“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.
With Coach Mark Sangiao and Crisanto Pitpitunge
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 want to prove that I belong at that level”
I was on holiday.
At a time when I could have spent much needed rest from my day job and the loving company of friends and family I got the call that Jenel Lausa would be available for an interview in the Team Insider Gym at 2pm on a Saturday.
The MMA fan and martial artist in me would not be denied; I went ahead and proceeded to the Team Insider Gym located in Makati and was there at 1pm in my excitement.
Jenel entered the gym an hour late but it was understandable having just wrapped up a heavy session of sparring earlier in the morning. Jenel profusely apologized as he was taking his nap but this writer understood the importance of rest and recovery especially at this crucial stage of preparations for his upcoming title fight versus Crisanto Pitpitunge for the vacant PXC flyweight title.
Sizing up the man, I could not help but get a sense of quiet confidence but no hint of cockiness from Jenel as he gamely answered my questions covering a variety of topics. One can feel a sense of calm from him, as if the hardest parts are over and that he is at peace despite the outside pressure of trying to win a title against a more experienced opponent who many expect to win their matchup based on paper alone.
“I started as a boxer when I was 16 in the province, but the opportunities for income were few and far between because this was something I really wanted to do and be good at. I would fight for a 500-peso purse back then because it’s my dream to be a fighter. That’s when I decided to become a boxer and MMA fighter to follow my dream full-time and so far the rewards have been great; I am still undefeated as a boxer and in my MMA career I am fighting for the PXC title in 2 weeks. It has been nothing but a blessing for me and my family.”
On Paper, This Should Be a Bang!
As the holiday season approaches, MMA fans have secretly encircled Dec 12 (Dec 13 in MLA) as the “most wonderful time of the year” (cue Christmas music) because of UFC 194.
At this point, all of us are just praying so hard that NOBODY gets injured or pulls out as we get treated to one of if not the best MMA card on pay-per-view as we close out 2015 with a bang. Make no mistake, boys and girls, this is the most anticipated fight card of the year for very obvious reasons this limited space cannot possibly hold.
Seemingly everyone has been pulled into the appeal of the main event – the featherweight unification bout between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor – and for good reason, especially after all the drama building up the the past few months.
But there’s one fight seemingly lost in all the hoopla that could potentially steal the show, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here. Let’s break down Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold for the UFC 185-lb championship.
What this fight means for the division
Weidman and Rockhold are so good in almost every aspect of MMA yet both remain unique in how they apply their skills which sets up this perfect storm of styles and attitude. East Coast vs. West Coast. Blue-collar New Yorker vs. California surfer dude. UFC vs. Strikeforce. Checkmat vs. Serra-Longo. I can go on and on but you get the picture right?
This fight is basically about a champion who still seeks legitimacy even after convincingly defeating three of the greatest Brazilian MMA fighters in history, and a challenger who also seeks his own redemption after years of being labeled as good, but not great by fans and the media. Styles make fights, and something’s got to give. Here’s my breakdown of each fighter based on Striking, Wrestling, BJJ, Cardio, and Footwork.