September 2, 2012

Okay, so I’ve been covering MMA.

Dunno if I’ve just been doing the music and the culture beat for too long but rolling with the sports press crops–composed mainly of the jocks, jockettes, and the popular kids back in HS–was weird, albeit interesting as hell.

Thoughts of doing an HST -type breakdown crossed my mind more than twice.
“This derby is decadent and depraved!” or “You forgot the golf shoes! Where are my fucking golf shoes?!”

But I love MMA and all that time spent downloading and dissecting UFC, PRIDE, Strikeforce and WEC fights (and playing an unhealthy amount of MMA videogames, too) armed me amply for the ONE FC: Pride of a Nation coverage series for two local sites.

When fight week came along I was doing same night deadlines like my old reportage days, tired, head all awkward, but enjoying it.

After all the long form stuff this was pretty straightforward in its newsy demands. Plus, fighting isn’t rocket science or a deconstruction of a Springsteen album.

“It’s fighting,” I remember Brock Lesnar saying. “You don’t have to make it pretty or artful.”

This is probably the jockest I CAN get, since am pretty useless with everything else under this beat–zero knowledge of the jargon and even less appreciation for your garden variety ball games and team sports.

Everything wasn’t hunky dory, though. A particularly big sit down with Arlovski got cancelled at the last minute, problems with people not being able to get their shit together at all, plus there’s the weird way sports editors cut out nearly 50% of the iambics in my pieces. But, meh. Comes with the territory, I guess.

Everything paid off on fight night, though, with the spectacle and the violence and the sheer energy. Like a rock concert fused with Roman gladiatorial theatrics.

Sitting cage-side was pretty cool, I must admit.

Since no one came with me I made friends with the local bloggers and the media from Singapore and Vietnam I found myself sitting alongside with. They were less self-congratulating and far more interesting to converse with than 98% of the local corps.

Anyway, here’s to the victors!

Below is a collection of my writings on the event in chronology from oldest to most recent.

Arlovski, Aoki, other MMA Superstars, land in Manila for One FC

KARL R. DE MESA July 19, 2012 1:32pm
When One Fighting Championship (One FC) comes to town, expect blood and spectacle, especially when you have a card that includes two former UFC champions.The press conference at the Discovery Suites, Origias, is packed, a testament to the growing popularity of mixed martial arts and fighting leagues. One FC, chaired and owned by Fil-Canadian CEO Victor Cui, is fast garnering its own devoted following. It’s been hailed as the heir to the now defunct Pride FC, a league based in Japan that was the premier Far East organization for MMA in its day.One FC 5: Pride of a Nation, is set to rock the Smart Araneta Coliseum on August 31 with former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski going up against Australian fighter Soa “The Hulk” Palilei as the main event, inside the cage.

Alongside the league debuts of former Dream champions Shinya Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes, Pinoy pride will be represented by Eric “The Natural” Kelly, who battles former UFC lightweight champ Jens Pulver, and Eduard Folayang.

Dubbed “The Landslide,” Folayang is eager and ready for his comeback. As a former URCC champ of the welterweight division and one of the rising stars of One FC, Folayang is being hailed as the number one pound for pound MMA Pinoy fighter. He is a talent that One FC is hoping to develop and elevate into surpassing even Manny Pacquiao, riding on the popularity of mixed martial arts.

“Eduard is 100 percent committed to his career and humble, almost to a fault,” said Cui.

Meanwhile, although his opponent remains undisclosed, Folayang has been busy preparing by spending intense training sessions in the Team Lakay camp of his hometown of Baguio City, located among the peaks of Benguet province, at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level.

“Nag-training ako sa Baguio sa high altitude pero nagte-training uli ako dito sa patag,” said the soft spoken Folayanag. “I’m 80 percent almost finished with training and 100 percent ready to fight!”

Read the rest HERE. 

Fernandes, Pulver, ready to ignite “One FC: Pride of a Nation” MMA event

KARL R. DE MESA August 30, 2012 12:22pm
With the August 31 fight night imminent, those about to compete in “One Fighting Championship: Pride of a Nation” at the Smart Araneta Coliseum are set to ignite what will be a mixed martial arts extravaganza.The sports press meanwhile was allowed a sneak peek at the special skills and feats that each fighter brings to the table at an open workout, Wednesday.While Gustavo Falciroli, the bantamweight champ of CFC Australia, showed remarkable power and technique, his opponent for the main event, Bibiano Fernandes, displayed truly astounding dexterity.

In training, the current DREAM Bantamweight Champion from Brazil, “The Flash” Fernandes is like watching a speed demon gearing up for combat.

“This is good heat for work out!” Fernandes declared, as he practiced his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and his striking with two different coaches. He displayed effective, aggressive takedowns done with ease, his grappling movements flowing like water. His precise way of finding openings in his enemy’s guard was terrifying to behold.

This is what a BJJ natural looks like, what makes him, as One FC CEO and owner Victor Cui exclaims in awe, “pound for pound, one of the best fighters in the world,” whose rise into MMA stardom began with him simply hanging outside a Brazilian dojo and observing fighters do submission and grappling.

“If [Falciroli] wants to go to the ground I’ll beat him and even standing up,” said Fernandes in his Portuguese-laced English. “I don’t care about what he’s going to do. I know what I’m going to do.”

Aside from DREAM, Fernandes has also competed for K-1 and King of the Cage.

Read the rest HERE.

Now I really gotta watch Pulver’s documentary!

MMA: Making weight, rivalries and out of cage issues

 Posted on 08/31/2012 5:32 PM  | Updated 08/31/2012 5:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Cutting weight is a critical aspect of a combat fighter’s life.

Just like opera singers adhere to a strict pre-performance regimen for vocal optimization, or scouts learn how to track by cutting for sign in the worst conditions, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters use varying methods to be as light as possible during the weigh-ins, and then as big and strong as possible the next day for their fight.

Whether it’s sweating it out inside a sauna for 12-hours, continually exercising to flush out excess pounds, or not drinking fluids for the whole day, it is a singularly grueling experience.

Not making weight means you don’t get to fight. Also, it is not only viewed as unprofessional, it’s taken as a clear symptom of an outstanding lack of nutritional discipline.

At the official weigh-ins of the MMA spectacle that will be One Fighting Championships’ “Pride of a Nation,” held at SMART Araneta Coliseum on the humid afternoon of August 30, fortunately, all the fighters made weight.

This event is headlined by CFC Australia’s bantamweight champ, Gustavo Falciroli, who fights against Brazilian and DREAM bantamweight champ Bibiano Fernandes. Both MMA superstars came in at 61.5 kilograms.

Challenge of dehydration

At the open workout sessions held two days previous, neither Falciroli nor Fernandes showed signs of the fatigue common to fighters trying to lose a lot of weight. Fernandes, whose moniker is “The Flash,” showcased his amazing speed and agility with ease.

“This is great heat for workout!,” Fernandes said.

The constant sweating and non-intake of fluids leads to a forced dehydration. Just enough so that you don’t go into what sports nutrition experts call “panic mode”–the body’s natural way of conserving fluids for survival. It says: we’re putting a stop to this. The effect being, no more weight loss.

Read the rest HERE.

My fight night seat in the press corps area. THIS close to the action


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