Ruel Pañales girds for Road to UFC 2nd round battle

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Ruel Pañales girds for Road to UFC 2nd round battle
Ruel Pañales (left) with Indian-Briton fighter Kiru Sahota. The two will battle in the flyweight semifinals of the Road to UFC this coming August.

MANILA, Philippines – You can train all you want. But nothing will prepare you for the actual fight.

Ruel Pañales earned a first-round bye and advantage when his Road to UFC opponent, Toki Matsui, was disqualified for not making his weight cut prior to their match.

Although Pañales has had four previous international fights, none were of the scope, top class and magnitude of the UFC. Watching Filipino compatriot John Dave Almanza lose a little over a minute into his own fight against Indian Angat Bisht, it left him with precious time to prepare both physically and mentally.

“Gusto ko makakuha ng UFC contract,” said Pañales in an interview. “Lalo ako na-inspire sa experience ko. Kakaiba sila sa lahat ng linabanan ko sa ibang bansa.”

They treat each fighter like a VIP, walang bata-bata system. Lahat pantay tapos lahat ng hahanapin mo mula sa fighting garments at kung ano pa ay nandiyan para sa lahat ng fighter.”

Pañales will take on Indian Kiru Singh Sahota, who earned a split-decision victory over Chinese fighter Yin Shuai. 

Although Indian, Sahota hails from Huddersfield, England, where the 28-year-old is 11-2.

“Kaya naman,” Ruel noted of his upcoming semifinals fight against Sahota. “Huwag lang maging overconfident at mawalan ng kumpiyansa. Train extra hard as always.”

The second round or semifinals is scheduled some time in August either in Singapore or China once more.

Road to a UFC is a three-round tournament where the winner of each weight class automatically receives a UFC contract. 

In the three-year history of the tournament, four of the six Filipino fighters exited after the first round. None have gone to the finals. 

“Pagkakataon ito,” promised Pañales.

Road to UFC is televised on local television on the Premier Sports Channel on Sky Cable and Cignal as well as the streaming application Blast TV, which is the regular carrier of UFC fights.

The next UFC event scheduled is UFC 302, which will be on June 2, with Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier battling it out for the lightweight gold and Sean Strickland taking on Paul Costa in a middleweight match.

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