Posted 05/29/2014 by Jesse Scheckner in Featured Fighter

Fight Time 19′s “Ace” Panlasigui: “Win Or Lose, All That Matters is That I Brought the Best Me”

Arvin "Ace" Panlasigui will hope to make it 2-0 this Friday. | Photo: Facebook

Arvin “Ace” Panlasigui will try to make it 2-0 this Friday. | Photo: Facebook

Before Fight Time Promotions flyweight Arvin “Ace” Panlasigui moved to Miami from Seattle four years ago, he lived somewhat of a double life. By day, he was an engineer, earning a healthy paycheck and living a comfortable life. During his off-time, he indulged in his first love: martial arts.

By 12 years old, he had already earned a second-degree black belt in Tung Soo Do, a South Korean discipline similar to Tae Kwon Do. After moving from New York to Seattle, he stuck mainly to individual sports – tennis, wrestling, judo – while pursuing a higher education both scholastically and combatively. His path to becoming a master in Brazilian jiu-jitsu wasn’t an easy one, however on December 1, 2009, he finally attained his BJJ black belt, becoming the first Filipino under the Muradi brothers’ highly respected Lotus Club banner.

This new distinction proved to be a bit of foreshadowing, as Ace had decided to move down south to Miami to help out his sister, who at that time was experiencing financial difficulties.

“When I moved across the country is when I made the drastic change,” he says. “I wanted to pursue my passion as opposed to holding a regular job. It all just came together. The reason I moved to Miami in the first place was because I wanted to help my sister and her kids out – my two nieces and my nephew. She had a divorce two years ago, but the man that she was with was going to Afghanistan. I would fly out from Seattle to Miami and see the lifestyle that I was living over there, where everything was cool, and how it was here, with my sister struggling a little bit, and I knew that when he left for Afghanistan it would have been hard for her, so I was like, ‘You know, sis, if I can find a job out here, I’ll stay.’”

Panlasigui is the head instructor at West Kendall's Lotus Club Miami. | Photo: Facebook

Panlasigui is the head instructor at West Kendall’s Lotus Club Miami. | Photo: Facebook

After moving to Miami, he taught at a local martial arts school for five months, however when the school failed to give him a percentage of their profits – an arrangement he says they had agreed upon – he left to open his own school with his brother-in-law. Six months later, that venture tanked. He found success in his next go at it, a victory which he built upon two years ago when he opened up an even larger facility: West Kendall’s Lotus Club Miami.

“I thought opening up a jiu-jitsu school was just about teaching, but it’s far from that; it’s running a business,” he says. “But is it hard? I don’t think so. I think, actually, I have the best schedule to be a pro fighter. I’m able to set my schedule. I’m blessed with a lot of students now, but initially it wasn’t easy at all. During my amateur career, trying to have a $1,500, $2,000 overhead for your school with only ten students is kind of hard. Those numbers just don’t add up. Initially I had to do some odd jobs at night, just to get by, to pay the credit cards off, but I wasn’t ashamed of it because I always knew what I had and where I was going.”

With an amateur career that saw him go 7-4, he was able to claim the American Battle Championships flyweight title after a three-round fight with Mike Hamman (another fighter appearing on this Friday’s fight card). On February 2 this year, he made his long-awaited pro debut at RFC 30: Turf Wars, winning a unanimous decision against William Seals.

“I felt it was time,” he explains. “I tend to procrastinate on a lot of things, but I realized I’m also a late bloomer. I could’ve gone pro five fights ago, but I knew that the amateur division was a place for me to grow as a fighter, to make the mistakes. All my fights, whether wins or losses, gave me valuable lessons. I took my time. I was never in a rush. I never did this for money. By the same token, I am 35 years old and I’m not getting any younger, so I decided, ‘You know what, let’s go ahead and go for it.’ It’s always been a dream of mine and I’m happy I’m pursuing it. God willing I’d like to fight for the next five years and within those five years win a world title.”

His fight this Friday is against Miguel “The Magic City Mauler” Restrepo, a fighter from South Florida fighter factory MMA Masters who boasts similar professional and amateur experience. Like Ace, it will be debut with Fight Time.

Ace has a 3-fight contract with Howard Davis Jr.'s Fight Time Promotions. | Photo: Facebook

Ace has a 3-fight contract with Howard Davis Jr.’s Fight Time Promotions. | Photo: Facebook

“I know all the competitors out there at MMA Masters are well-rounded,” Ace offers. “I’ve seen a lot of those guys compete and I would imagine those are the people he surrounds himself with. I can’t really say exactly what my strong points are against him. I would say that I’m in the best shape of my life and just like this fight means a lot to him, this fight means a lot to me. It could come down to will, but I feel like I possess a lot of skill – on the ground, standing, striking – I feel comfortable in all areas. I’m confident to get the victory, I’m anxious and I’m certainly not taking him lightly. I don’t want to say anything to jinx myself, you know, but I’ve been working on everything, and I think it’s all up to par. I think my weakest link was my conditioning and I believe in the last seven months I’ve really jumped that up. I’m ready. I feel ready, prepared in all aspects.”

Panlasigui’s fight this Friday will be the first of a three-fight deal he penned with Howard Davis Jr.’s promotion. Of course, like everyone else, he’d prefer a victory, however he claims to be less concerned with winning than he is with performing to the best of his abilities come fight night.

“When I visualize this fight in my head, I see it going a lot of ways,” he says. “I know he’s a tough kid, and sometimes things don’t always go your way. I’m ready. I’m bringing the best me, so if he beats me that night, as long as I don’t make any personal mistakes, I’m fine with a loss as long as I know I brought the best me. I feel awesome. At this point, when you’re less than a week away, you just kind of want to get the whole fight over with. Everything is normal, which is a good sign. I’m nervous, excited. I’ve been training really hard for it. It means a lot to me. I’m excited to go out there – anxious, you know?”

Arvin “Ace” Panlasigui is fighting this Friday at Fight Time 19: Battle of the Brave at Ft. Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorium. Click HERE for more information.

Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well committed to nonfiction storytelling. He is the 2014 Florida MMA Awards "Best MMA Media Correspondent" winner and a two-time Miami New Times "Best Of" winner. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.