Chris Hofmann

ChrisHofmann

A combatant of Swiss and Filipino heritage, Chris Hofmann is the reigning and defending two-division champion in the Philippines-based Ultimate Reality Combat Championship (URCC) promotion. Currently boasting a six fight win streak courtesy of six successive TKO finishes, Chris is a fearsome striker and a renowned finisher. It came as no surprise, then, when Chris told The MMA Vanguard in an exclusive interview that he had always held a natural preference for the stand up game ever since he began to toy with the idea of a career in combat sports.

That career seems to have emerged more by chance than design. The Swiss-born 27 year old originally swapped his father’s homeland for his mothers’ in order to pursue a very different sporting career: “I was a basketball player and left Switzerland for the Philippines [in order] to play in college and hopefully play as a professional one day,” Chris told us. Little did he know at the time, but fate held quite different plans for the talented athlete: “[Unfortunately] it became clear I was not legally allowed to play college basketball because of some paperwork issues, and when my then girlfriend (now wife) became pregnant with our first son, I needed to find a job to save money for my future family.”

“I started to work in a call centre here in Manila as a German-speaking customer service rep. The plan was always to go back to basketball as soon I had enough savings. I needed an activity to stay in shape [in the interim], and after reading somewhere that Kobe Bryant – who is my favourite athlete – was boxing in his off season to stay in shape, I thought why shouldn’t I give it a try?!”

Thus, the seeds were sown: Hofmann was about to begin reaping the rewards in a sport that, in all honesty, had previously held little appeal. “I remember watching the replay of [UFC 113] when Kimbo fought [Matt Mitrione] in his last fight for the UFC. I didn’t like it at all, two shirtless, sweaty dudes grappling and scrambling on the floor. I liked watching kickboxing, but there was not enough striking in those [MMA] fights for my liking.”

Unsurprisingly, then, Chris Hofmann fights tend to revolve around the stand up game wherever possible. True to form, Hofmann dedicated himself to a sport not dissimilar to that of Kobe’s preferred recreational activities: “I started taking private lessons in Muay Thai. I liked watching kickboxing, so I really enjoyed it. While I was researching some kicks and techniques I came across some replays of The Ultimate Fighter season 10,” Hofmann told The MMA Vanguard. An innocuous twist of fate, perhaps, but one that led Chris to re-evaluate the sport.

“After watching an episode, and eventually the whole season, I was really impressed by how hard MMA fighters had to train and how competitive the whole sport was. I’m a very competitive person myself, so I was thrilled by the idea of undertaking the same training.”

Fortunately for Hofmann, Alvin Aguilar, the Founder and President of the URCC, as well as the owner of a gym in Parañaque that focused primarily on mixed martial arts, was watching. “After three months of training and my first win, I kept on with Muay Thai driven by the desire to get even better. Eventually Alvin Aguilar noticed me while he was preparing some pro MMA fighters, and asked me to join the session to partner up with them. I agreed, and after the session Alvin seemed to be impressed or perhaps saw some potential I guess, so he asked if I liked the training, and if I wanted to continue with MMA. I agreed, kept training, eventually got my first amateur MMA fight, progressed to professional, and here we are now,” Chris said, laughing.

The decision by Aguilar to offer Hofmann further training has since paid off no end. It’s testament to Aguilar’s eye for talent that Hofmann has gone from strength to strength in the sport. It also reflects highly favourably on the training at BAMF MMA that a customer service rep could, in time, become a two-division champion.

It hasn’t been an easy road, however. As with many professional debutants, Hofmann and his team had little say in the timing and nature of his first pro fight. Singapore-based Rebel FC came to Hofmann in need of a replacement opponent for Korean light heavyweight Doo Hwan ‘The Korean Rhino’ Kim, then 5-2, and with experience fighting for M-1 Global, Pacific Xtreme Combat, Cage Warriors, and Top FC.

“One month after my amateur MMA fight, Rebel FC reached out to me fight a 205 pounder,” Chris told The MMA Vanguard. “He had more experience and the fight was on short notice, just seven days. I accepted it, and got my ass whooped of course. Not the best way to start my pro career, but it was surely an eye opener for me.”

That eye opener taught Chris the lesson many budding MMA fighters have to learn. In Chris’ words: “I always see many holes in my game, and areas to improve. As of now I still feel like a newbie or amateur who still needs to learn a lot.” As the sport of MMA continues to go from strength to strength, particularly in areas like South East Asia, where the sport remains relatively new despite a rich history of a variety of martial arts competitions, perpetual improvement and learning is a natural focus among MMA gyms. Chris embraced that idea from the beginning.

URCC 25 offered Hofmann the chance to regain parity on his record with a fight against Papua New Guinea native Nickson Kola. Dictating distance early on courtesy of hard leg kicks and a patient yet explosive approach, only when Kola began marching forward did Hofmann’s dangerous hands come into play. While Kola landed the greater volume of punches, Hofmann needed only a single winging right to turn the Papuan’s lights out. While the form and content hardly resembled a perfectly-timed counter strike, the effect was, nonetheless, a KO victory after just sixty seconds. The URCC light heavyweight division had been served notice of the power in Hofmann’s hands.

