“Sabi ko nung nagsa-start palang ako, ‘…pag nasa 20’s na ako, nasa UFC na ako.’”
URCC 27: Rebellion, the URCC’s first event in partnership with Resorts World Manila and ABS-CBN Sports + Action, did not disappoint.
Five new champions were crowned. Only one of the nine bouts went the distance; five ended in the very first round. And the one that went to the scorecards was a clean sweep.
As is every fight fan’s bad habit when watching local MMA fights, we ask: Who has what it takes to compete at the highest level?
While all winners (and most losers) impressed, being the hard grader that I am, one fighter from URCC Rebellion readily comes to mind: CJ “Golden Boy” De Tomas.
De Tomas out-struck and out-wrestled former URCC flyweight champion Hideo Morikawa to become the victor via unanimous decision.
For those who watched, there’s no denying that this 19-year-old is advanced in years when it comes to the fight game. “Five years old palang ako nag-boxing na ako,” De Tomas told us of his fighting roots in our pre-fight interview. “Eight years old, nagsimula nang mag-Muay Thai. Tapos nag-BJJ ako sa KMA Fabricio; blue belt na po ako under Coach Stephen Kamphuis. Nag-national team din po ako ng wrestling.”
Arguably, his wrestling pedigree shined the brightest in his fight with “Death From Tokyo” as he emphatically slammed the former champion, again and again, across five rounds. But, what makes me believe that CJ has what it takes is his anatomical features. His is reminiscent of one Jon “Bones” Jones.
In the very first round, after he got Morikawa down and he was on his feet, Morikawa was pushing him off when ‘Golden Boy’ landed a strike on his downed opponent – while he was still standing on top of him. “The guy has an insane reach!” I thought to myself as I observed him for the rest of the rounds. With a short torso and long appendages, at 129 lbs most of his weight is allocated to areas of his body that has the potential to inflict damage on his opponents. It’s weight efficiency at its finest.
Having trained under a who’s who in Philippine martial arts including Rennie Ross (Yawyan Kampilan), Erwin Marinas (Wrestling Association of the Philippines), and Stephen Kamphuis (Kamphuis-Fabricio Jiu-Jitsu), this 19-year-old has a long way to go as long as he keeps his feet on the ground and continues the work ethic that led him to become the youngest MMA champion in Asia. “Sabi ko nung nagsa-start palang ako, ‘Kailangan pag 18 years old ako, champ na ako, at pag nasa 20’s na ako, nasa UFC na ako,’” De Tomas told us then. In all probability, it’s only a matter of time.