Filipino-American fighter Harris Sarmiento dominated Pacific X-treme Combat (PXC) lightweight champion Ronnie ‘The Project’ Borja from the top through four rounds before sinking in an armbar for a submission win to take the 155-pound title at PXC 26 held in the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila on Saturday night.
The fight began with Borja throwing some heavy leg kicks that found their mark on the challenger. But Sarmiento would find a way to get the champion on his back and punish him with some vicious ground and pound.
Though Sarmiento delivered with some big elbows that could have stopped a lesser fighter, the freakishly resilient Borja looked unfazed as he made a handful of attempts to get a submission on Sarmiento.
But the patient 27-year-old fighter continued to wear the younger champion out before going for a failed Kimura attempt that set up the armbar in the fourth round.
“I know he’s a really tough kid. I give credit to him,” said Sarmiento. “I was trying to give him whatever I got. And he’s tough, real tough.”
Sarmiento surprised observers with his control from the top and his submission skills, as he is known to be a dangerous fighter in the standup. “For the last six, seven fights, I’ve been standing and banging with pretty much everybody,” Sarmiento said. “They knew my style, and they studied my fights. So I had to change the game plan a little, mix it up.”
The 21-year-old former champion, though, wasn’t surprised. “I expected him to be able to do everything, like take me down,” said Borja. “It’s MMA, you know. Everybody is equal.”
Borja showed the ability to take an enormous amount of damage, looking fresh despite eating some big shots from Sarmiento on the ground. But he had few answers for the experienced Sarmiento on this particular night, and eventually made the mistake that led to the tapout.
“This is the first time I’m fighting out of my hometown,” Borja said. “It’s something I have to get used to. Next time they get me out here, I hope to perform better and put on a better show.”
Earlier, Davao-based local bet Ale Cali showed impressive form in finishing Josh ‘The Hedgehog’ Alvarez in a first round TKO to improve his MMA record to 5-0. Team Lakay Wushu bet Jazor Ablasi also scored a unanimous decision over Kyle Aguon. Two other Lakay fighters on the PXC card won their bouts.
“The local guys came in and kicked (butt),” said PXC vice-president and matchmaker Eli Monge. “You guys were amazing.”
Chris Manuel of Puerto Rico also scored a big victory of his own, dominating PXC vet Eben Kaneshiro. Manuel dropped some ground and pound on Kaneshiro, including a brutal knee to the body before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Filipino-American Tristan Arenal emerged as potential challenger to the newly-crowned Sarmiento after disposing of Hwang Gyo Pyung of Korea. Arenal scored one of several first round knockouts on the card, connecting cleanly with a huge right hand that knocked the Korean out and following up with one ground strike before the referee stopped the bout.
“I want to fight for the belt (on the PXC card in December),” said Arenal. “Or not even the belt, I just want to fight. I just want to be magaling.”
PXC general manager EJ Calvo expressed enthusiasm for future PXC events in the country. “This is just our second event here in the Philippines. We’re looking to put on shows every other month in the Philippines,” said Calvo. “This is only the beginning.”
-Mikkel Bolante, InterAKTV
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