Filipino stand out Jeremias Tan, then, should have been wary of a fast finish at URCC 26. It didn’t help him. Another first round stoppage win in Hofmann’s favour, and a positive record for the first time in his pro career. Now 2-1, Hofmann was given the opportunity to fight a vastly more experienced fighter in the form of Caloy Baduria (9-4-1), a top contender for the vacant URCC Light Heavyweight title.

A stout, hard-hitting fighter with 205 lbs packed on to a 5’7 frame, Baduria had never gone the distance, and had earned eight TKO finishes from nine victories. Hofmann would have to show superior movement and utilize angles in order to get the better of this one, particularly given his propensity to keep fights standing. Fortunately, movement seemed to be the theme of this particular fight. As Baduria plodded forward with a rather flat-footed stance, Hofmann danced around him in the early going, landed leg kicks, and did whatever he could to prevent himself becoming embroiled in close quarters combat. Disengaging quickly from clinches, Hofmann established a game plan that stopped him being a static target. Getting much the better of exchanges and using his reach to his advantage, Hofmann methodically picked apart Baduria, in spite of the Filipino’s relentless forward-marching style.

It was a great game plan, but one that almost came apart at the seams when Baduria was twice able to put Hofmann’s back to the cage and tee off with wild haymakers. Hofmann, to his credit, was able to eat a few, and even forced Baduria to cover up during the course of some exchanges. A takedown attempt late in round one was repelled by Baduria, so Hofmann instead landed a one-two combination, and resumed his hit-and-move stylistics.

Round two saw Baduria begin to visibly tire, and though his strikes continued to come with the same ferocity, his volume was beginning to diminish. Hofmann started taking chances, including a crane kick and a wild flying kick, but almost paid the price when Baduria wobbled him against the cage with a hard left, only to fail to land a follow up with his wild swings. Hofmann unwisely sought refuge in the form of a takedown, saw it stuffed, and ate several hard punches as Baduria piled on the pressure, but the Swiss fighter showed great toughness and resilience, as one bad position led to another. Eventually Hofmann was able to get back to his feet, having weathered the worst of Baduria’s offence, and a wry smile wrinkled Baduria’s lips. He knew he was fighting a tough kid.

By now Baduria had suffered an injury to his left arm, the appendage dangling loosely for much of the rest of the second round, it’s sole use restricted to something akin to a club swung wildly at Hofmann’s head! Hofmann took advantage of the situation, landing several unchecked punches, yet Baduria continued pushing forward in search of an elusive finish. It never came. By the time the second round had ended, Hofmann had landed unanswered strikes in double digits, and while Baduria had eaten everything Hofmann had thrown his way, his injured arm would no longer let him continue. Hofmann was declared the winner at the end of the second round due to a TKO due to injury. The URCC Light Heavyweight Championship was duly his, and his first defence would come two months later in June 2016 against another Filipino in Arvin Chan.

Chan, like the rest of Hofmann’s more recent opponents, fell to a second round TKO after a period of bad blood leading into the fight. While Hofmann relished the victory, his Light Heavyweight title would not be top of the agenda in his next fight. Instead, Hofmann dropped to middleweight in order to face the undefeated John Adajar for the vacant URCC Middleweight title.

Hofmann would end Adajar’s night in the second round by way of a huge knee having utilized leg kicks and punches to good effect throughout the fight. Adajar, himself a heavy hitter, could not match the aggression and power of Hofmann, and the Swiss fighter was crowned a two-division champion. Next, however, would come the toughest challenge of his young career – American David ‘Tarzan’ Douglas, an Elite XC and Strikeforce veteran of over 15 fights.

His most impressive win to date, Hofmann would advance his record to 6-1 courtesy of the fourth first round TKO of his career, giving URCC President Alvin Aguilar the task of finding an even tougher fight next time out. How far Hofmann can in MMA remains to be seen, but on the evidence of his first seven fights, it’s clear the Swiss has an outstanding upside, and real potential. What makes things even more impressive is that Hofmann continues to work a full time job!

“I am still working in a call centre now as an escalation lead, so I get my training in the morning and then I go to the office and work till midnight. I recently got invited to join the [Philippines] National Wrestling Team and so I train and compete there now as well. We are actually preparing for the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games which will be held on September in Turkmenistan.”

If Hofmann can take to wrestling in much the same way as he has taken to striking, Chris could become an even more outstanding prospect. That, right now, is the aim: “I hope I can quit my office job soon, so I could focus one hundred percent on MMA and Wrestling,” Chris told us. That opportunity may only be a matter of time for the proud father of three ‘very energetic sons’.

Whatever the future holds, The MMA Vanguard cannot wait to see what’s next for TKO specialist Chris Hofmann!

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