Category Archives: MMA

MMA vs. Boxing

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Last Thursday, I posed a query: Is Mixed Martial Arts more brutal than boxing? Fellow sportswriter (of The Freeman) and amateur MMA fighter Lemuel Maglinte admits his bias for his sport: “MMA is safer. Though it can be seen as more violent and barbaric, MMA is three to five minutes per round, while boxing has a maximum of 12 rounds. More rounds means the more you get hit. Also, MMA is not only striking-based as it also uses grappling and, being submitted, you have a choice to tap out. In boxing, the only means of winning is to knock your opponent out or hit him as many times as you want.” Lemuel adds: “I love both sports. I am also doing boxing to complement my MMA and I know the hard work boxers put into training.”

BOXING’S DECLINE. Worldwide, the sport of boxing is on a downturn. We, in the Philippines, do not feel this; ALA Promotions dishes out events every three months while the fighting congressman from Sarangani is still active. That’s why the boxing world needed the Floyd-Manny ‘Fight of the Century.’ But can you imagine when Pacquiao retires? MMA, a fresh puppy compared to the old dog that’s boxing, is on a different upward trajectory: it’s stealing the punch off “the sweet science.”

NICK TORRES. A fan of both boxing and MMA, I interviewed Nick Torres, whom I’m known for decades (as a Class A tennis player), on why the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and MMA are so popular.

“I think it’s because MMA has wrestled the title of ‘The baddest man on the planet’ from boxing. Anyone who knows beans about martial arts knows that there is no ‘style’ of fighting, be it boxing, karate, tae kwon do, aikido, judo, capoeira, savate, etc., except ‘street fighting’ (because it employs illegal moves like groin strikes, eye gouges, bites, knives or guns if need be), could beat MMA, all things being equal.”

Nick Torres cites one man — the president of the UFC — as the main culprit for MMA’s popularity.

“The marketing moves that Dana White has orchestrated is mind-boggling and is a wonderful treat for us enthusiasts,” he said. “While we usually couldn’t care less who’s fighting in the supporting events in a boxing fight card (and hohum as we agonize through them) and we wait impatiently for the main event in boxing (which sometimes proves to be a letdown), every, and I mean, every single bout in a UFC event is great to watch.”

Dana White also makes sure that we, the fans, get to know the fighters. “Be it the UFC, UFC Fight Night, UFC On Fox, and the most entertaining of all, TUF – The Ultimate Fighter, we know the fighters; so we always have an emotional attachment to them.”

Mr. Torres singles out one other person who adds buzz and hysteria to UFC. Who is he? No, she’s a she.

“Along comes a not ‘once in a lifetime’ but ‘once ever’ (Joe Rogan’s own words) fighter in the person of the beautiful, super sexy Ronda Rousy!” said Torres. “I mean, this gal could beat half the men (if not most of them) in her weight class! Now, if that doesn’t excite you, you need to check your pulse!”

“The UFC just keeps burning brighter and brighter,” added Torres. “If it’s this popular now when the majority of spectators still don’t appreciate the intricacies of the chess match that is the ground game (grappling) and express their displeasure when the fight ends in an arm bar or reverse triangle choke ‘only,’ can you imagine where it will go when everyone becomes more informed?”

Speaking of the UFC, you must have heard the news that has gotten Pinoy fans salivating. “Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber are squaring off in MANILA (!!!) come May 16 (part of Dana’s strategy to bring the UFC to the world),” said Torres. “Ever astute, Dana has included two fighters with Filipino blood, Mark Muñoz and Phillipe Nover (he fought for the the championship in an earlier TUF).”

When I asked Tito Nick, as I call him, if he’s going, he answered, “Is water wet? Absolutely!” I laughed upon reading it. He added, “Jon (his son), Adot (son-in-law) and I got our tix on the day they opened the booth!”

