Last Saturday, April 23, we witnessed exciting ring action as URCC 27: Rebellion exploded at the Marriot Hotel Grand Ballroom, Resorts World, Manila before a near sell-out crowd that was both appreciative of the action, and made boisterous by the beer. There was great talent, there was raw emotion, there was explosive destruction, with blood and guts spilled all over the ring, and the fans were getting into the action.
Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) has brought local mixed martial arts offerings to a new high, with online betting available for the very first time in Philippine MMA history through Tapology, a new state-of-the-art network for UFC and mixed martial arts fans. URCC, acclaimed as the first mixed martial arts promotion based in the country, has very recently returned to ABS-CBN Sports and Acton, with URCC 27: Rebellion as their maiden offering.
In the main event of the evening, Rebellion pitted URCC Featherweight Champ Reydon Romero against a rugged Korean fighter Do Gyeom Lee. Lee’s true fighting abilities were in question before he conquered top contender Drex Zamboanga in URCC 26. His convincing stoppage of the veteran Drex propelled him to the championship bout. In the exciting match that seesawed from one fighter to the other, Lee doused cold water on Philippine pride when he survived a near-knockout loss in the first round to obliterate the Filipino champion in the second.
Sensing that Reydon was dazed momentarily after a left lead to his kisser at the opening minute of the 3rd round, Lee unveiled a wicked rapid-fire striking attack, never giving Reydon a chance to recover. Lee pummeled the hapless Reydon until the referee mercifully stopped the fight to avoid serious injuries. Lee is a relentless young champion who is expected to provide more excitement and swagger to the league with his non-stop action, his good looks and great fighting personality.
In the co-main event, American veteran Will ‘The Kill’ Chope made short work of Richie ‘The Cannibal’ Redman, winning URCC’s vacant Lightweight Championship belt via a 1st round tap-out after a well-placed near naked choke. The veteran Will showed his overall mastery of the ring, copping his 20th submission in 30 career wins. Will’s seemingly awkward style lulls opponents into complacency, yet is systematic and effective. Will embodies the hard work that is not often seen in the fighters’ preparations before doing battle in the arena.
With the steady growth of mixed martial arts across the globe, more and more young fighters are turning to the full contact competition as the combat sport of choice. Undeniably, MMA has overtaken Boxing in popularity, particularly with the retirement of boxing’s premiere stars, Floyd Mayweather and our very own Manny Pacquiao. MMA’s millennial crowd base was quite evident in last Saturday’s event, clearly manifesting the new direction taken by the younger generation, and the influence of modern technology among fight fans across the globe.
MMA pay-per-view numbers today are faring far better than boxing’s best, with the exception of the last humongous Mayweather – Pacquiao extravaganza. Young MMA stars such as the notorious Conor McGregor, Ronda Roussey and Holly Holm have become more recognizable than that of boxing’s best. For that matter, Holly was a former professional boxing welterweight champ playing for peanuts before jumping to the MMA world where she found the respect, the fame, the glory and the money that eluded her in the boxing world.
This global MMA phenomenon has reached Asian – as well as Philippine – soil. MMA gyms are sprouting not just here in Manila but in other cities as well. And more and more combat sport practitioners are taking advantage of the opportunity, the adventure, and the bright future that MMA has opened for them.
Fireworks also lit up the ring with the other equally exciting matches.
For the URCC Light Heavyweight Championship: Chris Hoffman won by TKO over Caloy Baduria after Baduria quit at the 2nd round break due to an injury on his right shoulder.
For the URCC Flyweight Championship: CJ Tomas avenged his father’s loss to Hideo Morikawa 6 years ago, seizing the belt by unanimous decision in the process. In so doing, CJ becomes the youngest-ever URCC champion at 19 years old.
And in the exciting grudge match at the Flyweight division, Alvin ‘Sindikato’ Ramirez bloodied the face of the flamboyant Carlo Laurel, forcing the referee to stop the contest (RSC) in the 3rd round. There was bad blood between the two warriors, with the trash talk and the taunts almost causing them to clash prematurely during the weigh-in event prior to the bout.
For the vacant URCC Pinweight Championship, Fritz Biagtan outclassed a game and equally-dangerous Eddie Estrada to bag the crown via a 1st round RSC. Both fighters showed exceptional skills in striking and grappling, but in the end, Fritz would get the better of his worthy opponent.
In a Bantamweight bout, Drex Zamboanga, who had lost in his last outing to Do Gyeom Lee, unleashed his wrath on Dennis Domingo, finishing off the fight in the 1st round via a rear naked choke.
On the distaff side at Flyweight, Geli Bulaong forced Jen Damaso to submit via a 1st round tap out. Geli is a non-stop demolition derby who is ready to do battle with any international fighter.
Finally, in the first game of the evening, Pinweight Solomon Dultra forced Efren Marinas to a 1st round tap-out after an armbar threatened to break his arm.
URCC 27: Rebellion was a pleasant surprise for me, as it showed the extent of cross-combat talent now available in the country. URCC 27: Rebellion was shown live last Saturday on ABS-CBN Sports+Action. With the resounding success of this maiden offering, URCC founder Alvin Aguilar expressed plans to expand the league’s horizons to the other cities and provinces across the country. Expect more countries such as China, Thailand, Australia and Malaysia to join the fray as the URCC juggernaut presses on. Bakbakan na!