MANILA, Philippines - Local boy Ale Cali showed anew his flair for the unconventional, relying mostly on his boxing skills in the dangerous sport of mixed martial arts to subdue his opponent in the Pacific X-treme Combat ring.
He made no exception Saturday night after he lightning-punched his way to a knockout victory over a seasoned fighter in Fil-Guamanian Jesse Taitano to wrest the vacant flyweight title and become the first homegrown to do so at PXC 29 before a delighted crowd at the packed Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The 21-year-old Davao City pug achieved the feat only on his third fight at the PXC, which has some of the fights being aired on AKTV on IBC 13, and fifth overall in MMA where he now currently holds a 4-1 (win-loss) record.
“This one’s for you my countrymen, I’m dedicating this victory to all of you and our country,” said an emotional Cali in Filipino right after knocking the sense out of Taitano, who fell to a 7-9-2 (win-loss-draw) record, midway through the third and final round.
And he did that using purely his boxing skills he honed through some pro and amateur fights and some pedestrian, catch-me-if-you-can takedown defense.
“I was trying to conserve my energy and also trying to test him in the first round,” said Cali, a self-confessed Roy Jones fan. “So when I finally got to see that he’s a better fighter on the ground, I decided to just beat him by my boxing.”
It looked like Taitano, whose grandfather hails from Manila, was on his way to ending Cali’s Cinderella-like run in MMA after the former nearly got the latter into submission with some guillotine choke and kimura attempts.
But with perseverance, Cali managed to get himself out of trouble to barely escape the first round and then Cali took the fight where he is strong and unloaded some lightning-quick punches starting in the second round to hurt Taitano, who fell several times.
The end came for Taitano in the third round when another flurry of punches forced the referee to stop the contest, sending Cali and the prdeominantly Filipino fans into pandemonium.
Fil-Am Harris Sarmiento, the reigning 155-pound champion, downed American Raja Shippen, who was trained by fast-rising Ultimate Fighting Championship star Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz, to get himself slowly back to a possible rematch with nemesis Baby Joe Taimanglo.
Hoping to accomplish the same feat achieved by Cali, Crisanto Pitpitunge of Team Lakay overpowered Gracie Jiu-jitsu practicioner Victor Galdon to forge a title shot at the 135-pound crown currently held by Justin Cruz.
Guam’s Ryan Biggler, a football star back home, came through with a swift, emphatic win over Dorian Price while American Ryan Boughton leaned on his submission skills to decision a bigger Ilima Maiava of Hawaii to get themselves in title contention in their respective divisions.
Other PXC 29 winners were Spike 22’s Jay Tenorio over Carlo Astudillo, Team Lakay’s Troy Bantiag over Michael Regalado, Glen Ranillo over Jerry Legaspi and Submission Sports’ Eugene Toquero over Ricky Lucena.
PXC29 notes: Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz got a loud cheer from his fast growing MMA fan base here in the Phl and was seen signing autographs and posing for pictures during and and in between fights...Munoz, of course, was there to be in the corner of his student Raja Shippen, who eventually lost to a more seasoned Fil-Am Harris Sarmiento in the co-main event...Some sports personalities were on hand to watch the fights including Smart Gilas’ naturalized player and now Air21 import Marcus Douthit and his lovely wife and Azkals Jason Sabio and Anton del Rosario with their girlfriends.