Glen Ranillo has led a peripatetic life, with a few walkabouts and some ups and downs along the way. But always going through it all with his own trademark laic back demeanor.
He was born in October 1983 in Luzon, in the Aurora province near Baler, to a stable family consisting of a father who worked on cargo boats, a mother who worked their orange farm, and five siblings consisting of four brothers and one sister, with him falling in the middle of the bunch. His childhood consisted of an outdoor existence where, from the age of ten he helped out on the farm and then spent the remaining part of the days fishing or swimming in the lake near his home, or hunting lizards and such in the surrounding woods, starting with simple traps and graduating to guns by high school age (this is the Philippines after all).
He graduated from high school and even went to college, but it was outside the classroom, in the playground and on the streets, where he really excelled, street fighting along with a few well-chosen friends against a multitude of classmates and neighborhood kids, often against much older boys. He was, as he is today, a quiet and mellow child, but with an explosive temper when riled, or, more likely, when he saw one of his friends being bullied or attacked, something which saw him fighting at least once a month.
At home his street ‘hobby’ became his obsession as he became hooked on watching, and then trying to emulate, the old UFC and Japan’s equivalent, Pride FC, in the early days of Josh Burnett, Kevin Randleman, and Randy Couture; ever since the beginning of this century, all he ever wanted to be was an MMA fighter and champion.
Around the same time, he discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger and was immediately impressed by the sheer size of the man. He embarked on a two-pronged training regime to get on the road to achieving his dreams; he went to the local gym and pumped weights in order to bulk up, and then set up his own little mini-gym in the backyard trying to emulate his MMA heroes, hitting a home-made heavy bag and doing endless pull-ups on a bar he fixed to a wall.
2005 saw him take the first significant step towards his ultimate goal when he left the Philippines and went to join his sister in Japan with a very clear objective of learning how to be an MMA fighter and then joining Pride FC. With her help he managed to hook up some work, he got a girlfriend (without his sister’s help), and he ended up eventually helping his Filipina girlfriend manage a small nightclub, while at the same time joining different gyms, training and learning how to fight at the higher level.
He spent three years living this routine, while always looking for some way to get connected to the fighting circuit, before the seminal moment that would derail his journey. Having finally managed to enter trials in Osaka in order to join Pride FC, with just a week to go he got into trouble with the law and had to leave Naraken, where he was based, and go on the run.
The problem was sparked off by a girl (what else) but Glen sheepishly refuses to elaborate. However it started, the consequence of whatever Glen did or didn’t do, was that a very pissed off Japanese gentleman turned up at his door and proceeded to attack him. Glen in turn proceeded to batter him, then, upon reflection of the consequences of what he had just done, ran away to live in Osaka, managing to find work with a construction company and starting life all over again, traveling all over the country for his new job. The thing about Japan is though, it’s a country with very advanced technology, and it was inevitable that they’d eventually track him down, bursting through his doors in the early morning and taking him into custody.
After a 15 day investigation, he was charged and sentenced to 21 months in prison, though he had a good lawyer who reduced it down so he only ended up doing 4 months behind bars; we say ‘only’ while remembering that this was a Japanese jail, a country where incarceration is infamous for being firmly on the side of… well, degrading and inhumane are the two most-oft used words. They serve pretty healthy food though.
Glen, true to his easy-going nature, did his time without complaining too much, although he confirmed that the regime was pretty harsh – having to sit all day in the lotus position, sleep in exactly the same position every night with 5 other inmates in the same cell just inches away from him, be denied the simple rights of actually talking to a guard, and all the time having to put up with some of his cell mates trying their best to rile him (throwing stuff at him while he’s sleeping and all that sort of nonsense), which he rose above –he also confirmed that the food was indeed pretty healthy, as was the drink as he got bombarded with endless amount of tea instead of water.
In April 2008 he was released and, through his own choice, went straight to the airport and came back home, heading for the province to re-evaluate his options. Because of a few well-meaning donations by friends and his ex-girlfriend, he found himself with a little bit of money and, true to his roving nature, he decided to visit his childhood friend who was now living in Macau.
