DAVE Galera felt he has hardly proven himself when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) signed him last month in a development that enabled him to become the first homegrown Filipino in the UFC.
Now with a chip on his shoulder, the 35-year-old pride of Baguio tries to make the Philippines proud as he makes his debut in the world’s biggest stage of mixed martial arts on Saturday in UFC Fight Night 34 in Singapore against Royston Wee.
“Hindi porket nag-UFC na ako, I’m the best here in the Philippines. Marami pang mas magaling sa akin,” Galera told Spin.ph a few days ago before flying to Singapore. “Blessing lang sa akin ni Lord ‘to. So I have to prove to the country that I deserve to be here.”
Galera on Friday officially passed the weigh-in, although he came in a pound above the 135-pound bantamweight limit, which is acceptable in the UFC as long as it is not a title fight.
With most of the Lakay fighters signed to other promotions, the UFC had to pick a virtually unknown, but tested fighter in Galera, who is unbeaten in five fights -- all his wins coming from submission -- in less than two years of practicing MMA.
Still, Galera thought he has not yet done enough to merit the six-fight contract he received.
“Medyo nagulat ako kasi inisip ko bakit ako? Baguhan lang ako at marami pa akong teammates na mas magaling sa akin. Curious lang ako bakit ako,” admitted the rising star, who honed his skills at Lakay, home of the country’s top MMA fighters like Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang, and Honorio Banario.
Now thrust into the spotlight, Galera is set to showcase his skills against a fellow undefeated submission specialist in Wee, a hometown bet, in their undercard bout.
Wee, who weighed in at 134 pounds, last fought in 2011, but Galera is definitely not taking his opponent lightly.
“So far hindi pa (nakikita laban niya). I wasn’t really paying attention, pero I don’t want to underestimate my opponent.”