- Shad D. de Guzman
First of all, congratulations on the success of URCC-03 "Siege at the Fort." So what made you want to organize such an event here in the Philippines?
Well, I saw that all of us excel in combat arts; the Filipinos in general excel in combat arts. We excel in Boxing, Taekwondo, and Wrestling. So I've decided why not Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as well? Also, I've been part of the underground fighting scene for a long time. I've seen how bad it can get, when people lose, they take it out and do other things. And another thing is, so people can have a proper outlet, so it would be in the ring. So everybody will fight in the ring, and not on the streets.
Did you have any problems during the first URCC?
Not really, all of the fighters were model martial artists. They weren't the cocky types, although there were some few groups who were cocky. But after a while they saw that the successive of this sport should be done professionally. Then after a while, the cockiness disappeared. Aside from that, nobody believed that it would do well, and then here we are now. We're on the third, and we are going for the fourth URCC.
Why did you choose the ring instead of an octagon cage like in the UFC?
First, it's easier to watch the fights using the ring, and then second, when you use the cage, it becomes a contest of who can push the guy against the cage first. Once you push a guy against a cage, he can't do his techniques on the ground anymore, let's say you have a person in someone's guard, all you have to do is push him up the cage and he can't move. So it really becomes a contest of who can push whom to the cage first, so there's no technique there. That's another reason why I use the ring. Another is like what I've said; it's easier to watch people fighting in the ring than in a cage. And third, why does it have to be a cage? We're not animals, so we don't have to fight in a cage. It's a sport; you don't make people animals and put them in a cage and fight. It's just maybe aesthetically speaking it might look better for some people, but I'm sticking with the ring.
What do you think of the other MMA events that followed URCC?
Well of course they will always be playing catch up. For every successful project, there will always be imitators, but that's good. Even if there are imitators out there, it just makes the sport more and more well-known. So, I guess good for them.
Is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting really that dangerous?
It's just like any other sport because there is a certain element of danger. But if you really look at it, Boxing is more dangerous, because there have been so many people that died from Boxing. Also in Diving, Skydiving, in Football, and Soccer, the injuries are much more common than in MMA. To this date, there have been no deaths reported in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), not like other sports.
What about Douglas Dedge's fight in Russia?
When Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was sanctioned already by the governing bodies, there have been no reported deaths. Douglas Dedge, well, his story was that he's a boxer before, who was not supposed to be given a license again. Still knowing this, he went to Russia and fought anyway. And in Russia, that was an unsanctioned event by any sanctioning body, that's why they just let him fight. So now, all of the events have been sanctioned, and there have been no deaths.
The term "Underground Fighting" is somewhat misinterpreted due to issues of rumored deaths, your thoughts about this?
In the underground fights, the most I saw was someone who had a seizure because he had too many bumps on the head, I saw a guy choking on his own blood, but there's never anyone who died. When you say underground fights, that means fights in the dojos, and fights on the streets. So there are a lot of things that went really wrong, that is why I saw a need for this to be sanctioned, so that people can actually make it a sport, and not fight on the streets.
Have you fought underground or in any tournaments?
Yes definitely, as people know I've been in to at least eighty (80) to a hundred (100) of these underground fights. Sometimes it would involve multiple opponents, and sometimes it involves weapons. So yeah, I'm pretty much battle-scarred like everybody else. As for tournaments, I fought in the US, I fought in Brazil, and I'll be fighting overseas again soon. I've also got several medals as a result. Even after this accident happened to me, I'm still going to keep on competing.
I believe you went to the States to receive a "Man of the Year Award."
Yeah, the Universal Martial Arts Hall Of Fame (UMAHOF) gave me the "Man of the Year Award" for the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).
Can you give me a breakdown of all the martial arts that you have studied?
