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Filipino fighter Jenel Lausa promises 'demolition' at UFC 210

MANILA Philippines – Last November, a 28-year-old Filipino fighter opened the preliminary fight card for UFC Fight Night 101, in Melbourne, Australia. His name is Jenel Lausa, and although he hails from a nation that embraces combat sports, few of his compatriots witnessed his triumphant big league debut because of broadcast limitations.

Lausa is set for an octagon return on Saturday, April 8 (April 9 Manila time) against undefeated submission specialist, Magomed Bibulatov of Grozny, Chechnya on the preliminary fight card of UFC 210: Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson 2, which takes place at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.

Lausa (MMA record 7-2) isn't bothered by the fact that no man has previously beaten his opponent, who brings a 13-0 record into his UFC debut. “Dudungisan ko po record niya,” he boldly declared. “Yung pagkapanalo natin asahan nila yun,” says Lausa.

(“I will taint his record,” he boldly declared. “They should expect me to win,” says Lausa.)

A fighter outside of the cage

During his high school years, Lausa started training as a boxer at the age of 16 when he aspired to follow boxing mega-star Manny Pacquiao’s footsteps to win his biggest bout of all time – against poverty. 

Siguro magagaya ko rin yung nagawa ni Manny [Pacquiao]. Parang naging inspirasyon siya sakin,” Lausa told Rappler.

(I was thinking I could also do what Manny [Pacquiao] had done. He has been an inspiration to me.)

Lausa (L) is one of 11 siblings from Concepcion, Iloilo. File photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

Lausa (L) is one of 11 siblings from Concepcion, Iloilo.

File photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

Lausa was raised in a family of 3, with 10 siblings - 5 brothers and 5 sisters. Back in his hometown of Concepcion in Iloilo province, his father had worked as a coconut farmer while his mother sold kakanin, or rice pastries to sustain their large family’s needs. 

As a teenager, Jenel also worked as farmer, a fisherman and also went into caregiving in order to get by. “Todo kayod kasi syempre sa province sobrang hirap dun. Nagpupursige talaga na magsikap para may pangkain sa araw araw,” Lausa recounted.

(We worked so hard because life in the province is very difficult. Every day we were persevering so that we may have something to eat.)

Taking the rough road

Lausa fought 57 amateur boxing bouts before making his professional MMA debut at the URCC “Bacolod Brawl” fight card in 2011. It was not long until he caught the attention of current ONE Championship fighter Rene Catalan, who invited Jenel to join his team. Focused on becoming successful as a fighter, Lausa moved to Manila where he trained full time with team Catalan.

However, Jenel had thoughts of quitting MMA after he felt like he would not make a decent living out of cage fighting. It took 3 months until he decided to work as a trainer at Team Insider Gym in Makati, where he met his wife Hanna, who was his student in Muay Thai class. “Bale studyante ko lang sya dati, nagka-developan,” Lausa shared.

(She was my student then our relationship developed into something else.) 

Lausa believes that he owes his success to his wife for it was Hanna who convinced him to go back to fighting. “Siya nga ang inspirasyon ko eh,” Lausa stated. 

(She is my inspiration.)

He then signed with Guam-based MMA promotion Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC), where he became flyweight champion after beating Team Lakay’s Crisanto Pipitunge in January of 2016. Six months later, Lausa, who remains unbeaten in pro boxing at 7-0 (4 knockouts), won the Philippine Boxing Federation (PBF) interim super bantamweight title, making him a titleholder in two separate sports simultaneously.

Making it to the big leagues 

The year got even better when it was announced last September that Lausa had signed with the UFC. He made his debut in Australia where he defeated Chinese combatant Zhikui Yao by a 3-round decision.

Lausa admitted that he refused to take the first offer that UFC had made for him. “Nung bandang September tinawagan ako ng UFC kung okay ba sakin na lumaban ako sa  the Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Yung unang tawag nila sa akin hindi ko kinuha,” Lausa told Rappler. 

(Around September I got a call from UFC and they were asking if I want to join the Ultimate Fighter [TUF]. I did not take that first offer.)

He believed his fighting skills would be an asset to the company and he’d find a way there, still. “Alam ko na makukuha ako ng UFC na diretso na, hindi na ko dadaan sa Ultimate Fighter kasi champion po ako,” Lausa said and he was right.

(I know that UFC will still sign me even if I won’t join the Ultimate Fighter because I’m a champion.)

This time around, Lausa’s Filipino supporters and fans around the world will get a chance to see “The Demolition Man” in action for free, as UFC Asia will broadcast the preliminary fights live via Facebook beginning at 6:15 am Manila time. “Yung gustong makapanood, makakanood na. So, magandang opportunity na binigay ng UFC Asia satin na [yung laban] maging nasa Facebook Live,” said the Filipino flyweight. 

(Those who would like to watch will be able to. So, it is a good opportunity given by UFC Asia that my fight will be on Facebook Live.) 

Sana supportahan nyo ang coming fight ko at ipag-pray nyo po ako sa laban na yun na maging safe tayo,” Lausa called out to his fellow Filipinos. “At sana yayain nyo yung mga kaibigan nyo na kung di pa nila alam yung MMA, manood kayo sa Facebook Live para makita nyo yung fight,” he added. 

(“I hope you support me on my coming fight and pray for me so that I will be safe,” Lausa called out to his fellow Filipinos. “And I also hope you tell your friends who do not watch MMA to watch on Facebook Live too, so that you will see me fight,” he added.)

Asked why he feels so confident on his upcoming fight, he simply answered, “Syempre ‘Demolition’ tayo eh.”  

(Of course, I am ‘Demolition.’) –