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.