By Thinesh John
If you told a non-casual Mixed Martial Arts fan that ONE Fighting Championship was a promotion that was launched late last year, he’d probably think you’re absurd.
The Singapore-based organization has showcased 4 spectacular events thus far – all of which have received positive reviews/remarks from fans and critics alike. So it’s no surprise that many are still pondering on how much attention and fame this promotion has garnered, in just a matter of months.
ONE Fighting Championship has undoubtedly, established itself as the premier Mixed Martial Arts organization in Asia.
And on August 31st, the promotion will make its first visit to the Philippines, where the Filipino crowd will be treated to a stacked fight card at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, in an event that’s titled, ‘Pride of a Nation’.
“It will be a sell-out crowd of 16,500 fans in Manilla on August 31st,” said Victor Cui, the CEO of ONE Fighting Championship. “It will be the biggest MMA event in Filipino history.”
As reported earlier on MMASucka.com, Ole ‘Iron Fist’ Laursen and Phil ‘The New York Badass’ Baroni are expected to make their presence felt in Manilla. Laursen was last seen at ONE FC 3: War of the Lions, where he gained a controversial decision victory over Team Lakay’s Eduard Folayang. A rematch is expected to be on the works for this event, but nothing is official yet. Baroni, on the other hand, was left highly disappointed after Roger Huerta refused to fight him at ONE FC 4: Destiny of Warriors. The former UFC and PRIDE veteran currently holds a professional MMA record of 14-15, with his most recent loss coming via TKO against Chris Holland, at Ring of Fire 43.
Newly signed grappling maestro Shinya Aoki, is also expected to make his promotional debut at ONE FC 5: Pride of a Nation. One of Asia’s and Japan’s most popular fighters, Aoki was DREAM’s Lightweight Champion prior to the promotion’s recent demise. The 29-year-old currently holds a professional record of 30-6, and is 4-1 in his past 5 fights. His lone lost came at the hands of former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, at Bellator 66. An opponent, however, is yet to be named for the Evolve MMA native.
But it doesn’t there. Former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral, is also expected to compete in Manilla. Sobral will be making his 2nd appearance in the ONE FC cage, following his submission victory over Tatsuya Mizuno, just a few days ago, at ONE FC’s ‘Destiny of Warriors’ event. The Brazilian will be joined by a couple of high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners on the fight card too, in Rolles, Gregor and Igor Gracie.
Fighters such as Kevin Belingon, Eric Kelly, Roy Docyogen and Honorio Banario are all expected to have a place on the Manilla fight card, although their respective opponents are not known at this time.
The venue that formerly hosted the epic showdown between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, will now play host to Asian Mixed Martial Arts’ most prized event.