CARLOS Tiongson gave himself a huge birthday gift on Friday night when he scored the quickest and most impressive victory in the inaugural staging of the King of the Cage in the Philippines at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Filipino mixed martial artist, who turned 30 on Friday, caught Fadi Alhamoui with a right overhead punch to the jaw early in the first round that knocked his opponent out cold in their bantamweight bout.
“It’s a birthday gift,” said Tiongson, a part-time MMA practitioner, who dabbles in the car buy-and-sell business and also works as a real estate sales manager. “At bago ako lumampas ng 30, sabi ko sa sarili ko, at least kahit papano may na-accomplish ako (as far as MMA career is concerned).”
Matched up against a taller opponent, the 5-foot-5 Tiongson, whose parents are from Nueva Ecija, turned to his reliable weapon that has proven effective against sparring mates in the Submission Sports Gym, owned by local MMA star Erwin Tagle.
“Game plan na talaga siya,” revealed the soft-spoken Tiongson, a mass communication graduate out of Centro Escolar University. “Yun ang ginagawa ko usually sa gym. Kasi yung height ko, pag nag-ja-jab straight ako, hindi umaabot, so ang ginagawa ko nag-o-overhand na lang ako. Dun lagi ako effective.”
It was not only Tiongson who impressed among all the 20 Filipino fighters featured in the event that lasted past midnight and was graced by Ultimate Fighting Championship icons in fighter Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson and referee Herb Dean, as well as numerous Filipino celebrities.
Dean Bermudez, a Manny Pacquiao look-alike, came up with the second-best showing and drew the loudest cheers from the crowd as he scored a referee-stoppage win over Rex Tanduyan after locking his opponent with a standing guillotine choke in the second round of their flyweight fight.
Winnie Paderna also shone as he pummeled Mark Valerio with continuous strikes to win via another referee stoppage decision.
In the main event featuring foreign fighters, American Sean Strickland remained unbeaten in 12 fights and successfully defended his middleweight title for the fourth time following a unanimous decision win over Yusuke Sakashita of Japan.
In the lone light heavyweight bout, Jef Torico forced Patrick dos Santos to tap out in the second round.
However, Tiongson’s stable mate Ricardo Dacuyan lost to Ralf Francisco via technical knockout after he waived the white flag before the start of the third and last round.
Meanwhile, Janito “The Man” Bayot, Mike Bunag, and Rabin Catalan defeated Francis Curilan, JM Figueras, and Genil Francisco, respectively, all via unanimous decision.
Two other bouts also went the distance, but ended up in a split decision, with Tata Galindez edging Yogs Cartajena and Uno Legazpi scraping past Reign Soto.