The mixed martial arts (MMA) community in the Philippines was up in arms this past weekend after an amateur fight went horribly awry as it became apparent that the fight looked fixed.
King of the Fight 9, hosted by amateur combat sports organization King of the Fight, happened on Sunday, June 19 at Las Piñas, Metro Manila, Philippines and was done in partnership with UFC Gym Philippines.
Got this video from Rolando Dy.
This shenanigan has no place in Philippine MMA. Organizers of King of the Fight should get to the bottom of it. Athletes, promoters and other stakeholders fought long and hard to put the sport where it is today. We're better than this! pic.twitter.com/U8SLyc3C6a
— NISSI ICASIANO (@Nissi_Icasiano) June 19, 2022
In the now-viral video, the fighter wearing grey shorts, later identified as Reginaldo Cruz, knocked out his opponent with a spinning backfist less than 20 seconds into the opening bell which left the crowd stunned.
Referee Jerry Legaspi later addressed the crowd as those watching began to question the legitimacy of the amateur fight.
The International Business Times was able to speak with Legaspi, who is also the coach of the Philippine National Combat Sambo Team, to get his perspective on the entire situation.
“The whole thing was shocking, actually. I wasn’t a part of their act, but I had to react somehow. I really didn’t see any legitimate hit [from Reginaldo Cruz]. When I look at the fighters, I always watch their face, their reactions and everything,” he initially remarked.
“The fight had just started and elbows weren’t allowed. It was really surprising to me. Their acting was bad. They should’ve gone to a workshop for that.”
The organization took to social media to condemn the fight, going so far as to call it an embarrassment to the sport of MMA and to its athletes.
Legaspi was also asked about whether he had seen anything peculiar prior to the event and noted that Cruz was supposed to have another fight next week.
“This is what everybody has to know: something was bothering me because I saw a poster of that guy [because] he had a fight next week. He’s been fighting for so long, why would he fight at a small event? This event was meant for newer people who do MMA … This is really meant mostly for beginners who want to train and fight,” he shared.
As someone who also wanted to get to the bottom of the whole thing, Legaspi revealed that he tried searching for Cruz’s opponent on all the major search engines and on social media, but there was no one named “Jomar Pacio” that matched the one who fought at the amateur event this past weekend.
According to the lifelong martial arts practitioner, Cruz has been doing this for years now and sent links to his past fights.
The International Business Times also reached out to King of the Fight for comments, but the promotion did not respond to an interview request.
Prominent Filipino MMA practitioners like UFC veteran Rolando Dy, former UFC fighter Mark Striegl and ex-ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang reacted to the footage.
Cruz later posted an apology for the debacle on his own social media page.
But for Legaspi, the damage has already been done and bared his thoughts about the matter one last time.
“The thing is it’s really bad for the sport. It’s a big [expletive] you to the guys [who did that]. I also want to say sorry to the people watching that may be thinking that we’re faking this sport,” he stressed.