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MANILA, Philippines — Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has risen in popularity over the past few years.
The sport features multiple fighting disciplines fused together as competitors face each other in hand-to-hand combat. It’s comparable to boxing in a way — points are scored by landing effective blows, but the similarities end there.
In MMA, the use of kicks is legal as are the use of elbows and knees. There’s also a grappling aspect, where a combatant may use various ‘submission’ techniques to force their opponent to quit by “tapping out”, a sign of surrender to the in-ring official.
In the early days of professional MMA, the sport was on the receiving end of bad criticism.
The viewing public was simply not ready for the brutal nature of the matches.
Coupled with the refinement of its rules and regulations, MMA today has transformed into an intricate combat science that goes beyond just simple barbaric fighting.
Modern day MMA has now become a global sensation.
A multitude of different promotional groups exist today, namely: Strikeforce, Bellator Fighting Championship and the most popular of all – The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
MMA in the Philippines has just recently caught on.
We have one big promotion on our shores called the Ultimate Reality Combat Championships (URCC) featuring the best of homegrown MMA talents competing against one another.
More importantly, we have a few big name Filipino-blooded cagefighters competing in the United States. Chances are you’ve seen a couple of these guys on TV and wondered if they were Filipino.
Brandon “The Truth” Vera, who once appeared in an episode of Daisy Siete, is a Fil-Am light heavyweight cagefighter.
He served for the US Air Force and joined its wrestling team eventually moving on to professional competition. One of the most promising pinoy MMA talents, Vera has had an up and down career so far.
He’s tallied impressive victories against some tough opponents including former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir.
On the flipside, he’s lost a handful of fights to the biggest names in the sport particularly Tim Sylvia, Keith Jardine, Randy “The Natural” Couture and Jon “Bones” Jones.
Vera now sports a record of 7 wins and 5 losses and is still actively competing under the UFC banner despite not currently being a ‘main event’ fighter. His best assets are his towering height and powerful Muay Thai strikes.
Despite almost getting booted from the UFC due to his dismal record, Vera continues to soldier on and could still be in the hunt for a title should he be able to score a few more victories.
“The Filipino Assassin”
Phillipe “The Filipino Assassin” Nover, the self-proclaimed ‘toughest registered nurse on the planet’, is also a Fil-Am cagefighter who is most popularly known for being a finalist in The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir.
He’s currently a registered nurse pursuing graduate studies at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
During his UFC stint, he was able to string together a couple of impressive wins, prompting Dana White to compare him to a ‘young Georges St. Pierre’, the current UFC Welterweight champion.
Nover now fights under the Bellator Fighting Championships banner and is considered to be one of the best fighters in the promotion. His strengths certainly appear in his vast striking ability but he’s also an ace on the ground.
Nover is a seasoned practitioner of various disciplines including Muay Thai, Kick Boxing, Kung-Fu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do, Savate and Filipino Arnis. He also owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“The Filipino Wrecking Machine”
Perhaps the most promising pinoy MMA talent of all is Fil-Am cagefighter, Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz.
Born in Yokosuka, Japan to full-blooded Filipino parents, Munoz is ranked as the #4 middleweight fighter in the world. He’s a decorated amateur wrestler and is the first Filipino-American at the Division I Level to win a national championship.
Moving to the UFC, he’s found immediate success notching victories over some big names including MMA vet Ryan Jensen, TUF3 winner Kendall Grove, submissions specialist Demian Maia and tough guy Chris Leben.
His best weapon being a wrestler is the takedown wherein he aims to bring his opponent to the ground via throws. From the mount position, he’s then able to launch his infamous ground-and-pound to brutally stop opponents.
Munoz was scheduled to take on Chael Sonnen earlier this year for the right to face current P4P #1 Anderson “The Spider” Silva, but had to pull out of the fight due to an injury he suffered during training.
‘The Filipino Wrecking Machine’ seems to be on a roll as of late despite the setback and is currently in line for a title shot.
Keep an eye out for Mark Munoz as he has a good chance to make headlines in the future as the first Pinoy MMA world champion.
Pinoy MMA is on the rise and right now it’s up to Brandon Vera, Phillipe Nover and Mark Munoz to put the country on the map, to inspire the country’s youth to take on the sport and compete on the world stage to punctuate what Manny Pacquiao has proven in his sport.
That Filipinos are a force to be reckoned with. – Rappler.com