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Mixed Martial Arts

Gina Iniong sees rematch with Mei Yamaguchi as gateway to world title shot



Gina “Conviction” Iniong has been a professional martial artist for the greater part of the last seven years, as the six-time Philippines national Wushu champion’s extensive experience has brought her from the boxing ring to the Muay Thai circuit and eventually to the ONE Championship cage, where she has chosen to pursue her dreams of becoming a world champion.

Soft-spoken and generally reserved, Iniong admitted that it has been difficult adjusting to the spotlight.

While the biggest stars relish their time in front of the cameras, Iniong prefers to do her talking on the battlefield.

“Although I have been in this game long, I am still very shy. I do not think I will ever get used to talking to a large group of people. Speaking my mind and sharing my thoughts is a lot scarier than being inside that cage, that is for sure. It is better to let my fists do the talking,” she said.

Ever since she directed her career path to ONE Championship, Iniong has let her actions speak louder than her words, as she looked absolutely dominant on the global stage.

The 28-year-old Team Lakay product battered Natalie Gonzales Hill en route to a unanimous decision this past April.

In front of a hometown crowd last November 10 at ONE: Legends of the World, Iniong extended her winning streak inside the ONE Championship cage to two matches with an outstanding second-round finish of Indonesia’s Priscilla Hertati Lumbangaol.

Exactly fourteen days after her remarkable conquest of Lumbangaol, Iniong will make an immediate return to action to face Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi in a three-round atomweight encounter at ONE: Immortal Pursuit, which takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Friday, November 24.ONE Legends of the World - Gina Iniong def Hertati Lumban Gaol

Iniong accepted the offer to fill in for ONE Atomweight World Lee Angela Lee, who withdrew from her title defense against Yamaguchi after suffering injuries from an unfortunate car accident nearly two weeks ago.

The atomweight collision on the main card of Immortal Pursuit is a rematch from their first encounter three and a half years ago, in a regional show in the Philippines, where Iniong pulled away with a razor-thin split decision victory over Yamaguchi.

Iniong believes that her second meeting with Yamaguchi could be seen as a stepping stone to a future shot at the world title.

“That is my ultimate motivation, to become world champion.

“That is why I joined this organization, to showcase my skills and to prove to the world that I have what it takes to be the best. My opponent is a good striker, so I have no doubt that this will be an entertaining contest,” she stated.

Iniong has no qualms about going into an instantaneous title shot against Lee should she be victorious over Yamaguchi on Friday.

“I will face whoever ONE Championship wants me to face. I am ready, anytime. But I have my eye on the champion, and I want that belt,” she declared.

As Iniong is set to step inside the ONE Championship cage for the third time this 2017, she has a clear vision in her mind.

Iniong knows that she will be locked inside the steel structure opposite a familiar foe like Yamaguchi, but she also recognizes what she has to do to get the job done.

“I will try to finish my fight in with a first-round knockout or submission. This is an opportunity to put me closer to my dream. I am giving everything that I have to get my hand raised this Friday.”


Mixed Martial Arts

CJ de Tomas drops 2nd straight UFC bout



FILE PHOTO of former URCC Flyweight Champion and UFC Bantamweight CJ de Tomas

Even a move up in weight class could not lift Filipino champion CJ de Tomas to the win column in the UFC, as he surrendered via second round submission to Alex Perez, Sunday morning in the undercard of UFC Fight Night 123 held in SaveMart Center in Fresno, California.

The stoppage came via a D’arch choke with a minute and 54 seconds into the second round.

The loss dropped the former URCC Flyweight Champion to an 8-2 slate. His first loss in the biggest fight league in the world came last June 17, suffering a unanimous decision loss to Japanese fighter Naoki Inoue.

De Tomas, 21, started the contest off on the right foot, outgunning Perez (19-4) on the standup. However, as De Tomas went for a shot, his opponent was able to grab his neck and attempt a couple of chokes. De Tomas was able to fight it off, but Perez took him down to close out the round.

