MANILA, Philippines - With the persistent growth of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the Philippines, Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) chief EJ Calvo expects a bright future ahead for the local combat scene.
The country has become a hot bed of the sport since its formal introduction in 2002 with the debut of Universal Reality Combat Championship.
In addition, amateur MMA leagues have mushroomed all over the archipelago, including PXC’s Laban MMA, Underground Battle, Warriors League Championship, Hybrid Yaw-Yan’s Balikatan and the Team Lakay Championship.
Meanwhile, ONE Championship has been a regular visitor in the Philippines since 2012 as Asia’s largest MMA company formed a lucrative partnership with the SM Group of businessman Henry Sy to hold two fight cards per year at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Although the country is hooked with sports like basketball and boxing, Calvo believes that PXC opened gates of opportunity for the Philippines when the Guam-based organization saw its potential as a good MMA market in the Southeast Asian region.
“Since we arrived in the Philippines, it has been an explosion for the sport and our company in terms of the opportunities that have arrived,” he said.
PXC has hosted 15 of its last 28 events in Manila, and since its first Philippine venture in June 2011, it has been a staple of the local MMA industry, spawning homegrown talents like Crisanto Pitpitunge, Jenel Lausa, Mark Striegl, Ale Cali, Glen Ranillo and Rolando Gabriel Dy.
“A lot of the fighters are becoming household names, just expanding their career into new heights. There are tons of examples and success stories. That has been one of the most fulfilling things working with MMA in the Philippines,” Calvo stated.
Aside from generating Filipino contenders, PXC also served as the footstool for MMA competitors such as Roldan Sangcha-an, Jon Tuck, Hyun Gyu Lim, Dustin Kimura, Louis Smolka and Michinori Tanaka to be noticed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Calvo revealed that PXC is determined to produce a considerable number of top-notch fighters from the Philippines and for them to set foot on the major international stage of MMA in the future.
“We've seen it in boxing. We are not seeing it as much in basketball quite yet. But in the sport of mixed martial arts, you will see fighters at the top level of the world from the Philippines,” he said.
The Guamanian promoter says that PXC will be consistent in its mission to bolster MMA’s development in the Philippines through holding fight cards in different provinces.
“Our matchmaking team does a lot of work, hunting, researching and communicating with other rising stars. We are promoting semi-pro and amateur leagues in the provinces. When we say we cultivate the sport, it's not just words. We are out there doing the work,” Calvo shared.
PXC stages its first live event on Saturday, January 16 with two championship clashes co-headlining the affair at Solaire Resort and Casino’s Grand Ballroom in Parañaque City.
Crisanto Pitpitunge and Jenel Lausa are slated to face each other for the vacant PXC flyweight championship, while Kyle Aguon defends his bantamweight belt against Korean stalwart Kwan Ho Kwak. – Rappler.com