Like many of ONE Championship’s Filipino stars, Dave “Kintas” Bangguigui hails from the mountains of the Cordilleras and calls Baguio City his home.
That said, he wants to prove that there are more gyms in the region aside from their highly touted Team Lakay neighbors in La Trinidad.
Bangguigui represents Fight Corps MMA, a squad that he’s been with from his time in the local circuits up to his ONE debut when he defeated BJJ black belt Marcus Paulo Amaral at ONE Friday Fights 14 on 28 April inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
For Bangguigui, it’s all about setting an example to his younger teammates that they, too, can make it big in the world of combat sports.
“Everyone I know here in Fight Corps MMA are relatively new to the sport. We have a couple of seasoned boxers training here, too. But in MMA, they’re still getting their way around it,” he said.
“We encourage each other to train hard and work for one another. Like what you said earlier, we’re fighting on the big stage now. It might be a little easier now to get more fights soon.”
Bangguigui’s debut on ONE’s global stage following an impressive two-fight run on “Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series” (OWS) will definitely be big for his team, especially with ONE putting on its weekly “Friday Fights” series.
The 26-year-old shared that there were offers for him to compete for other gyms, but he opted to stick with his squad.
“I really did get offers to join other camps since they can guarantee me fights and whatever. Others even asked me why I didn’t just join this other team. It’s very easy to do that, but for me, I can’t leave the ones who built me up,” he said.
“I can see them doing their best to help us fighters. I’m not built that way. From the very first day I entered their gym, they taught me everything that I know in martial arts. I’m way too loyal to them.”
Loyalty seems to be Bangguigui’s core principle, as after his head-turning run through OWS, there were offers for him to compete in the Middle East. However, Bangguigui’s eyes have always been on ONE, and with an impressive win over Amaral, he’s right on track.
“My dream [was] to compete in ONE Championship, if we’re being honest. Even though it took me quite a while to get here, I decided to take my chances and wait for them to offer me a fight,” he said.
“I didn’t give up at all because being a fighter is my dream. I just had to do everything in my power to finally make it, despite the adversity. There’s a saying here in the Philippines: ‘If you really want it, there’s a way.’”