Historically opportunities for 115 lbs fighters have been few and far between, but there are signs that this is slowly changing which is good news for Jhaymie Gayman.
The Filipino is 1-0 and is hoping that Thailand’s Full Metal Dojo will give him the platform to succeed in the sport.
He made his pro debut at FMD 3 and took less than one round to finish an undefeated Thai opponent. The 21-year-old will be back in action again this Saturday when he faces Do Meng in Bangkok. The Cambodian does not have a record listed but Gayman knows he is taking on an opponent with plenty of experience.
“He is 2-1 in MMA and 12-1 in boxing so I know he is going to be tough but I trained well for our fight.”
Being small has its disadvantages. Not only are opportunities in MMA few and far between, but success in certain other sports is practically impossible as Gayman discovered to his cost.
“I have competed in soccer and basketball. When I was in high school I tried out for varsity basketball, but they didn’t pick me because of my height, that’s when my neighbor invited me to train in martial arts,” he saya.
Being snubbed by his high school basketball team set Gayman on a path he is still following to this day.
“I started martial arts when I was 13-years-old. My friends from our neighborhood just invited me to train Muay Thai and as the days went by I started to love it.”
Gayman hails from Baguio which has proven to be a breeding ground for mixed martial artists. The likes of Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Eric Kelly and Geje Eustaquio are all fighting out of the small city nestled in the Cordilleran mountains and he believes it’s no coincidence that the region produces so many successful fighters.
“In Baguio you find a different breed of warriors and Cordillerans are born warriors. Besides Baguio is a great place for training.”
The likes of Folayang, Belingon and Eustaquio all came out of the legendary Team Lakay but Gayman says it is far from the only training camp in the city.
“I am at Fightcorps MMA, before I used to train with Mark Striegl but he left to join Evolve MMA in Singapore so now I’m training with my coach Nicho Tabora, my teammates and the students at the King’s College of the Philippines Wushu team.”
After several years living and training in Baguio, Striegl would go on to sign for ONE Championship where he has emerged as a top contender in the 135 lbs division. The promotion recently introduced a strawweight belt and Gayman is hoping to challenge for it one day.
“Of course that’s my dream, to become a champion someday.”
A second win at FMD 7 this Saturday would bring him one step closer to realizing that dream. The event is set for the Insanity Nightclub in Bangkok and Gayman is hoping it works out as well as his pro debut did.
“Fighting for FMD for the first time was great because it was my first fight and I also got to travel outside the Philippines. They take really good care of the fighters and it’s a very well run show.”
He has been training twice a day to prepare for FMD 7 but he does have one new distraction to worry about. His son was born a few months after his first fight but despite both parents being pro mixed martial artists Gayman’s not sure whether he will encourage him to step inside the ring or the cage.
“Next month he will be seven months old. Of course I want to teach him to fight but his mother Sharma doesn’t want me to. She thinks it’s enough that both his parents are martial artists.”
For a Filipino to begin his MMA career in Thailand is a bold move. Gayman was going up against an undefeated local fighter when he made his debut and must have known that the crowd would be against him.
However the 115 lber put in a sufficiently impressive performance to ensure that not only did he win the fight but got invited back by the FMD matchmakers. It’s a long way from Baguio to Bangkok but Gayman hopes that fighting in Thailand will help him to realise his MMA dreams.