Filipino warriors need more wrestling skills

The apparent lack of wrestling skills is proving to be the Achilles’ Heel of Filipino mixed martial arts warriors. None was more evident than the recent loss of Team Lakay fighter Dave Galera in the Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night 34 in Singapore.


Galera bowed to the Singaporean Royston Wee in their bantamweight tussle and absorbed his first loss after five victories in the Philippines.

“It wasn’t our night, guys. I learned a lot, I will be back better,” said Galera in his Facebook wall.

He was probably talking about the difference in wrestling skills, which Wee used to the hilt in dominating the Filipino for three rounds, en route to the unanimous decision victory. Galera had no answer to Wee’s takedowns, which proved to be the big difference in the match. Interestingly, Galera has a good grappling background as he trained under the gracie jiu jitsu system in Reno, Nevada before joining Team Lakay to hone his striking.

“We don’t have wrestling in our arsenal. It is not something natural to us,” commented Arnel Lomibao, instructor at his Hyper MMA gym in Manila. “We really need to have world-class wrestlers to train our MMA athletes, otherwise, we can’t compete with the best in the world.”

A UFC commentator once said that to learn wrestling in a couple of months is not enough. An MMA fighter, he added, should live and breathe wrestling, if he wants to be really good at it or understand its very nature. He was probably right, at least in the case of Lakay Team, ranked as one of the top MMA gyms in Asia. Team Lakay, has been training with Iranian Olympic wrestling coach Ali Heydarabadi for months already, but that wasn’t enough. It might take a little longer before the Lakay fighters can fully embrace and absorb the techniques of wrestling for MMA.

Eduard Folayang, a multi-titled wushu athlete and a veteran in Lakay’s roster, also fell prey to superior wrestling in his lost to an Iranian foe named Kamal Shalorus last April at a ONE FC event. After that loss, he underwent wrestling training with Heydarabadi and showed improvements in his win over Vincent Laotel at ONE FC 13: Moment of Truth. While Lakay fighters are praised for their superior striking skills due to their MMA base of wushu, they are known to be inferior on the ground.

Singapore’s Impact MMA and Evolve MMA gyms have enlisted the services of world champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling to train their fighters. Former NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren, the undefeated former Bellator champion, recently joined Evolve MMA as an in-house trainer and a fighter, having bagged a contract with ONE Fighting Championship.

“We have to catch up with the fast growing development of MMA, we have to be more knowledgeable in wrestling and grappling,” said Baguio-based gym owner Chris Gazmin, who was a former grappling trainer in the US Marines.


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Categories: Asian MMA, Featured, MMA, Philippines


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