Having gotten a feel of what De Tomas could bring, the American fighter — the top-ranked flyweight in California — was able to duck a wild hook by the Filipino and connect on a single leg take down. After getting into side control, Perez locked the second-generation Filipino fighter with a tight D’arce choke to secure the tap-out.

With this, De Tomas — who most likely will get a third chance with the UFC — needs to refocus, as his back is now against the wall in the big league. Another loss will result in him being cut by UFC.

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Mixed Martial Arts

All Filipino fighters finished in Warriors of the World



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Entering the night with high hopes, Filipinos April Osenio, Rome Trinidad, Rabin Catalan, and Jimmy Yabo were all sent crashing down hard on Saturday evening during ONE Championship: Warriors of the World, held at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

April Osenio suffers first round TKO loss

Debuting Xiong Jing Nan picked up an impressive first-round TKO against Team Lakay’s April Osenio in a catchweight bout.

Xiong and Osenio both came out looking to make a statement, as they started swinging heavy leather at each other early before getting locked up in the clinch against the cage.

Seeing an opening for a takedown, “The Panda” landed a beautiful outside trip to take the contest to the mat. The Chinese athlete transitioned to a guillotine choke, which looked deep, but Osenio played good defense before slipping free.

The Filipina had had enough of the ground battle and stood back up, but that ultimately led to her undoing, as Xiong pursued her with a barrage of strikes in a furious exchange of punches.

Finally, “The Panda” connected with a devastating right hand that dropped Osenio to the ground, and the referee quickly swooped in at 3:44 of the opening stanza to stop the contest before she took any unnecessary damage.

Rome Trinidad taps to Thai darling Rika Ishige

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Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige was looking to get back to winning ways following her first career defeat to Filipina Jomary Torres last August in Macao, but Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad traveled to Bangkok with the intention of spoiling the party.

With the Thai crowd emphatically behind their hometown star, Ishige was determined to get her way. The 28-year-old Thai star showcased huge improvements, as she rallied to a second-round submission victory.

The first round was spent exclusively on their feet, with “Tinydoll” staying true to her pre-bout assertion that she would showcase the striking game she has been working so hard on at Bangkok Fight Lab and Tiger Muay Thai & MMA.

Coming against a Philippine Sikaran national champion in Trinidad, it was a bold move. Ishige was unfazed by Trinidad’s attacks, and looked to land hard low kicks, while “The Rebel” replied with a piston-like straight right hand. There was not much to separate the pair after the first five minutes, as there were good stand-up exchanges throughout.

The second frame started in similar fashion, with both competitors looking to engage on the feet. However, it seemed clear that Ishige had gotten advice from her corner to initiate a clinch sooner, and as soon as the 20-year-old Trindad over-extended with a right hand, the Thai ducked under to secure a takedown. It could have been all over there, as “Tinydoll” attacked with punches, chokes, and an armbar, but the durable Filipino managed to escape.

As they resumed on the feet, Ishige landed a solid left hook that appeared to daze her opponent, and this forced Trinidad to close the distance and drive her to the fence. From there, Ishige used her grappling advantage to sneak onto her opponent’s back and set up the finish, locking in a tight rear-naked choke and forced that tap from “The Rebel”.

Jimmy Yabo stopped by Muay Thai champion

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Sagetdao Petpayathai and the Philippines’ Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo locked horns in a scheduled three-round featherweight contest, and kicked off the main card.

After a striking masterclass, it was Petpayathai who came out victorious. He made quick work of Yabo, winning via knockout after a well-placed knee exploded on Yabo’s midsection. The contest was stopped at 2:44 of round one, awarding another thrilling knockout victory to the surging Petpayathai – his third straight.

Round one saw both men charge straight at each other. Yabo, a taekwondo and boxing-based martial artist, proved elusive early, as Petpayathai narrowly missed a series of high kicks.

