By Patrick Lujan
The roar of the crowd ending Saturday night’s PXC 32 exemplified the love of mixed martial arts on Guam. The same goes for the country of the Philippines as the Pacific Xtreme Combat brand has grown leaps and bounds in our neighboring country.
“We’re really happy with the results (from Saturday),” PXC President Joey Calvo said. “We’re glad a lot of fans came back out to support the fights. Some lasted longer than others, but it was a real good show and everyone gave it their all.”
The 32nd edition of the promotion ended with local MMA star Baby Joe Taimanglo winning in convincing fashion with an early first-round knockout of his top Korean opponent. It was by far the most talent-filled fight card, filling up the UOG field house once again. Attendance has been sporadic in recent local events.
“It’s been kind of up and down,” Calvo stated. “Guam’s been going through some tough times. We really need another facility to throw these events. (UOG) needs to make improvements or some one else needs to build another facility on Guam.”
PXC took a leap into the Philippines just a year ago and has seen the sport explode in interest. A country in love with boxing and basketball, the Philippines is seeing a huge interest boom in MMA. The evidence is in the television viewing and the full house at the Ynares Sports Arena in PXC 31 last month.
“I knew how UFC has grown there in the last five years and once we got TV5 as a partner, I knew it was going to grow fast and with TV5’s reach, it was going to grow big,” Calvo said.
The promotion has also added UFC fighters Mark Munoz and Brandon Vera – both of Filipino descent – as guest appearance fighters at prior PXC Manila events.
“We basically started PXC for the love of the game and just making it a Guam thing,” Calvo added. “As soon as we got into the Philippines and a bigger market, and it’s now taken off, it’s kind of overwhelming. The level of competition just goes way up. People are claiming that it’s the UFC of Asia. We’re really grass roots and we’re trying to build a good show instead of a freak show.”
Already, two Filipino fighters hold PXC belts: Ale Cali in the 125-lb. class and the newly crowned 135-lb. champ Crisanto Pitpitunge.
Sept. 1st will be the next big Manila event as Hawaii’s Harris Sarmiento defends his 155-lb. belt against Guam’s Jon Tuck while Cali makes his first title defense against fellow countryman Erwin Tagle.
PXC 34 is already on the horizon in November with a possible title bout between Pitpitunge and Guam top contender Trevin Jones, according to Calvo.
Calvo added that he hopes to put on one more show on Guam before the end of the year and that they are doing some exploratory research into the China market.
Weight Class Focus
For now, the promotion will be focusing on the lighter weight classes since it’s been difficult getting a stable of fighters above the 170-lb. class.
“All the best fighters in the region are in the lower weight classes. It’s hard to find legitimate heavyweights. Our frames (in the region) are just smaller. We’re really trying to work the 170 weight class. From 155 and below, we’re pretty solid. We’re going to look outside to Australia and Japan, so we might be featuring some new 170 pounders in November.”
As for Taimanglo, he pretty much cleaned out the 145-lb. weight class. What’s next for ‘The Juggernaut’? he’s aiming to move down to 135 and perhaps even 125.
He’s even willing to move up to 155 if things don’t go well for Tuck. “I want the belts to come back to Guam,” Taimanglo said.
Up and Coming
With the likes of Taimanglo, Tuck and Ryan Bigler as household MMA names on Guam, Calvo is looking forward to the next wave of athletes to shine bright in the sport. In particular, 21-year-old Kyle ‘Boom’ Reyes, who put on a clinic in his second-round submission win over Ronnie Borja in the last fights.
“‘Boom’ is definitely someone we’ve been watching since he was 16,” Calvo said.
The other young fighters Calvo sees as possible future contenders are Ricky Camp, Elliott Untalan, Jay Tenorio and Tyrone Jones.
As for the possibility of someone like Guam’s Joe Duarte competing in PXC, Calvo quickly said, “We would love to have Joe fight for us. If Strikeforce would let him or if he’s released, we’d love to have Joe fight.”
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