Pañales advances, Almanza out of Road to UFC

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Pañales advances, Almanza out of Road to UFC
John Almanza loses to India's Angat Bisht in the first round of Road to the UFC.

MANILA, Philippines – When John Dave Almanza noted that what Filipino mixed martial arts fighters needed was high level exposure to bouts and top facilities, he was prescient.

Ranged against fellow Indian flyweight Angat Bisht in Road to the UFC at the Shanghai Performance Institute last Sunday, May 19, it was like comparing a bicycle to a tank of which Bisht was built like.

Road to the UFC is a “win and advance” tournament that will take top MMA prospects from Asia and give them a pathway to a UFC contract.

The fight was over at the 3:39 mark of the first round via technical knockout as the 20-year-old Filipino succumbed to the Indian’s powerful strikes. It was Almanza’s first loss in seven matches and it was his first international fight as well.

Compatriot Ruel Pañales, on the other hand, got a free pass to the second round as his flyweight opponent, Japanese fighter Toki Matsui was ruled ineligible to fight as he weighed in over the flyweight limit.

Pañales advances to the second round of a date that will be confirmed. He is the second Filipino to advance to the second round after Mark Climaco turned the trick in Season Two of Road to the UFC. Unfortunately for Climaco, his ride ended there. 

Of the six Filipinos who competed since this tournament began two years ago, much now rides on Peñales shoulders.

The Road to the UFC was televised live in the Philippines on streaming application Blast TV and the Premier Sports Channel on Sky Cable and Cignal. 

The next big UFC event is UFC 302, which is scheduled for Sunday, June 2. Dustin Poirier (30-8-0) takes on lightweight champion Islam Makhachev (25-1-0) in the main event. In the co-main event, Sean Strickland (28-6-0) battles Paulo Costa (14-3-0) in a middleweight match.

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