Legendary coach George Castro recently moved all the way from Tucson, Arizona, hundreds of miles across the Pacific to the tropical city of Manila to help ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera set up the first Alliance MMA branch in the Philippines.
Known as the man behind Alliance MMA’s terrific strength and conditioning program, Castro says making the move away from his family and friends wasn’t an easy decision, but the Mexican-American says he is slowly adapting to his new home, and is excited to help bring Philippine MMA to the next level.
Castro has worked extensively with fight game veterans back in the US including Dominick Cruz, Ross Pearson, Jeremy Stephens, and Chris Leben. That said, he has certainly been impressed with the quality fighters in the Philippines with what he has seen so far.
“It’s really at a high level already. Filipinos are tremendous competitors and they really pour their heart and soul into their craft. I’m excited to really get in there and start working with some of them,” said Castro, who is set to spearhead the establishment of Alliance MMA in Manila later this year.
“There are going to be a few things which the Alliance MMA gym is going to be able to help with regards to technique. Stuff that I do differently with strength and conditioning, that’s my strong point. I love getting fighters stronger, faster, and more explosive. That’s my thing. I love doing that.”
Castro and Vera are working hard towards opening the Filipino branch of Alliance MMA this August. The plan is to build one of the strongest MMA teams in Asia by the end of next 2018. Castro is confident that once the gym is up and running that they’ll be able to help Filipino athletes develop more aspects of their fight game, and add to the inherent toughness and skills they already possess.
In fact, he likens Filipino fighters to Mexican fighters, finding similarities in the way the both groups of people have a lot of heart and fight their utmost until the end. Castro has built his career around athletes like these, and values work ethic above all else. In fact, he says it is more than half the battle.
“Filipino fighters are tough and they are not going to give up. They’re missing maybe a couple of things that we’ll be working on. We have a lot of work to do. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I have faith in our staff and our coaches. We’re definitely going to have one of the top teams in Asia.”
There is certainly a plethora of great martial arts talent in the Philippines. Two of the most prominent Filipino MMA athletes are both World Champions in ONE Championship, with Vera holding the heavyweight title while Eduard Folayang holds the lightweight strap. The potential to develop more world champions in the country, Castro says, is virtually limitless.
“I don’t see any limits at all, I really don’t. There are so many people out here. MMA is just rising. I know Brandon’s last fight was broadcast to a billion homes. That’s a lot of people watching MMA. It’s just going to keep growing and getting larger across Asia,” added Castro.
“I’m excited to get out, teach what I know, and connect with different people, different fighters, and honestly learning from everyone too. You’re always learning. Always stay humble and always keep learning – that’s the key to keep growing.”