Mixed Martial Arts has seen a substantial growth in both reach and awareness among Filipinos during the past three years. And with it comes the increase in aspiring mixed martial artists.
So when ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera (15-7, 1NC) pitched to Alliance MMA head coach George Castro that he wanted to start a gym in his home country, Castro immediately jumped on board.
“Knowing that he wanted to start a gym here in the Philippines, he asked me to help him,” Castro told Tiebreaker Times. “Seeing the talent here in the Philippines, it’s a great honor for me to be part in one of the growing sports here.
“I’ve been getting familiar with Philippine MMA a little bit more. I don’t think that it’s a big sport here three years ago. So now that it’s becoming more mainstream, it’s getting bigger every day, every month, and every year.”
Though the ground has yet to be broken for the new gym, a location has already been selected, as Okada Manila in Parañaque will host them. Moreover, the California-based team already have concrete plans for what they want to emphasize with the team.
First is the focus on conditioning.
“Conditioning. I’m Mexican heritage so I always said I compare Mexican fighters to Filipino fighters. We have all the talent in the world but if you don’t work on your conditioning to follow it, you can never be a world champion,” Castro shared.
“Always, the better conditioned fighter will win.”
Another facet of mixed martial arts they want to focus on is wrestling. The grappling aspect of the game is one of the forgotten arts in Philippine MMA, as wrestling is a sport that is still in its infancy in the country.
“We’re going to bring in world-class wrestlers as well, bring in coaches from Alliance MMA in California. I will be rotating them and bring in some of the top names in the sport for a few weeks then bring them back,” Castro furthered.
“Wrestling will be one of the strongest points of our team.”
Currently the eastern-side of Alliance have Vera, Filipino-American AJ Matthews (8-6), and Bernard Soriano (3-3) in its stable. Castro though is in no rush to add more bodies to the stable.
“As of right now, I’m going to be very particular on who I pick in the team. But I won’t be having strict rules. As long as you give me a hundred percent and always be on time, you’re good,” Castro shared.
“I want to build the best team in the Philippine and in Asia so I’m going to have a strict regimen, I’m going to want guy or girls who want to be on the top level.
“Right now, we have AJ, we have Burn, and Brandon, there’s going to be a few more guys. Hopefully when the gym gets built in a few months, we’ll have a tryout. We’ll see then,” he furthered.
And if they can maintain this vision, it won’t be impossible for them to reach their goal of becoming the premier camp in Asia.