MANILA, Philippines – Newly-minted Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) flyweight champion Jenel Lausa became the fourth homegrown Filipino fighter to win a world title in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
Lausa, a 27-year-old native of Concepcion, Iloilo, captured the organization’s vacant flyweight championship with a split decision victory over compatriot Crisanto Pitpitunge in the main event of PXC 51 on Saturday, January 16.
The Guam-based promotion elevated its championship belts to world-title status in May 2013 and then unveiled a silver-plated belt etched with the words “World Champion” 4 months later.
According to PXC chief EJ Calvo, the change in the belt branding is due to the organization’s growth in the international MMA limelight and the inclusion of fighters from different countries.
“You can’t call it as a regional, Asian or Philippine championship. Fighters from different parts of the globe compete for these belts. That is the major reason why we call it now as world titles,” he said.
Calvo also stressed that PXC’s move to world-title status is retroactive as previous titleholders will be recognized as former world champions.
Unlike in boxing, there is no single governing body in professional MMA, which recognizes the sport's athletes as world champions.
Various media outlets hailed Honorio Banario as the first Philippine-rooted competitor to claim a huge prize in MMA when he defeated fellow Filipino stalwart Eric Kelly for the inaugural ONE Championship featherweight title in February 2013.
However, the late Ale Cali won the PXC flyweight belt a year before Banario’s championship conquest as he routed Jesse Taitano via third-round stoppage in February 2012.
It was followed by Pitpitunge, who was enshrined as the PXC bantamweight champion when he knocked out Justin “The Shocker” Cruz in June 2012.
Meanwhile, Banario had the ONE featherweight title in his hands with a fourth-round technical knockout against Kelly.
“It’s good to correct history, especially in this sport,” Calvo stated.
Lausa replicated the feat when he grabbed a razor-thin decision triumph against Pitpitunge, who was aiming to become the first two-division Filipino MMA world champion.
“I still can’t believe it. It was a dream that came true. I am now a champion,” Lausa quipped.
Hawaii-based veteran Harris Sarmiento became the first MMA prizefighter with a Filipino heritage to win a world title when he submitted Ronnie Borja with a fourth-round armbar to bag the PXC lightweight championship in August 2011.
Robbie Lawler attained the same accomplishment in December 2014 when he dethroned Johny Hendricks for the UFC welterweight title by way of split decision.
On the other hand, Brandon Vera crowned himself as the first ONE heavyweight champion by shutting the lights off on late-replacement Paul Cheng with a head kick this past December.