By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Hilo’s Toby “2 Quick” Misech will be in the biggest and most important mixed martial arts fight of his life on Friday, challenging for the Pacific X-treme Combat 145-pound featherweight title in Guam.
The 2006 Hilo High graduate will face South Korean belt holder Jang Yong Kim (7-5-1 overall, 5-2-1 PXC), who has won his last two bouts by submission.
Misech (4-2, 2-0) scored upsets in both his PXC fights. Last March in his PXC debut, he knocked out Sung Hwan Cho in the third round. In August, he recorded a second-round KO against Yusuke Yachi, a Japanese shooto (wrestling) champion, who entered as a heavy favorite.
PXC, based in Guam and the Philippines, is something of a farm system for the UFC. Several PXC fighters — Jon Tuck, Hyun Gyu Lim and Oahu’s Dustin Kimura (a Kalani High graduate) — signed UFC contracts. Kimura defeated Misech with a first-round, rear-naked choke on July, 2012 at King of the Cage on Oahu.
Misech will have the hometown crowd on his side. He’s half Palauan and his other half is a combination of Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese. Palau is about 800 miles away from Guam. According to the website allgov.com, there are about 2,000 Palauans on Guam, which has a population of over 160,000.
“Because Toby is Palauan, he’s a big draw,” said Chad Hao, one of Misech’s trainers from Boss MMA. “They embrace him as one of their own. It was a huge win over Yachi because not many people were expecting him to win. Toby was a heavy underdog, maybe 92 to 8 percent against Yachi.
“He definitely opened eyes with that win. Hopefully, that can be a steppingstone for him to get into a big show. Two of the PXC 145-pound champions moved on, one to Bellator, another to the UFC. There are always eyes watching.”
At PXC 42, Kim, nicknamed the “Beast,” will enter as the favorite. His last fight against Mark Striegl, an unbeaten Filipino fighter, for the belt in September displayed Kim’s wrestling skills, regarded as his strong suit, on a YouTube video.
In the third round, Striegl blocked Kim’s kick and took him down. But the South Korean left-hander quickly worked his way to Striegl’s back then locked in a scissor’s leg choke, turning his opponent’s head purple.
Striegl eventually broke free, but more misfortune followed.
Gasping for air like a guppy out of water, Striegl got punched in the face and fell to the floor. Kim, who all fight long looked like the stronger of the two, went to work on Striegl’s arm, bending it painfully backward for a kimura and a tapout.
Meanwhile, Misech’s last fight against Yachi provided pretty good preparation. Like Misech and Kim, Yachi is a left-hander. The Japanese fighter, two or three inches taller than the 5-foot-8 Misech, had an advantage of length and ground technique skills. But neither made a difference.
In the first round, Yachi went away from his strength and stayed on the perimeter, kicking Misech’s legs or throwing shots to the head, most of which were blocked. Once, the two fighters charged and connected at the same time. Already cautious about Misech’s power, Yachi kept his distance after that exchange.
Then the second round started and Yachi changed tactics, going for a single-leg takedown. But Misech, smaller but stronger, stuffed it and kept the fight on the feet. Then Yachi came in with a wobbly jab that missed high and wide, and Misech went lower and countered with a punishing overhand left to the chin for the KO.
Kim will be a much different obstacle than Yachi, a slim tree with not quite the home-run punching power and functional strength of the South Korean, built like a fullback, who maintains and makes good use of his 145 pounds. Misech’s chin and takedown defense, 1 for 1 against Yachi, will be ably tested in PXC 42.
“In MMA because of the mixture of striking and grappling, the fights are much more dynamic and you have to be prepared for anything and everything,” Kim said on the pacificextremecombat.com website. “I plan to be well-rounded and bring him into my game plan. We’ve left no stone unturned in our preparation. I want to put on a good show for the fans around the world.”
Misech has made his reputation as a striker. He already announced his game plan to the website. He’s swinging for the fences.
“I’m always looking for the knockout,” he said. “That’s just how I fight and I feel like a knockout against the champ can be successful if I can land. I changed up my training by putting on more size and power and I also increased my cardio. This camp I have been training to fight 25 minutes just in case.”