Being a champion simply shows that you are the best fighter in your division. But you must understand that the journey to become on top of the food chain is not that easy. You will surely encounter some hurdles that will hinder you from getting closer to achieving your dream, which will sooner or later help you to become a stronger person inside and out.
Crisanto “The Slugger” Pitpitunge is one of the toughest bantamweight fighters in Asia today. He has been through a lot of difficulties in life that motivated him to attain his dreams in life.
Training out of one of the badass gyms in Asia, Team Lakay, the current PXC world bantamweight champion Pitpitunge started his pro MMA career in 2011 against a fellow Filipino fighter, Mark “Mugen” Striegl.
Crisanto heading to that fight is hundred percent ready. But the bigger, stronger and well-rounded fighter Striegl overpowered the well-versed striker in Pitpitunge and took the fight to the ground where he imposed his will and submit him via rear naked choke in the opening round.
Since that loss, Pitpitunge worked his tail off to hone his ground game and his take-down defense.
In August of 2011, Pitpitunge made his PXC debut against a super tough veteran in Alex Castro. Pitpitunge won the fight via 1st round TKO (Doctor Stoppage). The Baguio-based fighter was not impressed of his performance against Castro and he told his fans that he will perform way better next time.
Pitpitunge made his second PXC appearance at PXC 26 in November of 2011 against Jerry Cimeni. Pitpitunge’s MMA game has significantly improved on that fight as he showcased some deadly ground and pound attack to Cimeni. Crisanto won via 1st round TKO.
After that win against Cimeni, Pitpitunge went on a tear winning three more wins, including his PXC 31 championship match-up against Justin Cruz, who Pitpitunge dethroned in just two minutes of the very first round via nasty KO punch.
You can watch the KO punch at 0:29 mark:
After almost a year since he got the belt, “The Slugger” is officially back to make his first-ever title defense against the undefeated Japanese submission specialist, Michinori Tanaka on May 18th at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, Philippines, for PXC 37.
“Tanaka is a well-rounded fighter. He is very good in the ground as well as in the striking department. I’m really not that concerned about his Jiu Jitsu skills. This is MMA, everything can happen in any moment. If his strength is on the ground, I’ll happy to fight his fight and beat him there.”, said the confident Pitpitunge.
As always, Crisanto, through the help of Team Lakay head coach, Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, is preparing very well for this fight as they know that Tanaka is a world-class fighter,
“My training for this fight is fantastic. I’m very thankful for my team mates here at Team Lakay, Baguio, for helping me out. Because here at Team Lakay, we are acting like one, we make sure that everyone is improving as a person and fighter.”
Everyone is expecting a lot from the champion as the memory of that KO win over Cruz is still there. I mean, he put the former champ into a deep sleep in a single punch. That’s how good and powerful Pitpitunge is.
“When I fought Cruz last year for the belt, I am really prepared to trade strikes with him or if he takes me down, it’s fine because we also prepared for it. We really studied Cruz’ game by watching his past fights and one thing we saw that he really loves to do is throwing that superman punch. So we came up with a counter that whenever he throws superman punch, I will counter with my right. That’s why I’m very happy that I won that fight in an impressive fashion.”
There’s no doubt that Pitpitunge’s striking is second to none, but in his previous fights, we really didn’t saw how good his guard is and his defense on the ground. But everyday, the game is evolving. In order for you to become a champion, you need to learn or at least master every aspect of the game. And that’s what Pitpitunge is doing right now; getting better as a striker and a grappler as well.
“My advantage him (Tanaka) would be my striking and power. But I am hundred percent confident that I can also beat him on his own game. I think his endurance has never been tested. We’ll see if he can keep up with my pace until the later rounds. This is championship fight, five rounds of five minutes, so we’ll see.”
After he acquired the PXC bantamweight title, Crisanto committed himself into a six-month training as a Police Officer. He may have been away in the gym for quite some time, but the champion knows his responsibilities as the best in his division.
“In my six-months of training as a Police Officer, I managed to stay in shape by doing roadwork every morning, we also have strength and conditioning training inside our barracks and drills that are similar to MMA training that we do.”
When asked on what is Team Lakay’s secret to success,
“There are no secrets. It’s all patience and hard work. We are working as one even though sometimes the gym is full, we always make sure that everybody is learning and helping each other out. Team Lakay is a brotherhood, we are supporting each other. We are very thankful that we have Coach Mark Sangiao, who is always there to guide us and teach us things that will help us to become a better person.”
Being guided by one of the best MMA coaches in the fight business today is arguably one of the reasons why Pitpitunge is one of the feared fighters in Asia. Mark Sangiao, as a fighter, is known for being a finisher. He knocks and submit people out. As a coach, he really has the knowledge to mold champions because he has been in the sport for a long time. That’s why Pitpitunge is so thankful that they have a coach like Mark Sangiao.
“Coach Mark is always reminding me to stay patient and work hard everyday in the gym. He also told us that it is better to experience some difficulties in training than to the actual fight.”
As the fight night approaches, the intensity of Pitpitunge’s training is getting harder, the pressure is rising as the champion gets nearer to the day where he will face the most important fight of his career.
On May 18, 2013, PXC world bantamweight champion and the pride of the Philippines, Crisanto “The Slugger” Pitpitunge faces a sumbission wizard in Michinori Tanaka.
“They can expect a very good and exciting fight between me and Tanaka”, said Pitpitunge.
PXC 37 will also showcase a four-man featherweight tournament as fan favorite, Mark “Mugen” Striegl faces Shooto champ, Yusuke Yachi and Korean Top Team’s “The Beast” Jang Yong Kim battles Hawaiian fighter, Nate “Da Great” Thorell.
The finals match of the said featherweight tourney is scheduled on August in the Philippines and the winner will be crowned as the new PXC world featherweight champion.
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