ONE FC chairman promises big names in next PH event

Nissi Icasiano
ONE FC chairman promises big names in next PH event
Company chairman Chatri Sityodtong reveals ONE Championship is preparing a stacked fight card for its 9th venture to Philippine shores later this year

MANILA, Philippines – With ONE Championship being scheduled to have its year-end event on December 2 in the Philippines, Asia’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization seeks to conclude its 2016 calendar on a high note. 

Company chairman Chatri Sityodtong revealed that ONE Championship is preparing a stacked fight card for its ninth venture to Philippine shores. 

“We are going to have a crazy card for the fans of the Philippines. You got to come out and show your love,” he told Rappler. “We’re going to see some fireworks. It will probably be our biggest event in the Philippines.”

Sityodtong confirmed that Filipino-American Brandon Vera will be defending the ONE Championship heavyweight title against a yet-to-be-determined opponent on the card, which is set to take place at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. 

Vera made history as the first MMA competitor to win the ONE Championship heavyweight belt by knocking out Paul Cheng in December 2015.

The 38-year-old veteran finished the job in just 26 seconds by dropping Cheng to a knee with a short left hand before clobbering a brutal head kick to the chin to become the promotion’s first heavyweight champion. 

Sityodtong also confided that the company considering adding more star power to ONE Championship’s last event for 2016 by booking Team Lakay favorites Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon. 

“We’re definitely going to have some of the biggest Filipino superstars back. I hope to see Eduard Folayang. I also hope to see Geje Eustaquio and Kevin Belingon,” he said. 

Folayang turned back the clock in his 3-round lightweight bout against Japan’s Tetsuya Yamada last January, pummeling his opponent with his deadly striking arsenal and efficiently utilizing his takedown defense to claim a unanimous decision victory and his first win since being knocked out by Timofey Nastyukhin in December 2014.

The 32-year-old from Baguio City, Benguet, was able to drop Yamada with a left hook in the first round and employed looping right hands, spinning back kicks, and an effective sprawl that forced his Japanese counterpart to desperately shoot for takedowns. 

Meanwhile, Eustaquio is riding high on a two-fighting winning streak, scoring an emphatic knockout against Saiful Merican in January before outclassing Gianni Subba via unanimous decision this past April.

Belingon is coming off a disappointing defeat at the hands of ONE Championship bantamweight titleholder Bibiano Fernandes in January.

Fernandes effortlessly defended the gold-plated strap for the fourth time by compelling Belingon to wave the white flag at the 4:04 mark of the first round with a Kimura lock.

Although the organization plans to further extend its reach across Asia, Sityodtong admitted that the Philippines remains as ONE Championship’s biggest market in the region. 

“The Philippines is a very important market for us. Filipino fans are amazing. It’s crazy. The entire Philippines loves fighting,” he stated. 

According to Sityodtong, ONE Championship sets its sights in cultivating more homegrown talents from the Philippines. 

“The Philippines is a nation of warriors. There are still a lot of talents coming out of the Philippines. It has a very rich history of martial arts. So we will see a lot of great things,” he asserted. –

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