This appears on philstar.com
There’s no method to Eugene Toquero’s (hair) madness.
He’s just wants to knock people out.
by rick olivares
Mixed Martial Arts is serious business. It’s a blood sport that requires tough and skilled men and women who are in the business of laying the big hurt on you so you have to do it to them before they do it to you.
But who says you cannot be a bad ass and be an entertainer at the same time? It’s a shtick that’s worthy of the WWE but for Cebuano fighter Eugene Toquero believes entertainment is making people laugh and have a good time before knocking foes out.
Any mention of the 5’5” Cebuano will ultimately lead to his hair grooming where he reportedly spends an inordinate amount of time getting it right. Whenever he makes an entrance to a fight, he can always be seen fixing his hair while walking towards the cage.
Toquero is at the ONE FC: Rise of Heroes (May 2 at the SM MOA Arena) press conference at the atrium of the Mall of Asia. His foe, Gianni Subba (3-0-0) is also in attendance. A reporter likened Subba to a K-Pop star because of his youngish looks but the Malaysian wrestler is as bad as they come in terms of MMA. Subba is 3-0-0 in the ONE FC and made a name for himself with a stunning debut where he decked Singaporean favorite Bruce Loh with a left hook then finished him off with a nasty soccer kick.
Yet in spite of Subba’s spotless fight record, Toquero is confident he will come away victorious.
After the media horde was done interviewing the MMA fighters at the press conference, I sidled up to the Cebuano hoping to catch him in a more somber if not disarmed mood.
Was his levity all part of disarming his foes or a strategy in easing the pressure? After all, Toquero was 4-0-0 coming into ONE FC after a successful spell over at rival Pacific Xtreme Combat when he faced Geje Eustaquio last December’s Moment of Truth.
In that fight, Toquero thrilled the crowd with his pre-fight antics but after three rounds of rollicking action, “Gravity” – both the natural phenomenon that causes physical objects to fall when dropped from heights and Eustaquio who goes by that nickname – did the rest. Toquero suffered his first loss by unanimous decision.
I recounted to Toquero how Eustaquio, in his ONE FC debut at Rise to Power hammed it up for the fans and the cameras during a fight with Andrew Leone and ultimately lost via unanimous decision. Will the Cebuano take Subba seriously?
Earlier, he drew guffaws from the media and fans when he revealed that he likes to finish off his fights in the first round so as not to mess up his hair. “Ganyan din ako kay Subba… uupakan ko siya,” he promised. “Yung aking pagpapatawa – gusto ko lang ma-entertain ang mga tao.”
“Mahirap ang buhay. So kailangan positive yung approach mo. Minsan wala tayong magawa sa mga sitwasyon na mahirap kung hindi hintayin natin kung anong mangyayari. Kesyo isip ka ng isip at kukunot yung noo mo eh tumawa na lang tayo.”
Toquero named American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter Cain Velasquez as his idol. “All out action si Velasquez. Sugod lang. Jab. Strike. Sipa. Relentless. Patay kung patay. Yun ang style na nag-appeal sa akin.”
Of the match against Subba come May 2, he sounded certain of victory.
“Oo naman,” he enthused. “Ngayon, yung buong arena ay kakampi sa akin. Nung Disyembre, hati yung crowd kasi Pilipino laban sa Pilipino.”
Earlier, he said aloud that he his only strategy against Subba was to take it to him from the opening bell. Was he serious? Wasn’t he a bit wary given that the Malaysian has serious knockout power? “Hindi lang naman siya ang marunong magpatulog ng kalaban. Specialty din natin yan. Syempre, pinanood ko yung mga laban niya. Meron siyang striking. Meron siyang wrestling skills. Kailangan ako yung aggressor para masira diskarte niya.”
Was Toquero not the bit least concerned that Subba has a good wrestling base? The lack of grappling skills has been the bane of many a Filipino fighter.
“Kapag bumagsak kami sa table ay tulog na siya.”
The short interview concluded, one female media person asked if she could touch Toquero’s hair. And just as he said when ONE FC CEO Victor Cui tried to do the same during the press conference, the Filipino MMA fighter playfully recoiled and said, “Oh, no! Don’t touch my hair. I’m like Samson.”
The reporter laughed.
Toquero just smiled.
It’s all part of the show.