The Midtown Throwdown III on Feb. 11 showcased Eugene’s mixed-martial arts talent in masse. Local gyms pitted gutsy competitors against each other in fight after fight in what proved to be a gripping series of contests — with each combatant hungry to further propel his nascent career into what has now become the world’s fastest-growing sport.
And one up-and-comer was preparing to welcome another kind of birth.
Amateur fighter Chris Sanjose sat in the staging area. His body bears telltale signs of the fight he’d just engaged. Next to him sat his wife, Jamilyn, attending to his wounded ankle with an icepack. She is eight months pregnant. Their daughter is to be named Anaia. It’s a family affair.
With a record of six wins and only one loss, Sanjose has built a reputation for himself in the Northwest as a skilled stand-up fighter in the 135-pound weight class — he competes in Thai boxing as well as amateur mixed martial arts. At Midtown Throwdown III, he defeated Haizam Golez by unanimous decision, in a Thai boxing match that displayed the most surgical striking of the evening.
Though from a cultural perspective, it was odd to witness Thai boxing performed in a cage without either the traditional woodwind music or requisite ceremonial dance, neither Sanjose nor Golez lacked in form or conditioning. Sanjose set the pace, and his leg kicks were the determining factor. The match went all three rounds before defaulting to the judges’ score cards.
“I wanted to open up with boxing but (Golez) is a heavy puncher,” says Sanjose. “I stuck to the game plan, which was kicking.”
He says in his next fight he will look to go pro, but not before some well-deserved rest, and the arrival of his daughter.