Team Encore is Slowly Gaining Mat Notoriety
When you come from an established team, building a new one from scratch can be a tall order. But Coach Joshua Abella is hopeful that Encore will pick up and reach the same level of success as his previous group.
I arrived at this relatively new gym before 7 on a Sunday morning. Apart from the receptionist, the only person I saw was a guy, perhaps in his early thirties, mopping the canvas. I was almost positive it was Michaelo “Mike” Sumulong, one of the owners.
Then the students started coming in. Looking around, I noticed that none of them were elite fighters. In fact, some of the guys started their martial arts journey right here, as I would learn later from their coach, two-stripe Fabricio purple belt, Joshua “Josh” Abella.
This is a stark contrast from the previous gyms we have featured where hardened fighters enter the premises day in and day out. Here, I see men who train almost as hard as they work for their families, and are willing to test their skills in competition. Yet their coach, himself an active jiu-jitsu competitor, encourages them to focus on improving without thinking too much of competing.
Cowboy’s Visit is One of MMA Philippines’ Favorite Fighter Tours Thus Far!
It’s been almost a week since Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone visited the Philippines for UFC and Cignal’s fighter tour. We took our sweet time post-processing the event photos, and finally here is MMA Philippines’ breakdown of the nation’s experience with the busiest, winningest fighter in the UFC!
Cerrone didn’t have time to put up his legs after arriving on Friday as he went straight to the press conference held at Marco Polo Ortigas in the evening. Members of the press had first dibs in asking Cowboy questions, which the WEC and UFC veteran was more than game to answer. Here are some of the topics touched during the press scrum:
1) Cerrone views his UFC career as a means to finance his vicious appetite for extreme sports, so don’t expect him to give up skydiving during training camp!
Team Lakay Proves They’re Still on Top of Their Game
Last year was devastating for Filipino MMA fans as Team Lakay’s leader Eduard ‘Landslide’ Folayang lost his ONE lightweight strap to heavy-handed Martin Nguyen. Coming out of ONE: Global Superheroes, however, Team Lakay showed us that Folayang’s reign was just the tip of the iceberg.
Inheriting the top spot as the face of Team Lakay is Geje ‘Gravity’ Eustaquio, who opened 2018 with a pleasant gift for the Filipino fight nation – the ONE interim flyweight championship.
January 26 was indeed a sweet night for Eustaquio. He snagged the gold after taking the unanimous decision victory over Kairat Akhmetov – a man who, in many people’s opinion, stole one from Eustaquio the last time they met inside the cage in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In that fight, Eustaquio seemingly had Akhmetov beat when the Kazakh was stunned by a series of up kicks. But the fight was inexplicably paused by referee Yuji Shimada, which allowed Akhmetov to recover and escape with a narrow split-decision victory.
During the rematch, Eustaquio made sure to hurt Akhmetov even more by cancelling his date with his long-time rival and current champion, Adriano Moraes.
Eustaquio’s key to victory was his grappling defense. Ironically, ‘Gravity’ needed to avoid getting pulled down by gravity to overcome his opponent. Akhmetov proved once again that he is the superior wrestler as he successfully completed three takedowns. Eustaquio, however, did not allow the Kazakh to inflict damage once the fight shifted to the ground.
After five grueling rounds, Eustquio claimed the right to be called a world champion and be hailed as Team Lakay’s new franchise guy. If we will pay close attention, however, Team Lakay is not defined by franchise guys and breakout stars. They are defined by their culture of winning and excellence.