At 18-years young, CJ de Tomas, a second generation mixed martial artist, is one of the top prospects in the local MMA scene.
The son of MMA fighter Charles de Tomas, the brightest fighter coming from Team USC came off the biggest battle in his young career in overcoming 22-year old Jiu jitsu specialist Carlo Laurel last Saturday during URCC 26: Domination at the Fontana Convention Center in Clark, Pampanga. The fight was an instant classic as both De Tomas and Laurel duked it out on the stand-up and scrapped it out on the ground. In the end, it was the young fighter who came out with a decision win.
After the fight, De Tomas was relieved that he got out of the match with a win. “Siyempre masaya, kasi ‘yung panalo ko pang number one contender. Sobrang thankful ako na nanalo,” de Tomas said with relief. However, he was dismayed with how Laurel conducted himself during the fight. “Yung laban kasi [during the fight] nag tra-trashtalk siya. Eh sabi ng referee bawal daw ‘yun, pero kahit yellow card hindi binigyan.” As the fight went on, Laurel, knowing that the two up-and-coming stars gave it their all in the first two rounds, hugged his opponent to open the third and final round. “Nung laban talaga nag tra-trashtalk siya, nagmumura. Pero nung last round sabi niya ‘para sa kasal mo ‘to.’ Nagulat ako. Pati ‘yung start nung third, nagkarespeto ako sa kanya,” De Tomas quipped.
Looking back on the match, De Tomas, a fighter still trying to perfect his craft, nitpicked his performance especially on the ground. De Tomas said that this was because he and his camp focused too much on the striking aspect of the game. “Kulang ang training ko. ‘Yung hangin ko pang striking lang, pero nung ground kulang pala. ‘Tsaka ‘yung training ko during the fight puro stand-up sila. So ‘yun problema, pero salamat sa Diyos nanalo,” he said.
The highly-anticipated match was not only personal for the young fighter but also had a lot at stake in it. The match was an eliminator for the URCC Flyweight title, a belt won by Hideo Morikawa later in the evening. The title match might actually happen later this year or early next year. To prepare for the match, De Tomas vowed to keep busy by continuing to run the MMA circuit. “Ngayon, kasi ‘yung URCC meron every month na fight nights. Dun siguro ako lalaban pero pahinga muna siguro ng two months.”
De Tomas believes that winning the title will book his ticket to go international. “Siguro malapit na ko sa pangarap ko na lumaban sa UFC. Sana pagkapanalo ko sa championship mapansin ako sa international,” he said with high hopes in his eyes. “Kinausap ako ni Sir Alvin after the fight, sabi niya suportahan niya ko sa pangarap ko makalaban sa states.” This was backed by URCC President Alvin Aguilar, “If the URCC goes back to the US, he’s gonna be one of the fighters headlining the card.”
Aguilar on the potential of De Tomas
Aguilar knew CJ when he was just a kid but the URCC president saw something in him. He fondly recalls saying to a young CJ “that if you keep training and be serious, you’ll be retiring as one of the all-time greats. And you make sure that whatever success you have it never gets to your head because if it gets to your head, you start believing in your own legend and that’s what brings you down.”
“CJ does everything all by himself. That’s what a champion is all about, it has to come from within. Now, we just need to make sure that he just keeps on going and going and going,” he said about the work ethic of De Tomas.
Moreover, the first Gracie Jiu jitsu black belt in the Philippines believes that De Tomas has a bright future in the sport. “He’s only 18. That’s how scary that kid is. He’s a really complete fighter. He knows how to wrestle, strike, and grapple. He has won so many gold medals in jiujitsu and wrestling,” Aguilar remarked.
But Aguilar also gave a stern warning to De Tomas. At the young age of 18, the young fighter is also set to add a new chapter in his life, being a family man. Aguilar told us that he has to be able to adjust to family life. “At 18, he’s gonna get married. For some people its gonna make a figher, for some people its gonna destroy a fighter. I really hope he does really well.”
With a record of 4-0 in the professional ranks and countless others in the amateur circuit, CJ De Tomas truly is one of the brightest young prospects we have in the local MMA scene. With the right focus, De Tomas could reach places even in international fighting organizations.