Happy accident

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


SOME are born fighters. Others try to become fighters but aren’t really cut out for it.

Trestel Tan’s story of being a pro MMA fighter, on the other hand, came by accident.

MMA wasn’t really on his mind. In fact, never in his wildest dreams was he thinking of becoming an MMA fighter.

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Tan, however, was an athletic kid, and he loved sports.

“I’m very active in sports – running, basketball, swimming, bike, rugby, bodybuilding competition. I have tried all of the competitions but I wasn’t satisfied,” Tan told Sun.Star Cebu.

Tan was born in Poog, Toledo. His father worked in the mining industry. But after the mine in Lutopan closed down, Tan, who was five years old at that time, and his family, moved to San Jose, Negros Occidental.

Tan went to school in Negros Occidental at University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) up until he was 16 when the mine there also closed down. He continued school in Cebu City at the University of Cebu (UC) Main campus as a Bachelor of Secondary Education student.

That was the beginning of his accidental MMA career, when he stumbled across the Yaw-Yan Ardigma Gym across his school in 2008.

“I went to school in UC at that time. I was going to have something photocopied but I saw some people training inside. It drew my interest and I suddenly enrolled,” said Tan, who was a student and at the same time a fitness instructor at Fitness First in Ayala Center Cebu. “When I was a kid, I really loved martial arts movies – Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Lee, (Jean-Claude) Van Damme, Steven Seagal. But there in the province there weren’t any martial arts (school) the only sport there was basketball.”

In 2011, Tan decided to quit school and took a job opportunity as a fitness instructor in Malaysia.

Though he had a decent job, his pay wasn’t enough to support his three boys aged 10, eight and six.

“It wasn’t part of my plan to compete because I felt that it was painful getting hit, until I arrived here. It was here that I decided to compete because my salary wasn’t enough and I had three children to support. At first, I didn’t care if I lost as long as I got paid. I didn’t expect to reach this level,” said Tan.

Tan, who trains out of REPS Fitness in Malaysia, has five fights as a pro MMA fighter under his belt. He has a 2-2-1 win-loss-draw record.

Last Saturday, the 29-year-old was impressive, scoring a first round technical knockout victory against Mahmoud Kamal in the main event of “Ultimate Beatdown 14” at the EduCity Iskandar in Johor Bahru in Malaysia. He landed a counter left hook that staggered Kamal across the cage and before he could unleash a flurry of heavy blows, the referee stopped the fight in the 1:48 mark.

With his MMA career at an all-time high, Tan has set his eyes on the prize, and that is to be able to fight in Asia’s grandest stage for MMA – the ONE FC.

“I’m proud to be a Cebuano fighter, actually as an OFW. It’s not easy to train especially away from your family. I fight as a sideline, for extra income to help my family. I’m looking forward to fight in the big arena, like the ONE FC,” said the full-time fitness trainer and part-time MMA fighter.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 18, 2014.

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