19-year-old Iloilo-native CJ “The Golden Boy” de Tomas (6-0) vowed to avenge his father’s loss to Japanese fighter Hideo Morikawa during the build-up to URCC 27: Rebellion.
The Golden Boy was able to live up to the hype, handing the Zendokai fighter his first loss in three years in a dominant unanimous decision win to cop the URCC Flyweight belt. De Tomas displayed composure missing from his title eliminator bout against Carlo Laurel a year ago during URCC 26: Domination.
“Hindi ko ma-explain yung feeling,” said an emotional De Tomas after the fight. “Kanina nga napa-iyak na lang ako pagkatapos ng laban. Yung pagod sa training at nung laban nawala nung sinuot sa akin yung belt.”
The main difference this time, compared to his bout with Laurel, was that his father, former mixed martial artist Charles “El Tigre” De Tomas (3-4), was in his corner. “Kay Carlo napaghandaan ko ‘yun kaso gigil ako. Ngayon, relax talaga. Yung tenga ko bukas sa mga cornerman ko kaya bawat round parang nawawala kagad pagod ko. Parang ensayado talaga e. Nakatulong talaga nung nakapag-corner si papa,” the Iloilo-native reflected.
Prior to the bout, the second-generation mixed martial artist had not been aware that his dad would be in his corner for the bout. After retiring from professional fighting, “El Tigre” was hired as a cutman for the URCC. “Last minute pa naman dumating si papa, nung paakyat ako ng cage dun lang siya dumating. Kala ko hindi talaga siya aabot,” De Tomas added. “Last time kasi hindi siya nakapag-corner. Ngayon, dagdag motivation talaga kasi nakalaban din niya si Morikawa. Dagdag tulong yun sa akin.”
The importance of having his father in the corner is not tangible according to De Tomas. According to him, his father is the only one who could tell when he should pace himself in-bout. “Lagi niya pinapaalala sa akin na relax lang, makukuha ko rin ‘yun. Antay-antay lang ba. Nung kay Carlo masyadong rush, si Morikawa naman parang zombie,” he furthered.
“Paulit-ulit niyang sinasabi relax lang. Siya lang may alam ng kakayahan ko. Alam niya kung pagod na ko o kung kaya ko pa.”
De Tomas is currently recognized as the youngest champion in the continent by the majority of the organizing bodies for MMA here in Asia. Being just 19 years young and currently in just his fourth year in the game, the Golden Boy of Philippine MMA believes that he needed to enter the pro ranks in order to keep his father from fighting again.
“Nag-pro ako 16 tapos ngayon 19, three years. Hindi ko masabi na mabilis kasi three years din ‘yun. Parang pinasa kasi sa akin ni papa yung laban niya,” he reflected.
CJ made his pro debut during URCC’s Dutdutan Tattoo Festival back in September of 2012. While the younger De Tomas was able to win his first bout via a third round submission of Mark Dialogo to open the night, his father Charles was knocked out in the preliminaries by Rod Romero. “Sabay kami, yung retirement niya yun yung unang laban ko ng pro. Nung Dutdutan ’12 mga September. Knock-out siya nun pero kasi pinilit lang niya lumaban para sabay kami,” the younger De Tomas reflected.
“Sabi niya nun, ‘pag nag pro ka, titigil na ko sa laban.'”
Now that he has achieved his father’s dreams and even has a family of his own, De Tomas still continues to help out his father with the start-up that his father has opened. Even during the rigorous parts of his training going into the fight, he made sure to help out his father even if it had been against the wishes of his wife and trainers.
“Kasi yung negosyo ni papa ngayon mga mitts at mga punching bag. Ngayon ang init talaga, hindi niya kaya yung panahon. Ako na nagdedeliver kahit may training ako nun. Nung nakaraang araw nga kahit nagrereduce ako nun, nagdedeliver pa ko,” the new URCC Flyweight Champion shared with a smile. “Pinapagalitan nga ako ng asawa ko ‘nun kasi hindi na daw dapat ako bumiyahe nun para makapahinga.”
“Pero kelangan e kasi respeto ko ‘yun sa magulang ko. Kung wala si papa, wala ako dito.”
Now that CJ De Tomas is achieving his and his father’s dreams, the Golden Boy still looks at his past to stay hungry and continue on to his path to greatness.