A 34-year-old martial arts instructor hopes to make a grand return to competition and has been given the chance to do so against a champion 13 years his junior in Pacific X-Treme Combat 34 on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
MMA records show he has been inactive for six years, but Erwin Tagle said it has been just three years since he last fought and believes he can still put up a good fight with a good chance of winning against flyweight champion Ale 'The Young Gun' Cali.
“Ayaw ko i-waste ang time and opportunity ko,” Tagle said on Tuesday in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
His long layoff could be a disadvantage in their title fight, the main event of the night, but he believes otherwise.
“I don’t think magiging factor yung rust kasi before nung last fight ko, galing rin ako sa long layoff pero nanalo pa rin ako,” said Tagle, who has two wins, one loss, and two draws to show in his career.
“At laging hands-on naman ako sa students ko, so parang may laban na rin ako,” he added.
Tagle had been focusing on being a mentor to some PXC fighters, including Eugen Toquero who is also seeing action at the Big Dome this weekend. He also worked as fight analyst in previous editions, before finally being offered to make a comeback.
“Before he hangs it up for good, we want to give him the opportunity to fight in the big stage,” PXC promoter EJ Calvo said.
Adept at wrestling and jiu jitsu, Tagle said he worked on his stand-up game — holding more sparring sessions with boxers and kickboxers — and conditioning in preparation for the younger Cali, who turns 22 on November 21.
“I worked on my cardio kasi lahat ng tinalo niya napagod,” Tagle said. “Useless kung marami kang alam pero hanggang two rounds ka lang.”
While Tagle has been concentrating on his stand-up skills, Cali, who totes a 4-1 win-loss card, has been working on the opposite.
“Hinabaan at inupgrade ko talaga training ko sa ground,” the Davao-born Cali said. “Kasi isa rin siya sa idol ko sa ground game.”
In the main undercard, Harris “The Hitman” Sarmiento collides with Mark “Mugen” Striegl in a featherweight bout.
Sarmiento, who defended his 155-pound belt against Han Seonhwa via split decision in the main event of PXC 33 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, moves one weight class down for his fight against Striegl.
Undefeated in 11 fights, Striegl is one of the country’s rising MMA stars and poses a tough challenge for Sarmiento, an MMA veteran with 35 wins and 23 losses.
A battle between undefeated flyweights, Jerome Wanawan and Toquero, is also scheduled in the event which starts at 7 p.m.
Ticket prices range from P3,500 (ringside) to P400 (upper box).