‘URCC: XXX’ photos: Kiko Matos vs Billy Jack Sanchez

“URCC: XXX” took place on Aug. 12, Saturday, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Metro Manila. Among the winners of the MMA event was Filipino-Portuguese fighter Kiko “Badass” Matos, who defeated Billy Jack “The Ruler” Sanchez via rear-naked choke submission.

Here are some photos of Matos and Sanchez taken during the “URCC: XXX” fight night:

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Billy Jack Sanchez

Billy Jack Sanchez

Billy Jack Sanchez

Billy Jack Sanchez

Billy Jack Sanchez

Billy Jack Sanchez

URCC round girl

URCC round girl

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos, Billy Jack Sanchez

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Kiko Matos

Watch a post-fight interview with Matos, in which he calls out Polo Ravales, here:

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Australia-born Reece McLaren aims to personify Filipino warrior’s heart in cage return

Reece McLaren

Reece McLaren

“Who is Reece McLaren?” That was the question of the night during the ONE: SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS fight week in December 2015 when he surfaced as Jordan Lucas’s late replacement to face Filipino-American sensation Mark “Mugen” Striegl.

Striegl was supposed to have an easy night against a relatively-unknown Australian martial artist entering a high-profile bout on eight days notice, but McLaren begged to disagree and educated everyone about who he is and what he is capable of.

McLaren pulled off a major upset in his promotional debut by submitting Striegl with a rear-naked choke in the aforementioned event’s co-headliner.

Showcasing his never-say-die attitude, McLaren overcame a series of takedowns and a second-round knockdown against the highly-favored Striegl, but he methodically chipped away with stinging leg kicks.

As his counterpart appeared to lose steam in the final frame, McLaren countered a weary takedown attempt with solid elbows before he advanced to Striegl’s back to latch on the bout-ending choke at the 3:33 mark of the third round.

After his impressive conquest of Striegl, the thousands inside the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena were instantly introduced to the name of Reece “Lighting” McLaren.

However, what actually shocked an additional number of Pinoy fans was the fact that he also had Filipino heritage like Striegl.

The 25-year-old native of Gold Coast, Queensland revealed that his father, whom he never met while growing up, was Filipino.

Even without the formal orientation to the culture of his father’s country, McLaren admitted that he always feels the sense of pride about his Filipino lineage.

“My father is actually Filipino. However, I have never met him and never grew up with any Filipino culture. But I have always told people that I am half-Filipino. You can say that I’m proud to be Pinoy,” he said.

Although ONE Championship gave him minimal time to prepare for Striegl, McLaren accepted the challenge because this was his chance to set foot on Philippine soil.

“I had always wanted to come to the Philippines and Manila being the capital city. It was a chance I had to take,” he recalled.

McLaren described his grueling encounter with Striegl as hitting two birds with one stone as it likewise raised his stock as a prizefighter.

“I felt like this was my opportunity to get myself on the world stage. I also knew it would be my chance to get noticed. Mark is a very followed fighter with a massive fan-base,” he said.

Being made public that he is half-Filipino, McLaren considers it as an achievement on his part as he has been the Pinoy youngster on his locale’s block.

“I think it’s great. Growing up, I’ve been called it all the time. I was pushed down in the dirt many times, so getting recognition for being who I am was nice. I’m a proud Filipino kid,” he stated.

McLaren made two trips to the Philippines in 2016, defeating Tajik prospect Muin Gafurov by way of unanimous decision in April before locking horns with Brazilian legend Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for the coveted ONE Bantamweight World Championship eight months later.

On the back of four consecutive victories, McLaren entered the biggest match of his professional career as he squared off with Fernandes inside the ONE Championship cage.

McLaren believed that he did enough to become the new champion after five rounds of battle as he tested Fernandes like no one else in ONE Championship had done before, but it was not meant to be as he lost a narrow split decision to the reigning bantamweight kingpin.

“I did not do enough, I guess,” McLaren lamented with eight months removed from the fateful decision.

Known by the moniker “Lightning” due to his swift submission triumphs, McLaren has been patiently waiting for another chance ever since, yearning for another opportunity to showcase his elite abilities.

McLaren sees a big reward if he plays his cards right against Kevin Belingon as both men are set to collide on the undercard of ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, 18 August.

While Belingon also yielded to Fernandes in January 2016, the Filipino knockout artist has recovered strongly by outpointing Muin Gafurov in October 2016 and then thwarting Toni “Dynamite” Tauru this past April.

Both Belingon and McLaren desperately want a rematch against Fernandes, and the latter stressed that the winner of this highly-anticipated bantamweight contest should be next in line for the gold-plated strap.

