MMA fighter Drex Zamboanga took home Fullcon’s inaugural title in Baguio

Drex Zamboanga Dojo Drifter Mike MIguel

Drex Zamboanga is crowned as Fullcon Fighting Championship’s inaugural MMA bantamweight champion.

The young and rising Drex Zamboanga scored the biggest victory of his career by taking home Fullcon Fighting Championship’s inaugural MMA bantamweight title last weekend. Zamboanga faced crowd favorite Michael Fangki of Tribal Submission in the main event of “Warrior’s Legacy.” Dojo Drifter was there at the Baguio Convention Center and talked to Zamboanga after scoring an impressive rear-naked choke finish.

“MMA ito eh, kaya lahat posibleng mangyari sa loob ng cage. Nagkataon lang talaga ng nakita ko ang mga previous fights niya, napaghandaan ko na ang ground game niya,” Drex Zamboanga recalled his preparation before the fight. [This is MMA, so anything can happen, but I’ve studied his previous fights and I came prepared for his ground game.]

“Karamihan sa ginagawa niya ay Wushu, parang wrestling, tapos sa ground niya nadodominate ang kalaban niya. Pero at the same time kung mag stand-up kami, makikipagsabayan ako sa kanya kasi fighting for belt naman ito.” [Most of his techniques come from Wushu, sort of like wrestling, and then he dominates his opponents on the ground. But when we fighting standing, though, I don’t mind trading strikes since it’s a title fight and we’re fighting for the belt.]

Drex Zamboanga showed dominance early with a takedown in the first round. However, in the last minutes, Fangki caught him in an arm-bar position from the bottom. The fighter from Mountain Province had it really deep, but Zamboanga kept his composure until the bell rang to end the round.

“Nung nakuha niya yung armbar, mahigpit ung pagkakakuha niya. Malakas ung legs niya kasi taga Baguio siya pero hindi ko inexpect na makakakuha siya ng ganung submission. Pero ginawa ko ung makakaya ko para magdefend at hindi ko talaga ibibigay, hindi talaga ako magtatap. Pipiliin ko pa na magbreak kaysa magtap kasi kapag fighter ka andun yung pride. Bakit ko ibibigay ung arm ko? Pinaghandaan ko ito sa training at the same time gusto ko talaga makuha yung belt.”

“I’d rather have my arm broken than tap because it’s my pride as a fighter on the line [When he caught me in an armbar, it felt really tight. He has strong legs because he’s a fighter from Baguio, but I didn’t expect to get caught up in that armbar submission attempt. I just did what I had to defend and I will never give up my arm. I won’t tap. I’d rather have my arm broken than tap because it’s my pride as a fighter on the line. Why would I give up my arm? I’ve prepared hard for this fight in training and I really want to take home that Fullcon bantamweight belt.]

In the start of the second round, Zamboanga seemed unfazed of Fangki’s submission attempt that could have almost sealed his fate. He shook it off and adjusted his strategy and finally looked for the finish.

Naramdam ko ung medyo may sprain ako ng konti at nangalay siya kasi ang tagal ko nakadefend. Nung natapos na ung bell nung round 1, nagrelax lang ako mentally at physically. Hindi ko in-expect na matatapos ko siya ng rear-naked choke sa round 2. Hindi ko naisip na mapupunta kami sa ganung position. Nagulat ako sa nangyari na naka-back mount ako. Meron din pagkakataon na mahuhulog na ako mula sa lido niya. Buti na lang na hook ko ung isang paa ko ulit.

Drex Zamboanga gets his hand raised and claim the Fullcon Championship
Drex Zamboanga gets his hand raised and claim the Fullcon Championship

I felt a bit of strain in my arm because I defended it for a while. After the bell rang in the first round, I just relaxed mentally and physically. I didn’t expect that I would finish him with a rear-naked choke in round 2. I didn’t realize we would end up in that position. I was surprised to get the back mount. There were moments when I thought I’d fall off his back, but I hooked my foot and secured the position.

As the newly crowned Fullcon champion, Drex Zamboanga will face another challenge this coming April. He’s scheduled to face formerURCC bantamweight champion Andrew Benibe. This turns out to be another anticipated matchup of young champion against veteran champion.

“Ang preparation ko sa fight na ito ay preparation ko na din for my URCC fight against former champion Andrew Benibe this April. Ang mentality ko coming into fight at the same time lalaban ako sa URCC ay pareho kasi I’m fighting for the belt at isang former champion ang makakalaban ko. So parang psychologically, prepared na ako.” [The preparation I had for this fight is the preparation I’ll utilize in my URCC fight against former champion Andrew Benibe this April. My mentality coming into this fight is the same with my URCC fight because I’m fighting my the championship, so to speak. This time, I’m not fighting for the belt, but I’m fighting a former champion. So psychologically, I’m prepared.]

Drex Zamboanga knows that veteran Benibe has earned the respect of the local MMA community and he knows he’s up against a big task. The younger Zamboanga has said nothing but high praises to his next opponent.

“Hindi basta-basta si Sir Andrew kasi alam natin na veteran former champion siya at the same time sumasabay siya at all-around siya. Isa siya sa mga malalaking challenges para sa akin dahil respected na siya sa MMA at ako new breed fighter pa lang.” [Sir Andrew (Benibe) is a very tough fighter and we know that because he’s a former champion. He will stand and trade and he’s all-around. He’s one of the biggest challenges for me and he’s earned the respect in MMA whereas for me I belong to the new breed of fighters.]

A humble fighter even after a huge victory, Drex Zamboanga knows that a lot of fighters will try and take the belt away from him. To which he said, “I can’t stay confident and I have to prepare and train hard for the title defense.” He also knows that the Cordillera region have produced some of the best fighters the country has known.

“Maraming magagaling ditto sa Baguio dahil andyan and Team Lakay fighters, Fight Corps, at marami pang teams. Siyempre marami din ang gustong kumuha ng belt na ito at marami din magpeprepare para kalabanin ako, kaya ayaw ko making kumpyansa sa skills ko. Nakita na nila kung pano ako maglaro kayo kailangan ko pa ng more training at roll sa Jiu-jitsu. Malaki and tulong sa akin ng Fabricio Jiu-jitsu, ni CJ de Tomas, Sir Joshua Abella, at ang Toughguys International Team founded by Pastor Vincent Vicencio. Lahat ng suporta na binibigay sa akin ng top teams sa Manila para maning ready kami.”

“I know there are a lot of fighters who will train hard and try to get this belt.”[There are a lot of good fighters from Baguio because there’s Team Lakay, Fight Corps., and a lot of other teams. I know there are a lot of fighters who will train hard and try to get this belt. I don’t want to remain too confident in my skills. They’ve seen how I fight and I need to train harder and roll more in Jiu-jitsu training. Fabricio Jiu-jitsu, CJ de Tomas, Sir Joshua Abella, and the Toughguys International Team founded by Pastor Vincent Vicencio helped me a lot to prepare for this fight. All the support from the top teams in Manila helped to be ready for this.]

When asked about his thoughts on chasing the URCC championship, Drex Zamboanga ended, “Ayaw ko maging kyumpansa at manguna sa kung ano ang mangyayari. Basta para sa akin, kung ano magíng plano ng Panginoon, yun ang sa akin. Andito na ako at yung daan papunta sa URCC Championship wala ng atrasan.” [Again, I don’t want to be too confident and dictate the next thing that’s going to happen. For me, everything will happen with God’s plan for me. I’m here to stay and I won’t stop until I get that URCC Championship.]

Don Gaoiran

Rabble-rouser at Dojo Drifter
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