When I was younger, I was part of the AAK, and I took that from grade four (4) to first year. And between that, I took some Wrestling, and then I went on to take Sari-An, which I've become an instructor of. After Sari-An, I took Kali-Illustrisimo and Pekiti-Tirsia under Master Sixto Carlos. Later on with Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje, who personally gave me my plaque of instructorship in Pekiti-Tirsia. I'm the NCR & Youth Sports Director for Yaw-Yan; it was given to me by Grand Master Napoleon Fernandez himself. I wrestle, I box, I do Jiu-Jitsu, and I'm the Head Instructor here of Gracie Barra Academy directly under Kazeka Muniz. I was the first person to bring Gracie Jiu-Jitsu here in the Philippines, and I'm glad it's beginning to grow, and it's catching on because everyone is trying to do it. I just hope people do it responsibly and treat their students properly the way they're supposed to be treated.
I understand that you were involved in a shooting incident?
Yes, I got shot.
A lot of people want to ask, after what happened, were the gunmen ever captured?
Actually, I filed a case against them. The case is ongoing right now, and we'll see what happens. I'm not in liberty to mention their names.
So how are you now?
I'm fine; I'm about seventy (70) to eighty (80) percent of my normal self. I still haven't gained the weight I'm supposed to gain. There is still a lot of pain, because when the bullets hit, it hit a lot of nerves. And I have to work around with some pain, because I still have a bullet in my back.
What's next for the URCC's Founding President, are we going to see you fight in the near future?
Maybe no, not in the URCC, as long as my students are dominating there, I don't see any point of competing. I didn't make the URCC to promote myself; I made the URCC to promote Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). If I wanted to promote myself, I'll just match-up myself with these people. Then I'll go there and what? Wow astig si Alvin? But that's not it, I've had my time and I'm going on to greener pastures. I like to fight overseas, no more here in the Philippines. Or probably we could release some of my old fights on the net, so people could see how I fight. Maybe if I get to the circuit overseas where I want to, you will see me fight there, but in URCC I don't think I'll ever fight.
Who would you say is the best local Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter ever to date?
There are several people, I think in flyweight Richard Lasprilla is one of the best. We have Allan Co, who's up and coming, and Jerome Lepiten. Of course these are people from my camp, from the other camps we have the Boltong Ifugao guy, and a lot of Wushu people were very good. And I'm sure that if Marcus Valda from Wrestling will come in, he'd be dominating a lot of people. There are some names that escaped me, I'm sure there are a lot more good fighters out there. Louie Sangalang is up and coming also, he fought a very good fight. When you talk about Louie Sangalang, he's an inspiration for everybody, I mean he beat a colon cancer, then got in the ring and won. There are a lot of up and coming fighters actually; I just can't remember their names right now, because we just trained. (laughs)
Is a merge of competition possible for URCC like in UFC, Pride FC, and K-1?
What do you mean by merge of competition?
Let's say URCC Champions versus other MMA event champions.
Yeah sure, as long as they go in our event that's fine.
Who are we going to expect to fight for the main event of URCC-04?
Well there are a lot of names being thrown around, but for sure we'll give the fans what they want. The URCC held here is only for the fans, we do as much as we can to make the fans have the best fights. We don't jiff the fans. We only give the best fighters we can find. The best fighters out there, and we make sure that people have a good time. What we do is we also ensure the fighter's safety and everything in the process, we don't just let them go out and commit suicide, and it's not like that. We make sure that the fighter's safety is our utmost concern.
What is the future goal of URCC?
Well, the future goal of URCC is to bring our fighters to foreign soil, later on we will be putting a pull from the URCC Roster, and we will all train not as different groups, but as Filipinos. We'll train as Filipinos, because the fighters we'll send there regardless of their martial arts affiliation will be the ones representing our country. So we have to make sure that they'll do really well.
Do you have any message for those who are aspiring to become a mixed martial artist?
To become a mixed martial artist, all you have to do is just train. Train, train, and then whatever benefits you get, never let it get to your head. In Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), it's so hard to get there, once you get a little bit of recognition just like a lot of other people ... I've had so many other students who formed their own group. In Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), once you get a little bit of recognition, don't let it go in to your head, just keep on training, and then you'll go farther and farther. The key there is just training, nothing else, no egos, just training.
Thank you very much for the opportunity.