“He (Belingon) looks like he has good balance and good takedown defense on the cage. His stand-up striking is obviously phenomenal. We are the only two that have defeated the other bantamweights in the top five. We definitely deserve another title shot,” McLaren acknowledged.

McLaren may assume the underdog role yet again versus a celebrated Filipino martial arts superstar, but if he once more proves his mettle and overcomes Belingon, then “Lightning” could very well get the championship rematch that he has been longing for.

“Hopefully, the outcome of this bout will go to my favor, and we can do the rematch later. I would love a quick turnaround. I am ready. Let’s keep it going,” he emphasized.

The 5-foot-6 submission specialist stressed that his back has always been against the wall in most of his matches, but he managed to rise to the occasion.

“I’ve been the underdog most of my career. When we took the fight with Mark (Striegl), I was there to win. I didn’t take the fight just to fill in. I’m no pincushion,” McLaren shared.

McLaren seeks to follow in the path of the tradition of Philippine combat competitors who exemplified the true spirit of a warrior inside the cage.

“I have tremendous respect for all Filipino warriors. I tip my hat off to them. I am proud to say that I have the same warrior spirit in my blood because I am half-Filipino. In my upcoming bout, I am looking to personify that trait,” he ended.

​​For more updates on ONE Championship, please visit www.onefc.com, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ONEChampionship, and like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ONEChampionship.
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7 Davao Aguilas FC players proud to represent Philippines at 29th Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Davao Aguilas FC players, proud representatives of the Philippines at the upcoming SEA Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Davao Aguilas FC players, proud representatives of the Philippines at the upcoming SEA Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

12 AUGUST 2017 – MANILA: Seven Davao Aguilas FC (DAFC) players, who are  part of the U22 Philippine men’s football team, are proud representatives of the country at the 29th South East Asian (SEA) Games, set to begin next week, with their first match taking place on August 15, against Cambodia, at the Selayang Municipal Council Stadium.

The 7 Davao Aguilas players are as follows:

1.    BAUTISTA, Junell Mark
2.    CHENG, Jaime Vicenzo
3.    CUBON, Raymart
4.   DE BRUYCKER, Dylan Alain Lucienne
5.    DIAZ, Van Rey
6.    JARVIS, Jordan Blair
7.    TALAROC, Richard Jr.

Coach Gary Phillips of DAFC says, “Very exciting times for Davao Aguilas FC, we have 7 representatives, that’s wonderful for our club.  Obviously, we wish them all the best, we are confident that they will do well and represent Philippine football in a good way, and they are quality players, quality individuals.  We are very excited for them and I’m sure they will do us proud.”

In preparation for the SEA Games, a football camp was also held in Japan, in cooperation with Japan Football Association.

The rest of the Davao Aguilas FC (DAFC) will also be in KL, Malaysia, not only to support the U22 members of the club, but also for a training camp which will prepare them for the resumption of their PFL matches, set to resume on September 9, at Tagum City, Davao del Norte, in a match that will pit them against Global Cebu FC.

For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/DAFCofficial.

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Kiko Matos calls out Polo Ravales after beating Billy Jack Sanchez at ‘URCC: XXX’

Kiko Matos, Conan Altatis

Kiko Matos, Conan Altatis

Kiko “Badass” Matos defeated Billy Jack “The Ruler” Sanchez via rear-naked choke at 2:50 of Round 1 at “URCC: XXX” on Aug. 12, Saturday, at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Metro Manila. This marks Matos’s first URCC win and his first win as an MMA fighter.

“URCC: XXX” also marks Sanchez’s first fight in the cage and first MMA loss. As for Matos, this is not the first time he fought in the URCC cage.

In 2016, Matos and Baron Geisler both made their URCC debut. Their fight ended in a draw after two rounds.

Kiko Matos, Conan Altatis

Kiko Matos, Conan Altatis

Sanchez became known to the Filipino MMA community after a video of himself calling out Matos and Geisler went viral. When URCC contacted Sanchez, he left his job in Qatar and accepted the offer to fight Matos.

In a post-fight interview at “URCC: XXX,” Matos thanked the Lord for giving him the strength, the patience and the right mindset. He also thanked his family, particularly his mother and his girlfriend Maria Martinez, who watched the fight at the Araneta Coliseum.

“After the bashing, after… after the trash talking, it’s all done for me,” Matos said referring to his feud with Sanchez. The actor-MMA fighter added that he made Sanchez’s nose bleed and made him tap out during their fight in the cage so he no longer needed to prove anything.

