“The Slugger” on his humble beginnings, juggling fighting and civil service, and becoming a two-division PXC champion
Having been born in Baguio and having experienced a lot of good family memories, the City of Pines will always have a special place in my heart forever.
That’s why when the chance came to do this interview, I jumped at it like a rabbit going after a carrot; only this time it was double the fun because I was going there to not just take in the sights but to interview Crisanto “The Slugger” Pitpitunge who will co-headline PXC 51 on January 16 against Jenel Lausa for the vacant flyweight championship. (For those of you who just read this you can also catch our one-on-one interview with Jenel here.)
Team Lakay has always been considered as one of the best martial arts teams in Asia today. There has been a literal assembly line of great fighters coming from this team in both local and international competitions. Such a reputation was not built overnight and it is this level of excellence where iron sharpens iron.
Crisanto Pitpitunge exudes the same quiet, confident aura as his opponent; during our interview this writer could not help but notice his level of focus every time he answers as if his very life depended on it. It’s as if something greater is beckoning this very quiet, unassuming police officer who is a product of the Criminology program of the University of the Cordilleras where he was a consistent winner for the Wushu team.
“I had to get a scholarship because life was hard as we could not afford to pay tuition. I was able to get into the Wushu team and also started competing in local MMA fights here in Benguet and I was able to win in both sports. This paved the way for me to fight in the URCC and eventually in international promotions like the PXC.”
He was also very enthusiastic about incorporating martial arts into his line of work as a law enforcer and believes that the PNP should make this a part of the training curriculum for officers.
“I consider it important because one cannot perform his duty as a law enforcer if one is not physically fit. Martial arts allows me to perform at my best in serving the public.”
Crisanto was also very candid about balancing his MMA career with his everyday work in the PNP.
“As much as possible, I want my day job and MMA career to jive because having knowledge of martial arts is very useful in law enforcement; it allows you to subdue a criminal or perpetrator without relying on your gun in stopping that crime from happening. This is why I am of the position to have the PNP recognize and incorporate this in the physical training program for officers. The benefits will not just be in crime prevention but for overall well-being as well for the police. I try to do my part during our athletic day by leading the exercises and teaching them wrestling, specifically takedowns as this particular technique will be useful in subduing criminals.”
He was also aware of the fact that should he win on January 16 he will be the first fighter in PXC history to win titles in different weight divisions, having won the PXC bantamweight title in 2012.
“All fighters live to create records and even when I am no longer fighting that record will always be there, so I am keeping that record in mind because it pushes me to do even better and what better way than to win in this fight against Jenel. The reschedule (of this fight) from November to January allowed me more time to prepare and I feel that I am at my best.”
Crisanto played down the fact that he has opened as the heavy favorite and promised to give it his all. He also briefly touched on what happened the last time at the PXC 48 weigh-ins.
“I know that in MMA anything can happen, so I am just focused on my preparation so I can give the fans the fight they deserve. I would also like to apologize to the fans for what happened the last time [in PXC 48] because it was all a matter of bad timing with my weight cut. I am not making any excuse because as a professional it is my responsibility to make sure that I am in optimal condition come fight night. I have learned from this experience and I feel much better now compared to the last time.”
He was very straightforward about fighting a fellow Filipino for the title.
“I do not care who my opponent is; I just want to enter that cage focused on the title and bring it back to Baguio.”
Finally, Crisanto has this message for Jenel and for the MMA fans:
“To Jenel, let’s give the fans a good show and I hope you do your best because I will. To the fans, please do support our fight this January 16. It will be a great night and I hope to see you at Solaire.”
Will Pitpitunge become the first PXC two-division champion, or will Lausa spoil his idol’s parade? Saturday cannot come soon enough. See you!
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