Which is more brutal: Boxing or MMA?

mma_e_jung-poirier02jr_576(Ed Mulholland/ESPN.com)

If you watch the two sports on TV, you’d conclude that boxing is kinder. The boxing gloves, padded and thick, produce a softer and more cushioned impact. In boxing, only the fists are allowed to crush the enemy. In mixed-martial arts (MMA), it’s every hard-boned corner of your body that you can use to inflict pain: sharp elbows waiting to redden the face, the knee ready to attack the abdomen, the legs and feet springing in action to strike.

My wife Jasmin abhors the brutality of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). While she watches Manny Pacquiao fights (who doesn’t?) and while she doesn’t cover her eyes and grimace when boxers collide, it’s different with UFC as she runs away as if she’s allergic to me.

Blood gushing off one’s cheeks. Two men grappling on the floor like male lovers. A devastating knee to injure the ribs. More red liquid spouting out of the mouth. Open cuts near the eyelids. All these absolutely turn off Jasmin.

Thus, the conclusion: MMA is harsher, rougher and more vicious than boxing, right? Not necessarily.

Last Monday, while browsing Google News, this headline news greeted me with shock: Australian boxer dies in bout against Filipino.

Braydon Smith, previously undefeated in 12 bouts, fought John Vincent Moralde in Australia last Saturday. Their fight extended all the way to 10 rounds with the Davao City native winning via decision. At fight’s end, Smith’s face was bruised but he never showed any signs of major physical concerns. Only when he reached the locker room 90 minutes after the fight did he collapse. He was comatose for two days before he passed away last Monday.

502157-31f07624-cba5-11e4-a716-dcac481e1bbeBraydon Smith with Moralde after their bout

Shocking. Painful. Horrifying. For how can a 23-year-old leave this world so soon? This, of course, was not the first death in boxing. There have been dozens, maybe over a hundred, of similar cases before.

And so, I repeat the query: Boxing or MMA? I’m a huge fan of both combat sports, having watched dozens of ALA Promotions fights and, three times, Pacquiao himself in person; I’ve also witnessed a slew of MMA clashes (the URCC promotions — which, sadly, have been discontinued in Cebu) and, last year, the One Fighting Championship (One FC) extravaganza inside the MOA Arena. On TV, though I haven’t been much of a boxing follower (apart from our Pinoys) lately, I rarely miss a UFC telecast.

My conclusion? I always thought MMA was more brutal. It’s full contact and ruthless, employing dozens of primitive and ferocious moves. In one URCC event at the J Centre Mall a few years ago, I’ll never forget the spinning back-fist employed by one fighter; as soon as it connected to the head, the opponent fell lifeless, arms and shoulders collapsing to the floor. It was split-second fast, cruel and hurtful.

But you know what? It was that … fast. It ended quick. Like many an ending in UFC, once a fighter is down and out, the referee jumps in to stop the contest. No extra seconds of repeated pounding are added to the damage — unlike boxing.

“What’s more violent than boxing? You and I stand in front of each other for 12 rounds and my goal is to hit you so hard in the face that I knock you unconscious,” said UFC’s Dana White in an interview. “In the UFC you and I can fight and I can beat you and win and never punch you in the head once. We can go right to the ground, start grappling and pull off a submission. It’s not 25, 30 minutes of blows to the head non-stop.”

Dana White, obviously, is biased in favor of MMA over boxing. (He’s amassed his $300 million net worth from the sport.) But he has a point. As brutal as the UFC looks, the stoppage is instantaneous.

In Askmen.com, an article by Jose Espinoza tackles the same debate in his piece, “Which is more dangerous: Boxing or MMA?” He wrote: “There is a common belief that MMA is a barbaric sport. The biggest argument used to condemn it is the position that the fights are excessively violent and dangerous. It has been labeled as human cock-fighting by politicians.”

One FC is Asia’s No. 1

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MANILA — If America has UFC, Asia has One FC. If the U.S. has Dana White, Asia has Victor Cui.