On July 25, Matos and Sanchez met for the first time at the “URCC: XXX” press conference at Winford Hotel and Casino in Manila. During the conference, I learned from URCC founder and CEO Alvin Aguilar that a celebrity was supposed to fight Matos but backed out.

Aguilar did not mention the name of the celebrity then. But during my post-fight interview with Matos, he revealed that his original “URCC: XXX” opponent was his fellow actor Polo Ravales, who was at the VIP area during the fight night.

“Polo Ravales, I’m calling you out,” Matos said. “Fight me!”

Watch the post-fight interview with Matos here:

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Baguio-based MMA star Mark ‘Mugen’ Striegl gets third URCC win

Mark Striegl

Mark Striegl

Mark “Mugen” Striegl, 29, fought his third URCC bout on Aug. 12, Saturday, at “URCC: XXX” at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Metro Manila. He defeated Andrew Benibe, 41, via scarf hold armlock submission at 0:53 of Round 1.

It was a successful URCC comeback for Striegl as he had not fought under the promotion for more than five years before his fight against Benibe. The Filipino-American MMA star made his URCC debut on Feb. 11, 2011 at “URCC Baguio 3: Invasion” in Baguio City where he defeated Team Lakay fighter Crisanto Pitpitunge via rear-naked choke submission.

“URCC Baguio 3: Invasion” was also Striegl’s first MMA fight in the Philippines. His fight in Baguio City led to his decision to move to the city. He currently teaches Physical Education in a school there called Christian Legacy Academy.

On April 28, 2012, Striegl fought his second URCC fight at “URCC 21: Warpath” in Pasay City. Like Pitpitunge, Alcer Locada lost to Striegl via rear-naked choke submission.

Striegl’s debut as a professional MMA fighter took place at Star Light Bowl at Balboa Park in San Diego, California, on July 25, 2009. He defeated American fighter Andy Jewett at “TC 34: Total Combat 34” also via rear-naked choke submission.

Following his successful professional MMA debut, Striegl fought in Luxy Contemporary Nightlife Complex, a nightclub in Taipei, Taiwan. He defeated South Korean fighter Bae Yong Kwon via unanimous decision at “PRO Fighting 4: 180.”

Before “URCC: XXX,” Striegl’s most recent fight was on Dec. 2, 2016 at “ONE Championship: Age of Domination” where he defeated Sotir Kichukov via unanimous decision. On the other hand, Benibe’s most recent fight before losing to Striegl was on Jan. 28 at “URCC: BETS- Battle Extreme Tournament Superstars” where he lost to Rahul K. Raju via unanimous decision.

After defeating Benibe, Striegl now holds 16 wins and 2 losses. Benibe, on the other hand, now has 6 wins and 10 losses.

Other winners at “URCC: XXX” include Chris Hofmann, Do Gyeom Lee, Derrick Easterling, John Adajar and Kiko Matos. Here is a video featuring the Striegl and Benibe at the press conference:

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Mark Striegl’s ‘URCC: XXX’ opponent Andrew Benibe: I’ve prepared for him

Mark Striegl

Mark Striegl

MMA fighter Andrew Benibe has been fighting professionally for almost 12 years. Three years ago, he was supposed to battle it out with Mark Striegl but the bout did not materialize.

This is why Benibe was happy when he was told that he will be in the fight card of “URCC: XXX” and his opponent will be Striegl. Their match will be one of the 10 fights of the MMA event scheduled on Aug. 12, Saturday, at 7 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

During the weigh-ins on Aug. 11, Friday, Striegl weighed 150 lbs while Benibe weighed 141 lbs. After the weigh-ins, I sat down with Benibe for a short interview.

I asked Benibe about his thoughts on Striegl’s strengths and weaknesses as a fighter. Benibe did not hesitate to point out that Striegl’s main strength is wrestling. On the other hand, Benibe said his own strength is striking, which he will utilize it in the cage for him to win.

Before this, Benibe said that he has prepared for the fight with Striegl. The former pointed out that before he retires, it is good to fight one of the MMA superstars of Southeast Asia.

To end the short interview, I asked Benibe to give a message to Striegl and to MMA fans. To Striegl, Benibe laughingly said, “No trash talk. It’s not my thing. It’s not my style to trash talk. But let’s just get it on tomorrow.”

“And for everyone, please support Philippine MMA, URCC,” Benibe continued. “See you tomorrow, Araneta Coliseum, August 12. Bakbakan na!”

I also learned during the interview that Benibe does not have a fight name and it was his choice not to have one. On the other hand, his “URCC: XXX” opponent’s fight name is Mugen, the Japanese word for limitless.

