Every year, numerous Filipinos leave their homeland in search of greener pastures abroad, with the goal of getting a decent job to provide their families with comfortable lives.
With the idea of better opportunities in other countries, many take the risk. In exchange for money, they trade separation from their family and loved ones, and often, even their dreams.
Richard Corminal is no different from a regular overseas Filipino worker, having given up his dream of becoming a mixed martial arts athlete in order to give his household a better life.
Corminal had always wanted to be an MMA fighter, since he had watched the exciting sport on television during its renaissance in the early 2000’s.
“When I saw an MMA bout for the first time, I got hooked. It was exciting, and it’s something different. There are a lot of options to win and weapons to utilize,” he recalled.
“From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be an MMA fighter.”
His obsession with MMA led him to learn the martial art of Muay Thai, which served as his basic foundation.
Corminal was on his way to becoming an MMA fighter when he was forced to leave the Philippines to work abroad to be his family’s breadwinner.
“It was a tough decision to make, but I have a family to support. They are my top priority. I chose to work abroad and try to give them a good life,” Corminal shared.
Corminal took the job of a Muay Thai trainer at MuayFit, which is one of the premier MMA gyms in Malaysia.
Slowly, Corminal relinquished his dream of becoming a professional MMA competitor and became content in being a Muay Thai instructor at MuayFit.
However, the gym proprietor whom he worked for took notice of his exceptional talent and gave him a new lease to revive and fulfill his dream.
“MuayFit gave me the chance to fulfill my dream to become an MMA fighter. I’m so grateful for that opportunity,” Corminal said.
Starting his MMA journey
When Corminal got into intensive training, it was not a walk in the park for him because there were numerous martial arts disciplines that he needed to master due to the multi-faceted aspect of MMA.
Even though Corminal bit the bullet with every test, the people around him did not repress to lend their helping hands.
Corminal trained with ONE Championship athletes such as Eric and Edward Kelly, who once worked as trainers at MuayFit and represented the Malaysian MMA training facility in their respective bouts.
Moreover, his growth as a cage combatant was developed with the assistance of other Philippine MMA household names and MuayFit teammates like Rolando Gabriel Dy and Carlo Laurel, as well as the father-and-son duo of Raysaldo and Fritz Biagtan.
“It was difficult as expected, but I wanted to be an MMA fighter so bad. I chose to endure. I kept on telling myself that pain is temporary. I just pushed harder every single day,” Corminal said about the grueling phase of his formation.
Corminal made his first professional MMA stint in October 2012, winning against an experienced Malaysian fighter by way of second-round stoppage.
Since his maiden foray into the sport, Corminal has never looked back, and has cemented his position as one of the top prospects in the Southeast Asian region.
The 35-year-old Filipino lightweight standout currently holds a win-loss slate of 4-1, with all of his career victories to date coming by way of knockout.
His success in minor MMA leagues served as his footstool to be noticed by ONE Championship, which is widely recognized as Asia’s largest MMA organization.
Corminal is set to make his ONE Championship debut against Thai mainstay Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai in the co-headliner of ONE Championship: Warrior Kingdom, which takes place at the 12,000-capacity Impact Arena in Bangkok Thailand on Saturday, March 11.
According to Corminal, being part of ONE Championship’s burgeoning roster of world-class athletes is the culmination of the hard work and dedication that he invested to be an MMA fighter.
“I am so happy. The feeling is like winning an MMA title. ONE Championship is the biggest promotion in Asia, and to be part of it, it’s truly an honor. Everything that I did in training is all worth it because I’ve made it here,” he stated.
If he previously only imagined to be an MMA fighter, now Corminal will see how far he has gone in the sport as he shares the ONE Championship cage with Wiratchai.
“I was only dreaming of this moment before. Now, I am here. I see my upcoming fight as a test and an opportunity to know my level as a competitor in this constantly-evolving sport,” he asserted.
Although it took years before he saw his dream turn into reality, Corminal chose to hold on to it.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
“Keeps your dreams alive because all things are possible.”