It’s loud. It’s a dark coliseum brightened by swirling lights. It’s young, fanatical 25-year-olds clenching their fists. It’s brutal. It’s girls screaming. It’s blood gushing from the nostrils. It’s half-naked men climbing on top of each other.

It’s the One Fighting Championship. Last Friday — thanks to the help of Salven Lagumbay — I was lucky to be inside the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena for the One FC: Rise of Heroes. I stayed for five hours starting at 7 p.m.

First, it was girl to girl. The first fight of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event was between Jeet Toshi of India vs. our Filipina, Jujeath Nagaowa. It was lopsided. Toshi ran. Our Pinay nicknamed “Bad Girl” won. I’m not sure about the others in attendance but it wasn’t pretty. I don’t mind men attacking each other, brawling and wrestling. But with girls, I squirmed and frowned. I know, in this day of gender equality, women can do all things men can — but, for me, it’s just too vicious and ferocious, watching two bloodthirsty girls inside the cage.

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One FC is world-class. The whole organization is topnotch. With the list of competitors — 20 of them — 15 were non-Filipino. Of the five Pinoys that fought, we won all bouts.

Ana Julaton was the star. A famous WBO boxing champ, it was the first time for the California-based Pinay to do battle inside the MMA cage. The Philippine flag was draped around her shoulders as she entered the stadium. I was seated on Row 2 — with a perfect unobstructed view of the circular-shaped One FC cage. Julaton easily defeated Aya Saeid Saber of Egypt. They boxed, kicked and tumbled to the floor. Elbows were thrown to the face. With the near-capacity crowd cheering on their California-based Pinay hero, Julaton delivered a win then said to the crowd, “Love you Philippines!”

I don’t do “selfies” but when Julaton passed my way, I quickly pulled out my Samsung phone and requested for that face-to-face. We posed as I pressed the shutter. Thanks, Ana! I said. She smiled. Unluckily for me, the photo was blurred!

The most impressive showing was Leandro Ataides of Brazil, who won over Japanese Tatsuya Mizuno. These 200-lb. giants, loaded with muscles like Schwarzenegger, swung uppercuts and hooked punches.     MMA. What I like about MMA is it’s fast. It appears to be more barbaric than boxing — but it’s often not. That’s because, while in boxing a fighter can be at the receiving end of numerous blows, in MMA it’s often one knee to the chest or elbow to the body — and that’s it. Game over.

It’s wilder. As fighters enter the arena, the announcer would scream the names so loud. At the side entrance where the players emerge from the dugout, smoke machine and fireworks cloud the stage. The biggest HD screen I’ve ever seen stands at the top. Rap and hip-hop music shake the place. Everybody in the house sports a tattoo.

Take the James McSweeney – Chris Lokteff heavyweight fight. These guys are massive! While Lokteff fired several punches that could have put Sweeney to sleep, none connected. But with one perfectly-delivered knee to Lokteff’s head, McSweeney won. Painful, yes. But painfully-fast.

Eduard Folayang was the one I wanted to watch. In my first MMA watch in Cebu, he starred in an incredible performance. Then, I likened his massive legs to Veco posts. Now, it wasn’t just his legs that did the kicking. He dominated Kotetsu Boku. He’d jump to do a flying turnaround kick. He displayed multiple MMA skills. He won.

I saw Renault Lao there. The organizer of the URCC fights held every January in Cebu, I told Renault to help bring this to Cebu.

I’ll repeat what I said before: I hope the SCA rises in Cebu. If it does, we’ll be witnesses to NBA exhibition games, Beyonce concerts, Maria Sharapova-Li Na matches, and this world-class production by a remarkable man whose roots come from Cebu: Victor Cui, the CEO of One FC.

What’s SCA? It’s Seaside City Arena. We hope these two come together: SCA and One FC.