Vowing to pose the Thai stalwart a few new problems, “The Silencer” closed the gap and secured overhooks. Yabo tried to drop levels and take the action to the ground, but the local favorite showed great takedown defense, and was able to circle away from the fence.

With both men throwing caution to the wind and wanting to engage, it was only a matter of time before they got tied up again. In the clinch once more, Petpayathai unloaded with thunderous knees. One of those knees landed square on Yabo’s liver, causing him to crumple in pain.

Referee Olivier Coste needed no further indication that the Filipino was done, and swiftly rushed to call a halt to the bout, giving Petpayathai the satisfying triumph in front of his hometown crowd.

Rabin Catalan overwhelmed Thai wrestling champion

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It was the perfect performance by Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai. The 13-time Thai Wrestling Champion returned to Bangkok, and elevated his profile by defeating the Philippines’ Rabin “The Rock” Catalan via TKO in just 3:01.

Kongsrichai immediately brought the crowd to life by charging at Catalan with a spinning back elbow that barely missed the mark. Although Catalan — a Filipino wushu champion — tried to take the Thai down, the local favorite reversed course and brought Catalan to the canvas in powerful fashion.

Keen to show off his standup, the 26-year-old Thai got back up and invited “The Rock” back to his feet. From there, Kongsrichai rushed in with his steadily improved striking. The 31-year-old Catalan went for the takedown once more, but “Dream Man” successfully reversed it again.

With the crowd screaming for their hero, Kongsrichai placed his knee on Catalan’s belly and went to work. He then transitioned into full mount, took a few seconds to smile, and initiated a calculated ground and pound attack, strategically dropping sharp elbows.

Unable to handle the onslaught, Catalan tapped out, prompting referee Kemp Cheng to stop the contest.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rabin Catalan dedicates upcoming bout to late teammate Rocky Batolbatol



Filipino strawweight competitor Rabin “The Rock” Catalan (4-3) will pay his respects to late brother-in-arms Rocky Batolbatol when he steps into the ONE Championship cage.

The 31-year-old Iloilo City native is slated to lock horns with Thai stalwart Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai in the undercard of ONE: Warriors of the World, which takes place at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday, December 9.

Catalan dedicates his upcoming bout against Kongsrichai to his deceased teammate and fellow ONE Championship athlete, who passed away last July 23 due to a tragic accident in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.

Batolbatol became part of the growing ONE Championship family in 2014, competing in three exciting bouts under Asia’s largest global sports media property.

Known by the moniker “The Outlaw” due to his fan-friendly style inside the cage, he is a former professional boxer who has transitioned smoothly into the sport of mixed martial arts, with a win-loss record of 5-3 that includes two spectacular knockout wins and one impressive submission victory.

Batolbatol was last seen inside the ONE Championship cage in May 2016, when he faced Singaporean prospect Christian Lee.

“Rocky is like a brother to me. He was always there for me. There was a point in my life that I was down and out. I had no inspiration to continue my career, but he was there to uplift my spirit,” Catalan shared.

“He was a kind of guy who would not give up on you no matter.”

Catalan and Batolbatol were teammates at Mindanao Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts, a training facility that is headquartered in Cagayan De Oro City and houses the best and the brightest talents in the Philippine’s southernmost major island of Mindanao.

Ever since joining ONE Championship in 2016, Batolbatol never missed a bout of Catalan, as he always sat on the coach’s stool and extended his guidance to his comrade whether in victory or defeat.

“I miss him a lot.

“It is difficult because I won’t have him in my corner in my upcoming fight. We all have to move forward. I am dedicating this bout to him. I will try to make him proud by getting the victory,” Catalan stated.

Catalan has his hands full at ONE: Warriors of the World ,as he squares off with Kongsrichai in a three-round strawweight clash.

Touted as one of the most promising young athletes in ONE Championship today, Kongsrichai made his promotional debut in the organization’s first-ever show in Bangkok in 2016, stopping opponent Kev Hemmorlor via first-round technical knockout.

