June 21, 2024

STRIKING COACH — Benedicto Alumno, the striking coach of reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship strawweight female world champion Zhang Weili, is being credited for the latter’s successful title defense against fellow Chinese compatriot Yan Xiaonan in Nevada, U.S.A. on April 14. — Contributed photo

Cordilleran striking coach, Benedicto “Ben” Alumno, is being credited by the mixed martial arts community for being part of the successful title defense by Ultimate Fighting Championship strawweight world champion Zhang Weili in Paradise, Nevada on April 14.

The Chinese champion outdueled Yan Xiaonan en route to a unanimous decision victory even after she nearly scored a stoppage win twice in the first two rounds in the co-main event of UFC 300, a landmark event in MMA.

Soon after Zhang’s victory, Filipino coaches and fighters extended their congratulations to the Chinese champion and to Alumno for raising Asian pride in the global stage.

The Baguio native was tapped by the camp of Zhang last year after one of his students in China as a fitness instructor pre-pandemic called him if he is interested to coach a UFC fighter, who turned out to be Zhang.

A Muay Thai fighter himself, Alumno later found himself coaching one of the most dominant female MMA fighters on the planet in preparation for her fight against Amanda Lemos that took place on Aug. 19, 2023.

The Chinese champion has not only defended her title against Lemos via unanimous decision but also set a record for most strikes landed in a fight with 296 in one of the more dominant title defenses in years.

In her fight against Yan, Zhang has survived the tough Chinese opponent, who almost scored an upset win when she floored the champion twice in the latter round.

Zhang, 34, has improved her MMA record to 25 wins with three losses, and became the second with the most title fight wins in UFC strawweight history with five.

Meanwhile, Alumno, 37, expects to be in the corner of the Chinese champion in her future fights.

Alumno is the younger brother of Billy Alumno, the head coach of the Muay Thai national team. —   Harley F. Palangchao