Despite the cancellation of UFC Fight Night in Manila, the Philippines was able to field one of its homegrown fighters to the next event in the promotion’s line-up in Melbourne, Australia.

At UFC Fight Night 101: Whittaker vs. Brunson last month former PXC flyweight champion Jenel Lausa made a superb debut with a unanimous decision victory over Yao Zhikui.

“I think my opponent got surprised,” the Team Insider fighter said at a press conference held last week.

“I think I made a statement that night. Especially with my striking proving that I could stand and bang with him for three rounds.”

With Lausa vs Yao kicking off the prelims, “The Demolition Man” used clean combinations and use dirty boxing with furious hand speed to frustrate the Chinese fighter, scoring two knockdowns in round 1 and a huge head kick knockdown in round 2.

Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Yao Zhikui (red gloves) competes against Jenel Lausa (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Yao Zhikui (red gloves) competes against Jenel Lausa (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The scrappy fireworks in the bout assured that Lausa’s hand was raised in the end.

That night, the 27-year-old from Concepcion, Iloilo improved his MMA record to 7-2 and took his place alongside names like Mark Eddiva, Roldan Sangcha-An and Dave Galera; native sons who’d made it to the Octagon. Lausa’s dream had come true on the wave of a 5-fight win streak.

“It was so exciting to be at my first UFC fight,” laughed Lausa.

“I was proud to be representing the Philippines and I stuck to my team’s game plan – to make use of my boxing and Muay Thai and use wrestling defensively to keep it standing.”

Lausa did indeed showcase on-point grappling in Melbourne, despite a failed guillotine attempt his wrestling played quite well to his strengths – stand up, manage distance, continue to destroy with fists.

Credit is due to Marciano Basas, former national wrestling coach and SEA Games athlete, who’s worked with Lausa since his days in the PXC and was instrumental in capturing that promotion’s flyweight title against Crisanto Pitpitunge in January 2016, a gruelling fight that ended in a split decision win.

“I knew that Jenel’s opponent was good on the ground so I developed a strong Greco-Roman stand-up game plan with him. I call it half-freestyle. It’s a very potent weapon in MMA,” Basas says.

“We really didn’t want [Jenel] to engage on the ground with Yao,” he continued.

“The Chinese fighter is a pretty good wrestler. And we can’t laugh at China’s wrestling program at all.”

With a victory in the Octagon under his cap and out of the way, Lausa now plans to be more comfortable in the UFC grind and admits that the end goal is to set his sights at becoming a contender for the UFC flyweight title, currently held by pound-for-pound great Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

Lausa laughed: “If McGregor could go down to flyweight that would be a great fight, I think? But seriously speaking, fighting for the flyweight title is the goal. Which means getting to Mighty Mouse.”

With a 12 month contract under the UFC that contains a 4-fight bond, Lausa confesses he has no regrets vacating the PXC flyweight title to make the transfer. March 2017 may be the earliest he’ll fight again but there hasn’t been news of an opponent yet.

Lausa says he’s ready and eager to make the climb up that MMA mountain for UFC gold. With excellent and intuitive striking skills, steadily improving defensive grappling, and having signed to an athletic management team that will take care of his nutrition and fitness needs we may well just see The Demolition Man’s name as a marquee headliner sooner than we think.