Bakbakan Na! Watching URCC 8 live

Blood gushes from the eyes. It streams down and reddens the chest. Arms are twisted and mangled. A kick flies and strikes the face. Elbows punch. Knees slam. An overhead strike bats the face.

All of these slambang action and more I witnessed last Saturday. It was the 8th edition of the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC).

If you find boxing to be gruesome, watch mixed-martial arts (MMA). It’s brutal. It’s savage. It’s boxing + kicking. It’s two shirtless men hugging and grappling. If boxing employs fists, MMA utilizes plenty more: You can choke, wrestle, do a round-house kick, knee the enemy’s stomach. It’s a complete arsenal of weaponry.

Justin Uy is the owner of J Centre. His ballroom was the venue three nights ago. It was noisy. The band Power Spoonz opened the evening with an electric-guitar screaming rendition of the Pambansang Awit. It was the first time ever I’ve heard our national anthem sung heavy metal. Remember Martin Nievera’s controversial singing years back? Ha-ha. That was for pre-schoolers; this one’s for head-bangers. “A case will be filed on them because of this!” joked my seatmate, Atty. Jingo Quijano.

URCC is loud. The ring announcer screams. The background music is not Rocky’s “Eye of the Tiger,” it’s ear-piercing noise. That’s because the crowd at MMA is much younger, wilder, more beer-drinking than those who visit the ALA Promotions contests.

There were eight fights last Saturday. Scheduled to start at 8 P.M., the fireworks began past 9. We ended way past midnight.

Sitting on ringside’s second row, we were six: Jingo and his wife, Judge Czarina Quijano; Edri Aznar, Arni Aclao, my brother Michael and me. We sat 12 feet away from the ring. It was close. Too close that we could see every stab and cut.

Impressive? Alex Abraham — named “The Pilot” because, in real life, he is a pilot — was amazing. Hailing from Seldef MMA Cebu, he needed only minutes to extinguish the enemy.

Another one was Vaughn Donayre. His family name alone, sounding like our world champ, would send shivers to opponents. He was muscular and, with an armlock maneuver, dispatched of his rival.

Jimmy Yabo, with one punch to the head, knocked-out Lorde Rey Yamit. The latter’s fall to the ground was Manny Pacquiao-like; he collapsed straight and had to be revived.

The night’s main event? Oh no. It was one of the worst endings I’ve seen in my many years of watching (mainly boxing) fights. With just seconds into the first round, Cebu’s very own Cary Bullos punched his opponent, Hideo Morikawa. The Japanese staggered for a second or two. Would you believe, the referee — Christian Wong from Manila — called the fight over. Just like that. In 59 seconds. When, moments after when Bullos attacked, the Japanese stood up fine.

The referee meant well. “The eyes of the Japanese rolled and he looked dazed. Safety first,” said Renault Lao, the event organizer. True. You’d rather err on the side of safety than have a “simba-ko-lang” tragic situation — but that ending by the referee was too fast, too soon. It could have continued. It should have.

“The Prince” (Cary Bullos) wins. I guess, given their size disparity, with the Japanese much smaller than our Cebuano, it was just a matter of time. But the ending was disappointing. It wasn’t anywhere near the “Main Event” billing.

Back to the URCC rules, you know what shocked me the most? That each round lasts 10 minutes. Yup. While boxing has three-minute rounds and the UFC has five-minute rounds, the URCC has 600 seconds. That’s tough. If you’re not in excellent shape, you can’t be “saved by the bell.” Though there are only two rounds per fight — 10 minutes of nonstop-hell is merciless.

This is what makes MMA different. It’s ruthless. It’s loud. It’s wild. It’s the new generation boxing. It’s kicking and wrestling. It’s elbows and knees. It’s the Pambansang Awit, heavy-metal style.

In today’s fight, UFC beats boxing

Jasmin hates it! Blood gushes out. Elbows strike. Bones crack. Arms strangle the neck. Faces turn tomato-red. Kicks fly and snap the jaw. Shoulders get dislocated.

