Ale Cali greatly admires seasoned MMA fighter Erwin Tagle while growing up, but the reigning flyweight champion’s deep respect for Tagle won’t be a factor in their title fight in the Pacific Xtreme Combat 34 at Araneta Coliseum on Saturday night.
A tough stand-up striker, Cali of Davao City will defend his crown by attempting to neutralize Tagle’s first-rate talent on the ground.
Although Cali, who owns a fight record of four victories and a loss, appears to have the upper hand because of his youth and hand speed, Tagle, a legend in Pinoy MMA circles, is technically superior despite two years of inactivity in the cage.
“He’s one of my idols in ground techniques. He’s also a martial arts expert, so I made an effort to add another skill,” said Cali, a 21-year-old former amateur boxer who is working hard to improve his ground defense.
Cali has added wrestling to his arsenal when he defends his flyweight crown for the first time.
A 34-year-old submission specialist, Tagle did his homework by making a lot of research on Cali’s striking prowess. He also has been building his stamina since their fight was shelved on Sept. 1 due to a nose injury Cali sustained in sparring.
“In his four straight victories, his opponents were exhausted. I possess the edge in skill and technique but I have to back it up with cardio training,” said Tagle, who has two wins, one loss and two draws in his MMA portfolio.
Shaping up as another explosive bout is the matchup between reigning lightweight champion Harris “The Hitman” Sarmiento and Mark “Mugen” Striegl, an undefeated (11-0) submission expert who made an impact in his PXC debut last September.
Sarmiento, who fought in four different weight classes before clinching the lightweight crown, decided to slide to 145 lb and battle the Filipino-American Striegl.