The latest edition of Balikatan Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) titled Balikatan 15: Goodwill Games will unfold on Sunday at the Marikina Sports Center Covered Court in Marikina City.
The main event will be the 135-140 lbs. weight class match between Filipino Richard Francis Ayala of Hybrid Yaw-Yaw and Gurpreet Singh of India.
“I will do my best for this fight. That’s why I am focusing on my ground game during our training,” the 21-year old Ayala told The Manila Times.
Ayala, a native of Tuguegarao holds an MMA win-loss record of 1-1. He said that he would use his striking techniques to overcome his Indian opponent.
The co-main event will feature the 160-165 lbs. category match between Filipino Rene Narido and Indian Kuldeep Singh.
Balikatan 15 will also feature an all-female 120-125 lbs. division fight between Fredelyn Sayod of the Philippines and Harpreet Kaur of India.
“They have already taught the things I need to do during the training. I will just apply it and let it come out naturally on that night,” said the 26-year old Sayod, a licensed radiographer from Antipolo, who is making her debut as an MMA fighter.
Sayod said her forte is striking but added that she could also outscore her opponent via take down or submission.
“Once you said that you will fight, assure yourself of winning. Even just in training, you should instill on your mind that you will win,” Sayod said.
The other Indian fighters who will see action in the tourney are Manjinder Singh Maan who will fight Andrew Martesano (165-170 lbs.), Gurwinder Singh who will take on Jason Bandosa (150-155 lbs.), Jaswinder Singh who will face Ernesto Siwa (105-110 lbs.), Farjinder Singh who will challenge Santino Dumlao (190-195 lbs.) and Abhinay Dadwal who will test his mettle against Christopher Pena (115-120 lbs.).
“Balikatan 15 is much bigger compared to previous Balikatan editions,” said veteran fighter and coach Henry Kobayashi.
Kobayashi is confident that Filipino fighters would emerge victorious as the Indians are keen to avenge their losses during the 14th edition of Balikatan.
“They will exact revenge. They will also show full force that night,” Kobayashi said.
Fight fans are also excited to find out how the 15-year old Harvey Miguel Villena would fare against the 19-year old Ricardo Jose Martinez in the 145-150 lbs. class.
“I will do my best because I dream of having a good MMA career, and it starts here,” said Villena, who’s entering the fight with his parents’ approval.
“I told my parents that I really want to play MMA and I discussed with them the discipline I will learn from it. I will follow my fight plan – to monitor and gauge his movements so I can respond which fighting techniques I will use against him,” added Villena.
To ensure safety, both fighters will be fighting under Balikatan’s kids MMA rule that prohibits ground-and-pound and only allows grappling and kickboxing.
The matches in the Balikatan 15 undercards include Christopher Roumel San Agustin vs Jomar Pal-iwen (Super Fight), Vernon Escote vs Raymond de Guzman (119-122 lbs), Jeoffran Anorico vs John Sherick Lomibao (120-125 lbs), Joemar Labiogo vs Peter John Ramao (119-122 lbs), Chapito Rivera vs Francis Ralph Macasojot (130-135 lbs), Cyrille Alejandro Malonjao vs Prince Marl Bitancor (140-145 lbs), Albert Alcoy vs Ryan Canata (115-120 lbs) and Nino Lorenzo Bautista vs Ace Darwin Ross (155-160 lbs).
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