For my wife – whose business, the 47-year-old Centurion Security Agency, involves guns and strong men — the UFC is all-too-bloody. What Jasmin despises the most? “When they’re on the floor, hugging each other!” she says. “Not a pretty sight… watching two men embrace!”

Ha-ha-ha. But I enjoy the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Every time it’s broadcasted on SkyCable, I get stuck. It wasn’t always this way. Though I’ve been a boxing fan ever since the days of Hagler, Leonard and Duran, when I started watching mixed martial arts (MMA) on Balls TV a few years ago, I’d cringe. It was animalistic. Barbarous. My thinking: They’re going to kill each other! Someday, sometime, someone’s going to die from this sport! But, as Balls TV showed more coverage and as I watched St-Pierre and Silva and Machida and Jon “Bones” Jones, I watched more and more.

Jones

UFC is fantastic. It’s fast. It’s not as boring as the patsy jabs and uppercuts of boxing — there are dozens of styles ranging from muay-thai to jiu-jitsu to karate. And, while I used to think that MMA was much, much more violent than boxing, the opposite may be true: because the fight gets stopped quickly, the damage caused on one’s brain, for example, (after repeated pounding) is less.

For the first time — last January in URCC Cebu 7: Bakbakan Na! — I watched an MMA fight live. It was at the CICC. In an article I wrote days after, I commented: “With its ruthlessness and savagery, it makes boxing look like a ballet recital… boxing is noisy and full of energy—but you ought to see the URCC… It’s today’s Gladiator. Heavy metal music blasts off the speakers. A live band head-bangs. Everybody.. drinks beer… the spectators… they’re younger, wilder, louder and more sadistic than the ALA Boxing audience.”

My verdict? Excluding, of course, Manny Pacquiao and our Cebuano boxers from ALA, I choose to watch UFC over boxing. There’s a major fight almost each week. Last week it was Silva vs. Bonnar; a few weeks later it’s St-Pierre inside the Octagon and, weeks after, there’s Henderson-Diaz and, next, Dos Santos – Velasquez.

UFC is easy to follow. After UFC 218, there’s 219… and so forth. There are no WBOs or WBCs or IBF or WBA. There’s no confusion. Light heavyweight champion? There’s only one: Jon Jones. Middleweight champ? Anderson Silva. Welterweight? Georges St-Pierre, the friend of Pacman who also trained under Freddie Roach.

GSP

Boxing? Too many names, too many divisions, too many champions. Don’t you get confused? (Back to that trio of Jones-Silva-St-Pierre, imagine if they all somewhat met in the middle and fought? Jones against Silva or Silva-St-Pierre… that would be the greatest fight in UFC history.)

Money. That’s another reason why UFC beats boxing. Though they’re as famous as their boxing counterparts, the UFC fighters earn only hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to the tens of millions by Mayweather, Pacman, etc. This thirst-for-money issue is why Money will not fight Manny. Mayweather is demanding $50 million plus-plus for one fight. Crazy.

With UFC, maybe because Dana White, the owner, has complete control over his fighters, he’s able to dictate who fights who. There are no I-won’t-fight-you-unless-I-earn-$20 million issues. It’s always “Bakbakan Na!”

Lastly, the undercards. In boxing, the undercards in Las Vegas world title fights are lousy. Everybody is focused on just the Main Event. Haven’t you noticed the empty seats in MGM Grand just 60 minutes before a Pacman fight? Nobody wants to watch the nobodies. Not in UFC where almost every undercard fight is thrilling.

My point: Boxing has to innovate. It’s the turntable (plaka) in the era of iTunes, the Hallmark cards in this age of Facebook; it’s Barry Manilow versus today’s Pit Bull.

URCC Cebu 7: Bakbakan na!

MMA champ Eduard Folayang with Alvin Aguilar and Renault Lao (Photo: www.urccmma.com)

If you think boxing is bloody, watch mixed martial arts (MMA). With its ruthlessness and savagery, it makes boxing look like a ballet recital.

