MANILA, Philippines – Filipino fighter Jenel Lausa seeks to conclude his 2016 calendar on a high note through a decisive victory against China’s Yao Zhikui in his first Octagon appearance as part of the undercard of UFC Fight Night Manila 2 on October 15.
The 28-year-old native of Concepcion, Iloilo, started his year with a title-clinching performance by capturing the vacant Pacific Xtreme Combat flyweight championship against compatriot Crisanto Pitpitunge in January.
Lausa, who recently inked a multi-fight exclusive deal with the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, is aiming to close out his year by attaining a huge victory in his first assignment as a UFC competitor. (READ: UFC-bound Jenel Lausa credits MMA success to 3-year PXC stint)
“I don’t know if this will be my last fight for this year, but I am looking to make a statement. It’s my first fight in the UFC and second pro fight in 2016. A big win will spark a strong momentum in my journey in this great organization,” he told Rappler.
Many cageside observers have pegged Lausa as the favorite to win the 3-round flyweight contest against Yao as he is riding high on a 4-fight winning streak.
In the other corner, Yao has been out of action since November 2015 when he tasted a 44-second stoppage loss to Freddy Serrano due to an arm injury.
Furthermore, the 25-year-old Chinese combatant has only won once in his last 3 UFC cage outings, owning a split decision triumph over Filipino-American standout Nolan Ticman in May 2015.
Even though his opponent is coming off a long layoff, Lausa tries his best to avoid a complacent mindset as he does not want Yao to spoil his UFC debut.
“I don’t want to sit here and be relaxed. It’s my first UFC fight, and I don’t want him to take that winning moment away from me. My mind is focused on getting that first UFC win. That’s why I’m pushing myself to the limit in training,” he said.
Meanwhile, there is a stark contrast in both men’s respective prizefighting records: Lausa holds a 6-2 win-loss slate, while Yao has a dreary 2-3 standing.
In a constantly-evolving sport like MMA, Lausa elucidated that there are instances when fight records do not accurately determine which fighter gets the advantage.
“Even if he doesn’t have that good record, he managed to pull off an upset against a Filipino last year. I need to be careful. He’s going in there to fight and win. Records sometimes don’t translate,” he said
When asked for a prediction for his encounter versus Yao, Lausa replied: “If an opportunity to finish him presents itself, I will go for it. If not, I will make sure to win in decisive fashion.” – Rappler.com
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