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Eugene Toquero: Philippine MMA’s antihero



Mixed martial arts is serious business.

From the training and programs months before fight night, to the rigorous process of weight-cutting, and, of course, the fight itself, preparing for a fight brings out the worst in a mixed martial artist. However, Eugene Toquero takes everything in stride: he fights for the moment.

During the weigh-ins for the ONE Spirit of Champions card, Toquero did not look like your typical mixed martial arts fighter. His hair was unkempt and he did not have an entourage carrying his luggage. As one fan remarked, “mukha siyang mag ba-basketball lang.” This “unconventionality” he personifies has endeared Toquero to the Filipino fans in his four-year MMA career.

After making the flyweight limit in his bout against ONE Beijing Flyweight tournament winner Li Wei Bin, Toquero was asked by host Anthony Suntay on how he trained for this fight. “Ganun pa rin, trabaho lang at basketball,” he said to the delight of the audience. “Joke lang. Naghanda ako para dito. Kelangan makakita ng magandang laban ang mga tao.”
Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Eugene Toquero: Philippine MMA's antihero
Toquero soaked in the moment during his entrance to the cage. Moreover, he did not looked fazed nor pressured even in fighting in front of his countrymen and the crowd knew it. During the pre-fight introductions, Toquero fixed his hair, the crowd roared. The Filipino then just looked at the camera and was featured on the big screen, again the crowd cheered. Finally, when his name was announced by Suntay, the crowd was deafening.

Then, the bell rang.

The Filipino absolutely schooled the younger Chinese fighter in ten minutes of action. During the fight, Toquero was hyper-aggressive in his strikes and ground game. Then, in the closing seconds of the second round, Toquero was able to gain the back of Li and land at least 64 unanswered shots that led to the corner stoppage for Toquero’s eighth win in ten fights.

“Wow, fantastic baby!” the Cebuano declared to once again draw laughter from the crowd. “This is Philippines versus China at nanalo tayo!”

Toquero, a self-confessed fan of Filipino action movies, disclosed during the post-fight press conference that he wants to leave the audience entertained every time he steps on to the cage. “Patuloy niyo lang suporta kasi every time maglalaro ako lagi akong nag-iisip paano e-entertain ‘yung mga tao,” a grateful Toquero told the members of the press.  “Alam ko kasi masayang manood ng action talaga na kakaiba.”

He then told Tiebreaker Times that the fight was 50-50 during the first round, “Yung unang round 50-50 pa e. Kung tinatamaan ko siya uungul lang pero di ko matuloy-tuloy. Sabi ko pag tinamaan ko siya ulit, titignan ko reaksyon niya. Ayun nung tinamaan ko sa sentido, nawala siya sa diskarte niya.”

“Inulit-ulit ko nung nakuha ko likod niya at dun na ko naka-puwesto,” the charismatic fighter added. “Kasama na rin yun kasi second round na. Naawa na rin yung katawan ko para sa mga tao kaya puwede ng tapusin nun.”

Outside of the cage though, Toquero has had a hard time putting up the funds needed to establish his new gym. The former Submission Sports Philippines trainer was supposed to start his own training facility but construction was halted due to the finances. Nonetheless, he still promises to train harder and be more active to finally attain his dream of having his own gym.

To close, he then shared this advice to aspiring Filipino fighters. “Para sa mga mahilig magtrain sa MMA, lagiyan niyo ng puso. Kelangan seryosohin at hindi puwedeng magsawa. Kelangan pag nagtrain ka sa kahit anong sports, mahalin mo. Gawin mong sa iyo at angkinin mo. Ibahin mo sa iba.”

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