I watched last Friday. It was my first. Sure, boxing is noisy and full of energy—but you ought to see the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC).

It’s today’s Gladiator. Heavy metal music blasts off the speakers. A live band head-bangs. Everybody—including Ironman champ Noy Jopson—drinks beer. That’s Colt 45. The ring announcer—the excellent Bo Orellaneda, formerly with Y101—screams just like Joe Rogan. And the spectators… they’re younger, wilder, louder and more sadistic than the ALA Boxing audience.

The referee? After both fighters are ready to pounce, he shouts the famous line… BAKBAKAN NA!!!!

Then, they’re off. Like two pit bulls who’ve been hungered since Christmas, they’re ready to ravish. They batter each other’s faces. The elbow is not used for protection—but as a hammer to pound on the enemy’s open face. And, once a man is down, the other would swoop like a mad dog. He’d hop on top to punch and pelt and stab.

It’s animalistic. It’s legalized street-fighting. It’s no-holds-barred. Also, quite often, it ends very fast. Take the first fight: Alde de Soza won in Round 1 via the famous “Kimura Lock.” The battle was over in a few seconds.

That’s the beauty of this sport. As brutal as we see it on UFC, it’s also ended quickly if danger is sensed. Tap-tap-tap. That’s when the opponent taps-out to signal his surrender.

As cannibalistic and lethal as this sport is, that’s what makes it safe. The quick tap-out. If one is unable to sustain the pain, the response is easy: Tap-tap-tap. As soon as the referee sees that, the fight ends.

Still, it’s bloody. It’s vicious. Yet, the crowd is as happy as I’ve seen it of any sport. It brings out the fighting instinct of the predominantly-male crowd.

The best fight at CICC that night? No contest: the Cary “The Prince” Bullos vs. Rex de Lara bout. Almost all other fights (there were a total of eight) were finished in Round One. This ended up nearly the same way. Bullos nearly lost as he was choked by de Lara. The crowd gasped. Their local favorite (from Lapu-Lapu City) was near defeat. But he persisted. In Round 2, he swiftly performed the guillotine choke.

Tap-tap-tap. Bullos resurrects and wins! The crowd screams.

The most spectacular moment? Roel Rosauro’s “put to sleep” move on Arnel Ylanan. How? With just seconds left before the first round (there are only two rounds per fight; each round has 10 minutes), he jumped, spun a 360-degree move and, with his fist in high-speed motion, he pummeled the face of the blindsided enemy. “Spinning back fist,” it’s called and, instantaneously, Ylanan fell. Game over.

The main event? As a novice, I had not heard of Eduard Folayang until last week. Well, he’s a rockstar of the sport. He’s their Paeng N.; their Bata R. He’s massive. Not only was Folayang’s upper-body well-defined and bulky, but his legs—“they’re like VECO posts,” said Jingo.

Facing him one-on-one, you’d get scared. I bet that’s how Wadson Teixeira felt when they met. Standing in front of each other, even before “Bakbakan Na!” was shouted, it was a no-contest. It ended in 56 seconds. Folayang sat atop the fallen enemy and just pounded him, peppered him, barraged him with fists and elbows until the Thailand-based Brazilian was unconscious in Mandaue.

Given his build, strength and VECO-post-like legs, I wonder how he’ll do in the US, for example, fighting the likes of Frankie Edgar or Jose Aldo. Pardon my ignorance but imagine a Baguio City fighter in Las Vegas?

Among the full capacity crowd, it was good to see Jesse Bernad, Harry Radaza, Richard Sharpe, Judge Charina Quijano, my former editor (and MMA expert and judge) Paul Taneo…

Congratulations to Renault Lao who, despite the busiest party week (he owns The Loft and Penthouse), organized URCC 7. My only complaint?

Why only one URCC event each year? Cebu salivates to see more.