A ‘Fight For Peace’ in Manila

Last Wednesday, October 23, I was invited to witness a refreshing new spectacle that is now taking the world by storm. Featuring 24 of the best of Asia-Pacific’s mixed martial arts gladiators, ‘Fight for Peace’ was a unique 3-in-1 spectacle that presented 6 Kickboxing, 4 Muay Thai and 2 Mixed Martial Arts duels in the posh premises of the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila. This would be only the second Muay Thai and Kickboxing Championship to be hosted by Club S and World Team USA in a collaborative effort to spread the gospel of mixed martial arts in the Asia-Pacific region. The event will be televised soon on TV5 here in the Philippines and Henan TV in China, where mixed martial arts now enjoys a huge following.

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Exciting martial arts action at the posh Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World, Manila. (Photo courtesy of Derick Flores)

I asked the promoter of the event and founder of World Team USA, Tony Reyes, where the ‘Fight for Peace’ tag came from.  He said that the event would feature fighters from 9 countries, with peace among the participating countries an overarching mission. Indeed, the program would mix-and-match warriors from China, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Iran and host Philippines. And the common bond that holds these ‘painmasters’ together is an admirable thing that our international diplomats and public officials can clearly learn from. These guys are the epitome of the fierce warriors inside the ring, yet are clearly friendly and professional gentlemen outside of the fight zone.

Eleven of the 12 bouts were smash-and-bash affairs that kept the audience at the edge of their seats. We were particularly wide-eyed in the first two matches, both of which ended in 1st round knockouts. Talk about setting great precedents for the incoming bouts! Later, I was informed that Tony had promised a bonus for anyone who could come up with a KO result. No wonder the fighters were acting like wounded tigers ready to pounce on their adversaries.

Philippines' Agustin Delarmino with impressive win over China's Jin Wen Hao
Philippines’ Agustin Delarmino with impressive win over China’s Jin Wen Hao (Photo courtesy of Ed Dames)

After a wild and woolly 3rd match which went the distance, we were treated to a fight between two female fighters. This being my first time to personally see a slugfest of this nature, I was pleasantly surprised at the aggression and the passion the ladies had. I certainly wouldn’t relish tangling up with either one of those ferocious felines.

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On the distaff side, China’s Gong Yan Li is declared winner over USA’s Jade Hayes; China’s Zhang De Zheng scores over Malaysia’s Jiang Kai Chee. (Photo courtesy of Derick Flores)

But the best bout I saw for the night pitted Australian-based Pinoy, Reinhard “The Bad-ass” Badato, against Hongkong’s Bryan To Hang Lam. Built like a Sherman tank, Bryan kept wading in to find-and-fix the cat-like Bad-ass. Badato had knocked him down on the 1st round with a picture-perfect right straight. But I was  just worried about Badato’s chances of escaping the god-awful wallops that the unstoppable juggernaut, Bryan, kept fielding. A near-miss on the 4th round put the Bad-ass down, but he was quick to get back on his feet, protesting that he had simply tripped. At the end of 5 rounds of non-stop banging and booming, Bad-ass Badato was declared winner by unanimous decision.

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Fil- Aussie Reinhard ‘Bad Ass’ Badato survives countless onslaughts from a hulking Bryan To Hang Lam to win the WBC Championship Belt (Photo courtesy of Titanium Runner)

The last bout between China’s Wu Tie Yin vs Kaiwhare France of New Zealand was a textbook lesson in the grappling technique. Wu had the better position and had Kaiwhere in a serious stranglehold. But lo and behold! Kaiwhere was able to reverse the situation and won by tapout. Such are the strange reversals that happen, not just on the mat, but in life in general.

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A red-faced Kawhare France of New Zealand almost upended before he succeeds in reversing the situation for a win over China’s Wu Tie Yin. (Photo courtesy of the Titanium Runner)

The results of the 12-bout offering of ‘Fight for Peace’ are as follows:
Kickboxing:
Match 1: 75kg- Li Quiankun (China) beat Stephane Lentz (USA) KO 1st rd
Match 2: 70kg – Iman Omrani (Iran) beat Zhouyu Zhen (China) KO 1st rd
Match 3: 75kg – Liou Dacheng (China) beat Matthew Richardson (Canada) MD
Match 4: 60kg- Gong Yan Li (China) beat Jade Hayes (USA) UD
Match 5: 60kg- Li Ning (China) beat Saiful Merican (Malaysia) UD
Match 6: 65kg TJ Arcangel (USA) beat Liu Xangming (China) UD
Muay Thai
Match 7: 60kg Ryan Jakiri (Phiippines) beat Kohei Kodera (Japan) TKO 3rd rd
Match 8: 70kg Zhang Dezheng (China) beat Jian Kai Chee (Malaysia) UD
Match 9: 57kg Agustin Delarmino Jr (Philippines) beat Jin Wenhao (China) UD
For The WBC Championship Belt:
Match 10: 59kg- Reinhard “Badass” Badato (Australia) beat Bryan To Hang Lam (HK China) UD
Mixed Martial Arts
Match 11: Dennis Salazar (WTUSA) beat Arwin Lasutan (Safehouse)
Match 12: Kaiwhare France (New Zealand) beat Wu Tieyin (China) Tapout 1st rd

Mixed Martial Arts will be a sport to reckon with in the near future.  It has now reached the mainstream in China, and this was evident in the predominance of Chinese patrons among the audience at Resorts World. With exciting matches and aggressive marketing, it is very likely to see the sport grow here in the Philippines. Already, gyms are sprouting in Manila, Baguio and Cebu. With the wealth of talents in Mindanao, I foresee a promising future for mixed martial arts in Davao and Mindanao as a whole.

Anyone interested in setting up a mixed martial arts facility in Davao, please contact me at cbholganza@yahoo.com.

(Photos courtesy of john derick flores, wheninmanila.com, enrico caramay, jimmy ong, titanium runner, ed dames)

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