HARRIS ‘The Hitman’ Sarmiento badly wanted a challenger who would stand and bang with him.
The Pacific X-Treme Combat lightweight champion got his wish, but took everyone by surprise as he took Isaiah Ordiz to the ground and forced him to tap out in their title fight on Saturday night in PXC 35 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Known for his superior striking skill, the Filipino-American title-holder displayed a new weapon in his arsenal by scoring a kimura submission late in the first round to retain his 155-pound belt.
“You know what, a fight is a fight. There was a game plan and this was the game plan," Sarmiento said as he notched his 36th victory in 60 professional fights.
The ploy was surprising after he seemed vulnerable at the ground in his disappointing first-round submission loss at the hands of 145-pound champion Mark Striegl last November.
The ploy took Ordiz by surprise.
“I was thinking Harris was going to go toe to toe with me but it is what it is,” said Ordiz, who lost for the first time in three PXC fights. “He executed a good game plan, took me down, had a good base and caught me with a kimura.”
Honing his ground game in training, the 29-year-old Sarmiento was prepared wherever the fight went this time.
“I just wanted to play it smart,” the pride of Ilocos Norte said. “I just took advantage of an opening and once I brought him to the ground, I knew I could finish the fight right away.”
Sarmiento, who plans to spend a month in his hometown before going back to Hawaii, expressed his desire for a rematch against Striegl, who was present at the venue on Saturday night.
“Where you at Mark?” Sarmiento taunted his former tormentor. “Who wants to see it for a second time?”
As for Sarmiento’s San Pedro, Laguna-born victim, he won’t leave any stone unturned in his quest for another title shot.
“I’m just going to forget this day, move on, and train right away tomorrow,” Ordiz said. “No time for me to rest.”
In the main undercard, Louis Smolka recovered from an early beating to emerge triumphant against Alvin Cacdac via submission.
After suffering a cut in the right eyebrow that turned his face into a bloody mess in the first round, the Hawaiian Smolka regained his bearing in the next two rounds, leaning on his ground and pound game before finishing the match with a rear-naked choke.
“I’m kind of used to that because I get beat up all the time in training,” said Smolka, who remained unbeaten in three fights and gained a title shot against flyweight champion Ale Cali of Davao.
Meanwhile, Troy Bantiag caught Tony Reyes with a solid right punch then finished off his Guamanian opponent with continuous blows to score a referee-stoppage win late in the first round.
Chuji Kato of Japan also registered a win after forcing Egons Racz into submission with a rear-naked choke.