In his most recent outing, Kongsrichai made quick work of Indonesia’s Adrian Matheis, finishing his opponent by way of first-round technical knockout.

Although a tough test awaits him, Catalan remains unperturbed over the fact that the most challenging bout in his eight-year professional career is ahead of him.

“I don’t see it as a problem. To me, this is a challenge that can bring out the best in me,” he stated.

“The core of martial arts is to unleash a human’s true potential. I want to know my potential in this sport. That’s why I am happy to be in this fight against a talented fighter like him.”

Catalan, who has an extensive background in Muay Thai and Wushu, stressed that he has made a solid preparations for his cage meeting with Kongsrichai, revealing that he worked on his ground game with the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners at Mindanao Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts.

“My preparation for this fight has been absolutely awesome. I got help from my friends and teammates. They helped me to level up my striking. For this fight, I did extra work on my grappling. This will probably be the best camp that I’ve ever had in my career,” he divulged.

His back may be against the wall on Friday, but Catalan assured that his string of setbacks gives him extra drive to get the win at Warriors of the World.

“I really want this win because I lost my debut in ONE Championship, and then I lost my second fight. This is a chance to redeem myself,” said Catalan.

“I know this fight will not be a walk in the park, but I am determined to shock the world on December 9.”


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Mixed Martial Arts

April Osenio more motivated after earning college degree



Filipino standout April Osenio, a Philippine national Wushu champion and a ONE Championship atomweight contender, has added another feather to her cap.

Although it is devoid of martial arts competition, it is a milestone in itself, as she has earned a college diploma.

Along with three other Team Lakay colleagues, Osenio graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Criminal Justice Education at the University of Cordilleras In Baguio City last September 1.

According to Osenio, it was an accomplishment on her part to disprove the stereotype that prizefighters do not put a premium on education.

“Pursuing your passion in martial arts is not a hindrance in securing your future through education,” she stated. “It is also a way of breaking the stigma that fighters have in our society.

“It’s an achievement that I was able to set an example for others to follow.”

Osenio is also aware that being a professional athlete is not a lifetime job, and having a college degree will open avenues for her in the future.

“Education is very important because my career as a fighter will not last for long time,” said Osenio who had her first professional bout under the ONE Championship banner in 2015.

“By the time I reach 38 or 40 years old, I need to retire and have another job to support my family.”

Although Osenio is reviewing for the Criminologist Licensure Examination in June 2018, she shies away a little from her books to put her attention on wearing her four-ounce combat gloves again.

Osenio is set to close out 2017 for Team Lakay as she returns to the ONE Championship cage on Saturday, December 9, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 23-year-old Baguio City native is moving up to the strawweight division to face promotion newcomer “The Panda” Xiong Jingnan of China on the undercard of ONE: Warriors of the World.

Osenio, who has not competed since her submission loss to Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang in December 2016, knows of the tough challenge that lies ahead of her.

Xiong is an upcoming female strawweight contender in ONE Championship and is known as one of the top three leading female martial arts talents in China.

With a penchant for scoring highlight-reel finishes and executing powerful slams, Xiong holds an impressive professional record of 9-1.

Despite the gigantic opposition in front of her, Osenio promises to give fans her best effort and turn her three-round match with Xiong into a stand-up war

“It has been a while since fans last saw me in the cage. I would say I have not changed a lot, I have just been working on improving my skills,” Osenio explained. “My style is still the same. I focus on my Wushu and really want to test my opponent’s striking abilities.

“I am excited to show everyone how much better I am this time around.”

When she steps back into the cage at Warriors of the World, Osenio stressed that she is eager to make a strong statement.

“I have been really working on sharpening my skills and fixing a lot of my weaknesses,” the fresh grad said. “This next bout is so important because my opponent is one of China’s best martial artists, and a win will really speak volumes of where I am at as a professional.

“This is one of the toughest training camps I have ever had so far, and I am ready to showcase the results in Bangkok.”

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