Mixed martial arts (MMA) in the Philippines is on the rise, thanks largely to the increasing popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which has spurred a number of sanctioned bouts in the country.
Fight clubs and training camps in Manila and major cities have been coming out of the woodwork in the past years. Support has also been increasing among local training camps as they seek out “warriors” who have what it takes to fight well and fight hard. So far, dozens of young men (and women) have entered this extreme sport and are already making their mark in both the local and international scenes.
Most MMA competitions pit local fighters and only a few international fights have been held to get Filipino MMA fighters to compete against foreign combatants. However, these international bouts are limited to a specific fight style, such as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai.
There hasn't been any real, regularly held, international competition that had fighters from different styles going head-to-head with other MMA fighters. Consequently, the network of fighters is still limited largely because it is still a small, local community where coaches and fighters from various training camps know each other during local bouts.
This all changed in 2010 when the Pacific X-Treme Combat (PXC) chose the Philippines to hold its first foreign fight. PXC 24, held at the Resorts World Manila Newport Performing Arts Theatre in Manila, would mark the first time that a regular international combat event would be held in the Philippines where Filipinos will be pitted against foreign fighters.
The PXC essentially provides Filipino MMA fighters an opportunity to improve their styles as they face off against other fighters.
The PXC was started by Guam's Calvo family in 2004 as part of its entertainment and news production subsidiary Tropical Productions, Inc. Since its first event in the Philippines, PXC has organized three more fights in Manila; PXC 26 in Resorts World in August 20 last year, PXC 28 in November, and PXC 29 in February 2012.
The last two fights were held at the Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City. PXC 31, the fifth fight, will be held again at the Ynares Sports Arena on July 14 this year.
PXC also prides itself for having been successful in bringing MMA to the Philippines. Since PXC 24, viewership consistently grew in MegaTAM (Mega Manila TV Audience Measurement) and NuTAM (National Urban TV Audience Measurement) based on measurements from AGB-Nielsen. It showed that TV viewership in Mega Manila grew from just 127,967 during PXC 24 to 291,983 during PXC 26. By PXC 29 in February 2012 viewership grew to 356,395, nearly three times than what it was in June 2011.
It is expected that the upcoming PXC 31 will draw an even bigger crowd as more Filipino fighters join in. Among those in the fight card are Jerry Legaspi, Glen Ranillo, Troy Bantiag, Joseph Mercado, Richie Redman, Rex Wa-O, among others.
Crisanto Pitpitunge will face Guam's Justin Cruz for the PXC bantamweight title.
Edward “EJ” Calvo, General Manager and Promoter for PXC, says that the PXC has been successful in driving more Filipino to bring themselves to a higher level of challenges by fighting foreign combatants. In the last five events, attention is being brought to Filipino fighters such as Ale “The Young Gun” Cali, Baby Joe “The Juggernaut” Taimanglo, Justin “The Shocker” Cruz, Harris “The Hitman” Sarmiento, among others.
Calvo stressed that one of the key successes of these winning Filipino fighters is that they were able to improve their fight skills by facing the best from other countries. He said that this is essential to raise the bar for Filipino fighters if they aim to go for international events, including the UFC.
“It does not help to fight just locally because you're only training against people of your level. By taking your fight against a perceived better fighter, you're able to learn better and train better. That's what we at PXC are aiming to build in the Philippines; better MMA fighters worthy of international attention,” Calvo said.
Calvo said that with the continued support of the Filipino audience, there would be more excitement coming from the PXC. “We see this as a huge leap for the MMA community and fan base in the country.”