Two things happened while he was there; first off, he trained properly for the first time in martial arts, joining a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym and training with a real-life Brazilian master of the art, while at the same time joining a Muay Thai gym and developing his kicking technique; secondly, he got addicted to gambling (it’s Macau after all), roaming the casinos and slowly losing all his money on dice and baccarat. He was eventually left without any money and then had to survive the rest of his time there working on the doors of various nightclubs. But all the time he trained and trained and trained.
In 2010 he came home again, only this time choosing the big smoke and bright lights of Manila rather than the sleepy backwater country of Aurora, joining his cousin who already lived there. With not much by way of cash to his name, he hit the gym, soon becoming a permanent fixture in a local gym named Tricks in San Andres in Bukid, training in order to fight, and not doing much else due to a lack of finances.
After a few months and desperate to get on the road to success, he got his first amateur fight, against a big old heavyweight weighing in at around 100kg. The fight didn’t last long; his opponent caught him with a combination of three big punches, momentarily shaking him and leaving him dazed and confused but ultimately making him angry, to which Glen replied with a single right uppercut, flooring his much bigger opponent and confirming to himself that he indeed had a brutal punch that, quite literally, punched above his weight. He earned 2000 pesos for that one.
His second fight earned him no money but he didn’t care, he had the bug; all his life he wanted to fight, now he was doing it. He thrust himself whole-heartedly into it, doing some personal training to earn a little money and putting himself about in order to put himself in the frame for more and more fights. He fought six times in the next year or so, winning five of them - 3 Kos & 2 submissions – in the process getting noticed by the PXC organization, which he has his old coach, John Baylon (Olympian Judo competitor), to thank for setting it up. Time to turn pro.
He joined PXC in 2012 and his record is a credible 4 wins and 3 losses, and he has had 12 fights overall, always preferring the more exciting stand-up ‘street-fighting’ style of exchanging punches, relying on his heavy hands to put his opponents away. However, although he would normally choose to slug it out like a true cage warrior, he is quite comfortable with Grappling, having grabbed the silver medal in the Male Master’s Advanced division at the highly prestigious global ADDC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Wrestling World Championship Asia-Pacific Qualifying Trials in 2012. And when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, he has no belt but he has consistently fought at black belt level, and in Muay Thai, he again has no belt but he feels quite comfortable with his kicking game.
Him turning pro also saw Glen start his own side project by setting up independent foundation, solely run by him, to give back to the community; helping to re-house homeless kids, arranging food to be sent to them through various feeding programs, and helping out victims of hurricane Lando. Now he had something, he felt it was time to give something back.
After three impressive wins on the trot, the last one being an out-and-out savage war where Glen showed he’s teak tough and that he has the heart of a lion, he finally got his chance at the title when he was pitted against Chuji Kato for the vacant belt at lightweight in November 2014. A very frustrating fight, which saw Kato go on the extreme super defensive by refusing to engage, fell into a simple pattern where Kato would back-track around the ring, and an irritated and exasperated Glen, in an attempt to actually fight, would lunge for him, at which point Kato would somehow achieve a takedown. Unfortunately, having managed to get Glen down, he would then proceed to… just hold him there, doing absolutely nothing else by way of actually hurting Glen.
To add insult to injury, the 3rd round saw Glen attempt a submission with a joint lock and be on the very verge of getting it, or so everybody, including both fighters, thought, until the referee inexplicably broke the fighters up and made them start again. Nobody could quite explain it, and Kato actually apologized to Glen for it backstage after the fight. He managed to squeeze a soft victory on points, but then retired straight afterwards, leaving Glen with a lot of what-if’s.
He shook it off and got back in the game, turning to boxing training and then taking part in a local professional competition, and winning it, while waiting for PXC to give him more fights. He also became an integral part and junior partner of the newly opened Old Skool MMA gym, a proper fighter’s gym, in Makati, Poblacion, Manila, which also allows him to train every day while he waits for his next shot.
At the moment he is concentrating on getting as many fights as possible, anywhere anytime anyhow, and trying to spend some time with his daughter and son (6 years old and 9 months old respectively), both of whom he doesn’t live with but who mean the world to him.
When that next fight comes around, he will do what he does best; stand up and slug it out, and if his opponent wants to go to ground, simply smile and grapple it out. Glen Ranillo may be a genuinely nice guy, affable, amiable, and laid back, but underneath that lies the heart of a warrior.
Follow the trials and tribulations of our very own Divest Media Cage Gladiators, Filipino street warriors who we follow on the Road To Glory.