what he was doing at this point. We were expecting kicks, but he went straight for takedowns in the first so we were caught by surprise.
Cali: That, and it looked like he gave everything he had in the first round and didn’t have anything left after that. He was gassed.
2nd Round: Taitano goes to the ground and works for a triangle choke that he turns into an armbar attempt. Cali lifts him up from the ground, spins around once and slams Taitano back to the ground.
Cali: In training, my teammates do that to me all the time. The thing about armbars is we boxers aren’t easily caught on armbars because we usually have good strength in our arms. You can see when I pull him up, I was still strong enough to give him a spin first.
2nd Round: Cali gets Taitano trapped against the cage and connects with some nasty body shots that has Taitano flinching.
Cali: Yeah, I felt that it was close to the end. He was really hurting. Everything I threw was landing solidly.
Durante: From where we were standing on the sideline, you can see when a fighter is hurt. When we could see how badly Jesse was hurt, we knew that was the beginning of the end.
2nd Round: Taitano tries to take the fight back to the ground but is caught in a guillotine choke that Cali fails to finish before the round ends.
Cali: I have the ability to finish that. In the first round, I was really just surprised. But when I started to get my striking going in the second, I wasn’t so tight anymore. It felt like I was just back in the gym working out.
Durante: And that’s something we want to add to his resume in the future; a win by submission. Ale’s not really new to that. In the gym, he submits his teammates all the time. He wasn’t able to finish this time, but he showed he some skills in the second round.
3rd Round: The round begins with the crowd chanting Ale’s name repeatedly.
Cali: You could really hear the crowd from the cage! That really got my blood flowing. I felt all the fatigue leaving my body when I heard the chants.
Durante: Let me emphasize that in the previous two fights, there weren’t really a lot of people clapping for Ale. So it kind of brought tears to our eyes to hear the people chanting, even more than actually getting the belt, it was the people.
3rd Round: Cali pushes Taitano against the cage again and starts unloading big shots as Taitano covers up.
Cali: He was hurt badly. Everything I was throwing was landing on the jaw and the head, not really the body. And I could feel everything on my knuckles. The blows I was landing weren’t the open glove kind, it was really all on the knuckles and I was landing on his jaw, his nose, his ribs. If you notice, I kept looking back at the referee to stop it. I was scared for Jesse. He’s a really nice guy. He’s humble.
Durante: Yeah. We shared a van with Jesse. We waited in the lobbies together. We would eat breakfast together. He’s a good guy. So we were shouting at the referee for the stoppage because cases like that are what leads to things like brain damage or internal injuries and we didn’t want that.
3rd Round: Referee calls for stoppage.
Cali: Wow. You know, when I was throwing the last punches, I was really short on breath. But when the referee stopped it, there was a huge feeling of relief. I felt I was floating on air.
It felt so good that the crowd was cheering. And I was especially happy because I was able to back up my words. I made the fans happy. I asked the people to support me. They showed up and did their part, and I’m glad I was able to keep my side of the deal.
Durante: He’s very young right now. We want to hold onto the belt as long as we can. That’s the goal. But Ale’s got a very bright future. To be able to win the title at the young age of 21, not everybody can do that.
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