After 77 years of multi-platformed sports, the UAAP boardmembers have announced that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Boxing will be a part of the annual league events. Both of these contact sports will take part in the 78th season of the UAAP, which is set to kickoff mid-2015.
The announcement has opened the eyes of several college student-brawlers who have gained much experience and skill in the underground fight scene, and especially those who are always involved in street fights. This will give them the chance to showcase their skills as cold-blooded, ruthless Filipino fighters both in the ring and the octagon.
Time for change
It took several months’ worth of meetings, deliberation, and evaluation for the members of the UAAP board to agree before introducing the world of MMA and Boxing to the collegiate league. Edwin Reyes, who is part of the Board of Trustees, gave his thoughts, “I like to believe that there are several students out there who have developed the love for combat sports katulad nga ng Boxing and MMA. This would give them the exposure and the opportunity they need to excel in the sport.”
In addition, several existing UAAP athletes have been considering shifting from their current sport to the combat sports that will soon come to the league. Sources say that Kiefer Ravena of the Ateneo Blue Eagles has started his MMA training with the team Atos Philippines, an organization specializing in the discipline of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Nico Elorde, the descendant of Filipino Boxing icon Gabriel “Flash” Elorde has now decided to follow the footsteps of his family hero. He is now training under the Elorde system and is rumored to be fighting on the opening night of the league’s first boxing event.
DLSU’s very own Jeron Teng also heard the news about the UAAP’s decision of holding MMA and Boxing events, and this has convinced him to enroll in the Elorde Boxing Gym located across the University. Despite openly admitting his new training regime, Teng has not given his word on whether he has decided to fight or not. However, we can expect him to eventually take his talents to the four-sided ring in the near future.
Born to fight
The Philippines has been home to some of the best fighters in the world. Boxing icons Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Mark Munoz of the UFC, and many more have graced the ring and brought honor to the nation. The list goes on as several young and aspiring athletes work day and night for an opportunity at the big stage.
In an interview with a few members of the UAAP board, they gave importance as to how Filipinos have the instinct to fight head on. “You’re never going to see a Filipino stand back and let him get beat, it’s in our nature to put up a fight,” Reyes expounds. He also mentions that the sole purpose of these new events is to give these fighters a venue to train and compete ethically so that violence is lessened out in the streets.
Manny Pacquiao has been assigned by the Board of Trustees to sit as the consultant for the Boxing category. Alvin Aguilar, the father of MMA in the Philippines, will also be handing out his guidance as the consultant for the league. These two men have paved the way for Filipino fighters in the spirit of competition and sportsmanship.
With open arms
The bold move of the UAAP to include MMA and Boxing in their list of sports has attracted a lot of attention. School members, students, sports analysts, as well as concerned family members have given both positive and negative feedback towards the decision.
“They [UAAP] are encouraging violence among student athletes and also an environment that cheers as competitors end up in pain,” one of the family members explains. On the other hand, there are more positive remarks on the acquisition of these two combat sports. Athletes are now presented an opportunity to get themselves out there, instead of the other mainstream sports getting all the attention.
However, the UAAP is looking to push through and stick with their beliefs that violence does not belong in the outskirts of the metro. Their concern is more with the welcome of MMA as a sport since there aren’t many who are avid fans of the genre and have closed their doors to glorified violence.
Today, several Boxing and MMA gyms have opened up and created their own respective roster to compete in different rings. Tournaments ranging from the amateur to the professional level have been the stepping stone for many athletes these days. With this, UAAP member schools can now take a progressive step in creating sports programs that would cater to boxers and MMA fighters, and ensure athletes their safety, guidance, and most importantly, discipline.