“URCC: XXX” will be headlined by Chris Hofmann and Robert Sothmann with the Jiar Castillo-Derrich Easterling match as the co-event. Also, there will be two title fights, which are the Jojo Orao-Do Gyeom Lee and Solomon Ultra-Fritz Biagtan matches.

Watch my interview with Benibe here:

Here are some photos taken during the “URCC: XXX” weigh-ins:

Andrew Benibe

Andrew Benibe

Mark Striegl

Mark Striegl

Mark Striegl

Mark Striegl

 

 

Don’t forget to comment below:

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Eric Kelly delighted over younger brother Edward’s winning roll in ONE Championship

Edward Kelly

Edward Kelly

As Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly continues his marvelous rise in ONE Championship’s stacked featherweight division, renowned Filipino martial arts veteran Eric “The Natural” Kelly can’t help but feel impressed with his younger brother’s winning streak in Asia’s largest sports media property.

Edward scored three huge victories inside the ONE Championship cage last year, starting his 2016 campaign by pulling off a come-from-behind submission win over previously-unbeaten Australian stalwart Jordan Lucas in March before achieving a second-round knockout of Dutch-Indonesian journeyman Vincent Latoel five months later.

The 33-year-old Baguio City native punctuated his 2016 calendar on a high note by stopping Indonesian standout Sunoto by way of third-round technical knockout in December.

Eric, who is only two years older than Edward, stressed that he is proud of his brother’s recent accomplishments under the ONE Championship banner, citing the latter’s ability to overcome adversity and his determination to develop as a competitor in the constantly-evolving sport.

Prior to his victory parade in ONE Championship, Edward had a jagged beginning in the promotion, losing to Brazilian contender Herbert “The Blaze” Burns by way of 44-second submission in December 2013 and then suffering a first-round knockout defeat to Malaysian-Kiwi sensation Ev Ting in October 2014.

Although Edward bounced back by submitting compatriot Jimmy Yabo in April 2015, he yielded to hard-hitting Australian stalwart Martin Nguyen via doctor stoppage seven months later.

Edward erased the harsh memories of his painful setbacks by defeating three high-profile opponents in 2016.

“I am so proud of him. It’s impressive because despite the losses, he was able to improve and bounce back with three big wins. I am happy that he is reaping the fruits of his labor,” Eric said of Edward.

However, the two brothers find themselves in a very different scenario as Eric is currently reeling from a three-match losing skid, bowing down to Ting via third-round submission in January 2016 before falling to Mongolian kickboxer Jadambaa Narantungalag via 44-second knockout in July 2016.

Eric’s quest to reinsert his name into the winner’s column was spoiled by Japanese legend Kotetsu “No Face” Boku last August 5 when the former ONE Lightweight World Champion scored a third-round stoppage triumph against the celebrated Filipino combatant.

Even though Eric is on a downward spiral, he is not turning his back on the sport that catapulted him to stardom.

“I really feel disappointed with what happened. I was really prepared for my bout against Kotetsu Boku, but there are things that it’s beyond our control. I am fine and no harm done. But I cannot deny that I am disappointed. I have to accept the outcome. It is a hard lesson for me, but I will be back as an improved and better fighter,” he guaranteed.

Eric, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented products of the established Philippine martial arts scene, sees a bright future ahead of Edward and does not mind losing the spotlight to his younger brother as both of them compete in ONE Championship’s 70.3-kilogram weight class.

“I see a bright future in his professional martial arts career. Edward should keep on striving. It’s his moment,” he shared.

According to Eric, Edward’s latest success in ONE Championship adds fire to his desire to place himself back on the winning track

“His wins in ONE Championship motivate me. It keeps me motivated and aware that I have to seriously focus on my improvement as a competitor inside that cage,” he stated

“Right now, I need some little time for myself and think about what happened, but it won’t be long because I want to get back inside the cage and redeem myself. I won’t throw in the towel that easy. I have to go back to the drawing board and address the problem. There are still a lot left in me,” Eric added.

After eight months of waiting for a call to compete again, Edward returns to action as he is set to duke it out with promotion newcomer Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia of the United States on the undercard of ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 18 August.

Eric is confident that Edward will have his hand raised against Urrutia, who won two-straight matches in 2016.

“You can see Edward’s improvement every time he steps inside the cage. He always brings in something new. I am super confident that he will walk out victorious,” he ended.

 

​For more updates on ONE Championship, please visit www.onefc.com, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ONEChampionship, and like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ONEChampionship.
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