Pacific X-treme Combat could be crowning its very first Philippine-based champion at PXC 29 when Ale “The Young Gun” Cali of Davao goes after the vacant 125-lbs championship against Jesse “The Spiderman” Taitano of Guam at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
“With young Ale Cali coming up the ranks here in the Philippines in our first shows, he really impressed the crowd, he impressed the matchmakers and he showed that he deserves the chance to fight an international opponent at a high level,” said PXC general manager EJ Calvo.
The 21-year-old Cali holds a 3-1 mixed martial arts win-loss record, including 2-0 in the PXC. He dominated Guamanian Dylan Pablo through three rounds to earn a unanimous decision win in PXC 28 last November.
Cali outclassed his opponent so much that he was able to dance around the cage and throw several feints to the delight of the partisan Filipino crowd.
“Ale put on a show last November,” Calvo said. “He fought an up-and-coming fighter but a fighter that didn’t have a lot of experience. So I think what Ale did was take advantage of his lack of experience. He danced around him, boxed him and showed that he can defend the takedown.”
If Cali can do a repeat of his performance against Pablo, then the PXC will see its first champion based in the Philippines.
“He’d be the first local to win a PXC belt and we feel there’s going to be many more opportunities [for local fighters], especially at the 125 and 135 weight classes.”
Taitano, however, will be no easy task for Cali.
“Jesse Taitano is a veteran MMA fighter that did very well with a career in Japan for a short time. He came back to Guam and is well known in Guam as one of the toughest MMA fighters, pound-for-pound,” said Calvo.
Filipino-American Harris Sarmiento, who won the PXC 155-lbs. title at PXC 26 in Resorts World Manila last August, will test the waters at 145 when he fights Raja Shippen in the co-main event of the night.
“Harris wants the 145 belt,” said Calvo. “He already has the 155 belt and there’s no doubt he can hold both.”
It will be a long road for Sarmiento to claim a second title in the lighter weight class though.
The champion at 145-lbs, Guamanian fighter Baby Joe Taimanglo, is scheduled to fight at PXC 30 in March against Jang Yong Kim of Korea. Both Taimanglo and Kim hold victories over Sarmiento.
And before that, he’ll have to get past Shippen, who has some very good fighters in his corner. Shippen trains at Reign MMA in San Diego with the likes of UFC middleweights Mark Muñoz and Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
“Raja Shippen is pretty well known in the Southern Californie area as a kickboxer,” said Calvo. “What’s funny is he trains with so many Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioners at Reign MMA. You can expect him to have good ground attack, but really, where he’s made his name is in kickboxing.”
“We all know Harris Sarmiento is a pretty well-rounded fighter. We’ve seen him strike. We’ve seen him take guys down. We’ve seen him submit fighters,” he added.
“So it’s going to be interesting.”
What makes it more interesting will be the presence of Muñoz in Shippen’s corner this weekend.
“As soon as we signed Raja, he instantly asked us if we can bring out his celebrity coach,” said Calvo. “I think it’s great to have Mark as an icon for other athletes, especially being of Filipino descent. Just like Brandon Vera and other stars of the sport, I think he’ll be a great motivator for all the fighters in PXC and also for the fans.”
“Although he’s going to be a cornerman, sometimes that’s the best part of the show.”
Calvo thinks that one fight that hasn’t been talked about but fans should watch out for is a 170-lbs clash between The Ultimate Fighter season 6 alumni Dorian Price and Ryan Bigler.
“(Price) is coming out of California via Phuket, Thailand where he’s training in kickboxing. Dorian Price is nationally ranked in the US in kickboxing and making his move in MMA,” said Calvo.
Bigler is a jiu-jitsu expert that Calvo calls the toughest Guamanian the PXC has had in the 170-lbs division.
“That is a very high-level matchup at 170,” he said.
Calvo expressed his excitement for the talent pool that the PXC has assembled so far.
“We’re building a very tough 170-lbs weight class. Already, we feel we have the toughest 155-pounders, pretty much, in the area,” he said.
“If you’re going to fight in the PXC cage you better be ready. We really have some great athletes competing for us now.”
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