Top MMA stars set to visit Manila for UFC’s first PH event

Nissi Icasiano

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Top MMA stars set to visit Manila for UFC’s first PH event
Demetrious Johnson will set foot on Philippine soil along with Miesha Tate, Alistair Overeem and Bryan Caraway to promote UFC Fight Night 66


MANILA, Philippines – The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is ensuring a festive fight week heading towards its first Philippine card as the organization’s top fighters are expected to be in attendance to grace the event.

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will set foot on Philippine soil along with Miesha Tate, Alistair Overeem and Bryan Caraway to promote UFC Fight Night 66 and interact with local mixed martial arts fans.

Johnson (22-2-1) is the inaugural UFC titleholder at the 125-pound weight class, capturing the gold-plated belt against Joseph Benavidez via unanimous decision in September 2012.

The 28-year-old “Mighty Mouse” successfully defended his flyweight title for the sixth time by submitting Japanese contender Kyoji Horiguchi in the UFC 186 headliner last April.

Meanwhile, Tate (16-5) is a former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion and is currently riding high on a three-fight winning streak, defeating the likes of Liz Carmouche, Rin Nakai and Sara McMann.

Tate is scheduled to take on Jessica Eye at UFC on FOX 16 on July 25 (July 26 in PH), with the winner earning the right to challenge the victor of the championship clash between Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correia in the main event of UFC 190 on August 1 (August 2 in Manila).

The 5-foot-6 “Cupcake” is visiting the country with her boyfriend Caraway (19-7), who has been competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) since 2005 and has fought in various promotions such as Strikeforce, EliteXC and World Extreme Cagefighting.

Caraway, who currently occupies the No.10-spot in the UFC bantamweight rankings, was last seen in action when he yielded to Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision in November 2014.

On the other hand, Overeem (39-14, 1 NC) is one of the two prizefighters to bag world titles in both MMA and kickboxing at the same time.

In the sport of MMA, he held the inaugural Strikeforce heavyweight championship by forcing Paul Buentello to submit with knees to the body before claiming his second world title in December 2010 by knocking out Todd Duffee in 19 seconds to win the DREAM heavyweight belt.

Overeem has a kickboxing record of 10-4 with seven knockouts and spent most of his time in K-1, where he won the 2010 World Grand Prix with a first-round stoppage of Peter Aerts in the finals.

The 34-year-old Dutch behemoth has won two matches in a row since bowing down to Ben Rothwell via first-round technical knockout in September 2014, scoring a first-round knockout victory over Stefan Struve this past December before outpointing Roy Nelson three months later.

Overeem spearheaded a meet-and-greet session and public workout at SM Megamall’s Event Center in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila last April 19.

UFC Fight Night 66, which takes place at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, is headlined by a featherweight super-fight between Urijah Faber and Frankie Edgar.

Five Filipino combatants have been booked by the world’s premier MMA league to compete on the same fight card.

Mark Eddiva battles Levan Makashvili in a three-round featherweight tussle, while his teammate Roldan Sangcha-an aims to claim his first UFC triumph as he squares off with Guamanian flyweight Jon delos Reyes.

Meanwhile, Fil-Am standouts Phillipe Nover and Nolan Ticman are also slated to have their respective homecoming fights.

Mark Muñoz was also added to UFC Fight Night 66 and stressed that he is ready to hang up his gloves for good regardless of the outcome of his bout against English middleweight Luke Barnatt. –

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