With the likes of the current champion Jang Yong Kim, plus Takumi Nakayama, Mark Striegl, Rolando Dy, and other promising featherweights from the Asia-Pacific region, the PXC featherweight division has proven itself both strong and deep. PXC featherweight alumnus Joe Taimanglo now competes for the title in Bellator. Other PXC divisions also have launched fighters into the big leagues, with Jon Tuck, Hyun Gyu Lim, and Dustin Kimura all being signed to the UFC.
Another fighter aims to make it to the UFC via PXC. Possibly the tallest featherweight fighter in the world, Will “The Kill” Chope, hopes to be the PXC Featherweight Champion and dreams to be the next UFC fighter coming out of the Guam-based MMA promotion. The former URCC Featherweight Champion made his debut last Friday, October 25th at PXC 40 in Guam against a seasoned veteran, Takumi Nakayama, the current Featherweight King Of Pancrase.
Said Chope on his debut, “It was a tough fight. Takumi is a legend. I really wanted to come out strong and make a statement, But Takumi made that difficult for me. It was a back n forth battle and I am just happy I came out on top in the third.”
The 6’4″ Chope utilized his striking early in the opening round to keep his opponent within his striking distance. But the Japanese was resilient and used his experience to take the fight to the ground where he almost caught Chope with a D’arce choke, but Chope defended it very well. The opening round ended with Takumi on top of the American fighter.
Chope flashed back to that decisive moment, “The D’arce in the first he had on me was really uncomfortable. If he repositioned he might have had a chance to finish it, so I knew I had to explode out of it when I did so I wouldn’t get in a worse situation.”
Nakayama overwhelmed Chope with hard punches in the early moments of the second round, throwing blows at his taller foe. But Chope’s Muay Thai expertise helped him to hold on and negate Nakayma’s aggressiveness.
About his near knock down, Chope says, “Only thing I was thinking was, ‘really?’ And then I thought to myself ‘he got me good’. I was kind of shocked he tagged me. Then I thought ‘okay, clinch, clinch, I have to use my Thai clinch to try and recover’.”
Chope really prepared for Nakayama because he knew that the Japanese fighter would not be not an easy task to finish. His game did tremendously improve since his last fight and he looked so much hungrier than ever before against Takumi.
On the changes to his style, Chope remarked, “The biggest factor on that win was my top control. I have been working my wrestling so much with Mark Striegl and AJ Pyro for this camp and my top control in the second after I got rocked, and in the third, helped me get the finish.”
“The Kill” is motivated to win the PXC Featherweight title and he has already started his trip to the top by taking out Nakayama in his debut. The win over Nakayama is by far the biggest win of his career. He was not expected to win, much less finish the Pancrase Champion. Being called the underdog every time he fights gives Chope the drive to push himself to the limit and become a better fighter.
Chope laughed, “I just want people to keep underestimating me to be honest; it works in my favor that way.”
After his impressive win at PXC 40, Chope talked to PXC CEO and Promoter EJ Calvo and stated that he wants Saipan’s Fasi Jesse as his next opponent.
Said Chope, “I asked EJ after the fight if I could avenge one of my early career losses against Fasi Jesse from Saipan, so I hope that fight happens next.”
Chope wished to thank the team around him which pushed him into a successful first performance in PXC, “Thanks to everyone who helped me in this fight camp, Team Buffet, BTS, all my coaches. And also huge shout out to my sponsors FIGHTLAB Phuket, Phuket Pro Nutrition, and Vicious Circle.”