Putting the 'bad' in Fil-Aussie MMA fighter Michael Badato
Michael Badato
Putting the 'bad' in Fil-Aussie MMA fighter Michael Badato
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - August 18, 2020 - 1:56pm

MANILA, Philippines – When Filipino-Australian mixed martial arts fighter Michael Badato walks toward the cage for a fight, he wears this huge grin on his face while the music of Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen plays. People in the audience have a good laugh for such pop music isn’t common fare in the fight scene more so the sports landscape.

When Badato poses for pictures, it’s like there is this young kid trying to get out of his 34-year-old self as he makes faces and contorts himself in all sorts of hilarity.

Whether there is a method to his madness or not, when that bell rings — signifying that it’s time to fight — make no mistake, Badato wants to knock you out.

Michael Badato is perhaps the only Filipino-born overseas champion who isn’t a household name. After all, this New South Wales native fought in Thailand and emerged as an undefeated Caged Muay Thai champion, a World Kickboxing Federation champion, and an International Kick Boxing Federation champion.

Although he has struggled in the World Lethwei Championship (let’s face it, he was robbed in two of those matches that easily be chalked up to hometown decisions), Badato remains unperturbed in his desire to conquer this new arena.

My older brothers, Reinhardt and Von, were all many-time Muay Thai and Kickboxing champions and for Michael — 10 and three years younger respectively than his siblings — taking up the sport was a natural progression.

“To have two older brothers who were champions, it was normal for me to follow. I wasn’t forced to get into mixed martial arts,” said Michael. 

It was Reinhardt who was first bequeathed the sobriquet of “Badass” and it is one the two others brothers eventually inherited. 

“It’s kind of cool when people see us and they go, ‘there go the Badass Brothers,’” quipped the youngest brother. 

Michael was almost about to hang up his fighting gloves when an invite to participate in the World Lethwei Championship in Myanmar was extended to him. “My trainers gave me advice that I have this experience and gave me this extra push to fight more important battles.”

It was also extra motivation to fight with television coverage “instead of clubs and people’s back yards,” as Badato admitted. 

Badato has lost his three matches in WLC, including a pair of controversial losses to Burmese fighters Too Too and Saw Nga Man. “I won my (previous) titles by knocking people out. And I guess, I left it to the judges,” summed up Badato. 

He did knock down Saw Nga Man and continuously peppered him with shots to the face and body and yet, the hometown hero came away victorious via split decision last March 11; right before the world went into lockdown due to the covid-19 pandemic.

While there has more or less been a moratorium on many sports; combat sports in particular due to the virus, Badato has found use for his skills by being a personal trainer to Australians. 

“Why put up a gym, when we can make use of a park,” he said. “Besides, a physical structure at this time is overhead. Maybe in the future when things get better.”

Being a trainer and strength and conditioning coach has allowed Badato to leave his previous job as a security guard. “I had a day job and that hampered my training,” he revealed. “Reinhardt, who is my trainer, would call and ask, ‘where are you? Why aren’t you training?’ And I said, ‘I was at work.’”

Working as a trainer has allowed him to not only stay fit but work on his skills. Something he will need if and when combat sports are allowed.

With two kids and one more on the way, is there still some fight in him?

“Most definitely,” he says. “More so since his young daughter seems to have shown interest in fighting.”

Look out world, there is another Badass Badato on the way.

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