Filipino Pacific X-treme Combat fighter Rolando Gabriel Dy will have a chance to get his first MMA title as he goes head-to-head with Kyle Aguon in Guam at PXC 45 for the vacant Bantamweight Title on October 24, 2014.
Dy is known for being a powerful and technical fighter. He is on a three-fight winning streak including his first round armbar victory over Arex Montalban and a unanimous victories over top featherweight contender Kyle Reyes and previously undefeated South Korean prospect Han Bin Park.
Becoming a champion has been his dream since he was a kid. Growing up seeing his dad, Rolando Navarrete, fighting and becoming a world champion in boxing became a huge influence for his fighting career. The 23-year-old Dy has been preparing vigorously for this golden chance; there are times where he travels two to three hours a day, everyday, just to cross-train with different gyms in the Philippines to polish his skills.
Fighting Aguon for the PXC Featherweight title and winning it in Guam would be big for Dy, as it will attest that he is one of the finest fighters in the region. But he will be against a guy who’s already fought some of the best in the bantamweight division, Aguon, who will enjoy a slight reach and height advantage over himself. Aguon is a powerful wrestler who always seek to take his opponent to the ground and has tremendous control of his opponent in the clinch.
This fight with Dy will be Aguon’s second attempt at PXC gold. The first one didn’t go his way; he was defeated by now UFC-signed Michinori Tanaka by unanimous decision at PXC 40 last October of 2013.
The PXC Featherweight Championship between Dy and Aguon will one of the most anticipated matches of the night as the two are a couple of the most technical and physical fighters in the Guam-based promotion.
MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Dy ahead of his title contest on dropping to bantamweight, how his father inspired his fighting career, and how he balances university studies with full-time training.
MMA-in-ASIA: First of all, can you talk us through your decision to move down to the bantamweight division? What made you decide to go down to 135 pounds even though you’re doing great at the 145 weight class?
Rolando Dy: I felt that I’m much stronger in 135 compared to 145. I had speed when I was a featherweight but my opponents were bigger and physically stronger than me; also the current champion, Jang Yong Kim, he is a massive featherweight. So I thought it is okay to suffer at the sauna than in the fight. (Laughs)
MMA-in-ASIA: You put on a masterful performance in your PXC debut against Han Bin Park. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Rolando Dy: I was not satisfied with my performance against Park. I entered the cage not confident with my striking because I remembered what he did to Pitpitunge, that’s why I did not really use my striking against him that night. Instead, I used my strength to win that fight. But if I had confidence in my striking, I would have finished him early. Also, the weight cut took toll on me that night. It was my first time fighting at 135 and my body felt kind of weird that night.
MMA-in-ASIA: Some say your title shot came very early after winning only one fight as a bantamweight. What can you say about this issue?
Rolando Dy: I am not bragging but I think it’s just fair for me to fight for the Bantamweight title. I won three consecutive fights against three undefeated opponents in Montalban, Reyes, and Park. Who else I should defeat to prove to them that I deserve this title fight?
MMA-in-ASIA: How are you feeling right now, a few weeks before one of the biggest fight of your career?
Rolando Dy: Honestly, I don’t know if I’m ready as of this moment because I feel like I don’t have much time to train full time because of my studies. But as they say, I am ready. I’ll know if I’m fully ready two weeks before the fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: Can you share a bit about your preparations for this fight?
Rolando Dy: I’ve been training in three different gyms as usual, travelling just to get to Team Insider Gym, KMA, and Cavite Top Team. I am honing my skills on all aspects of the game. I don’t want to come up short in a fight. I want to be ready come fight night; wherever the fight goes, I’ll be ready.
MMA-in-ASIA: Your game has evolved tremendously over the past couple of years. PXC fans have witnessed your growth as a fighter and your game’s improvement. Who or what is your biggest motivation every time you’re in the gym preparing for a fight?
Rolando Dy: The UFC contract that I want to get the most is my biggest inspiration. I am thinking about it every time I feel like giving up in training, especially during sprints which always make my tongue go out because of exhaustion.
MMA-in-ASIA: You’re likely not looking past Aguon, but if you get the belt next month, do you have any plans on going back to 145 pounds and becoming a two division PXC champion?
Rolando Dy: Yes. Why not? But Kyle Aguon is my main focus right now. By God’s grace, if I won this fight and get the belt, I will go back to 145 to face those fighters who are challenging me there.
MMA-in-ASIA: You’re taking up a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies and are having a super tough schedule from your thesis while preparing for a title fight. How do you balance your time for school and training?
Rolando Dy: It’s so hard to balance my studies and preparations for my title fight. But by God’s grace I can do this. I don’t even have the idea why in spite of my busy schedule at school, I am still balancing it with my training. But my studies are not and never will be the reason for me to be a weak fighter. I do have time to train and I think it’s just enough to prepare to get my belt.
MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve trained with Team Lakay’s Mark Eddiva and Eduard Folayang at KMA over the past weeks. How was it training with them?
Rolando Dy: I really enjoy training with them. It gives me extra confidence coming to this fight against Aguon because I train with them. They are really nice people. I think strength wise, I am at Eduard and Mark’s level, so it means facing Aguon won’t be that much of a problem for me.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have any message to Kyle Aguon?
Rolando Dy: You had your chance.
MMA-in-ASIA: Any people or sponsors you want to thank?
Rolando Dy: Thank you to my uncle, for providing everything that I need for the fight preparations. Thank you to all of my coaches: coach Aplicador in Biagtan, Coach Ali Heydarabadi, Coach Stephen, teammates in Biagtan, CTT, KMA Insiders, Laguna Boys – Ordiz, Bergantinos and Montilla, and friends and family. Laban Pinas!
The original version of this interview was published in September, 2014.