After selling out the Stadium Negara in Malaysia, ONE Fighting Championship is headed to the Philippines for what promises to be the most ambitious show the promotion has put on yet. The 16,500 capacity Arenata Coliseum is best known for playing host to the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975 and on August 31st, mixed martial arts (MMA) is set for its own 'Thriller in Manila'.
MMA is very popular in the Philippines with ONE FC regularly screened on ESPN and Star Sports, the UFC on the Balls Channel and URCC on Solar Sports. It is possible to watch the sport practically every night and the country is also a proven breeding ground for some of the region's most exciting fighters.
URCC champions Eduard Folayang (11-2), Roy Docyogen (10-0), Kevin Belingon (9-1). Eric Kelly (7-0) and Honorio Banario (6-1) are all likely to be in action which should give the fans plenty to cheer about while the card is also expected to see the ONE FC debut of legendary lightweight Shinya Aoki.
ONE FC has made phenomenal progress since being formed just 12 months ago and has already put on events in Singapore, Jakarta and, most recently, Kuala Lumpur. A major MMA show had never been attempted in Malaysia before but ONE FC was able to sell out the biggest indoor arena in the country at the first attempt.
At the end of a weekend which featured a wealth of MMA action the major talking point was not the two UFC cards, Bellator 71 or Fedor Emelianenko's retirement fight but Zorobabel Moreira's brutal soccer kick KO of Roger Huerta at ONE FC: 'Destiny of Warriors.'
It was testament to how far ONE FC has come in a short space of time and the next card looks set to be the most exciting and ambitious yet. Dana White has been talking about putting on a show in the Philippines for over four years now, progress has been painfully slow with no date set at the time of writing but for frustrated Filipino fight fans the wait for a major international MMA show will soon be over.
The URCC is the longest running promotion in South East Asia and the most successful promotion in the Philippines. It celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and the organizer's will work hand in hand with ONE FC to put on this event which will probably feature most of the URCC champions as well as some other fighters such as Geje Eustaquio and Ole Laursen.
Phil Baroni has already tweeted that he expects to be involved and it is possible that the fight with Roger Huerta, which was originally set for ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors, could be rescheduled for August 31st. Folayang vs Laursen was one of the best fights Asian MMA has witnessed this year and while a rematch is believed to be in the works it is likely both fighters will face different opponents in Manila.
Speaking to media in Kuala Lumpur ONE FC CEO / Owner Victor Cui also shed some light on his plans for the future and revealed that there will be 18 shows in 2013. They will take place in nine different Asian cities with each destination hosting a ONE FC show roughly every six months.
Also lost in the pre fight publicity for last Saturday's ONE FC show was the news that the promotion had struck a lucrative deal with car manufacturer Chevrolet. Elsewhere MMA might be in danger of stagnating but in Asia the sport is growing at a staggering rate and ONE FC is at the forefront of this phenomenon.
Folayang vs Laursen 1 - 2011
In my opinon, Coach Eduard lost the fight. There were no issues there for me. It was plain to see. I was expecting Coach Eduard to out wrestle and take Ole down but I was surprise to see the opposite. Furthermore, I think our coaches (no offense) should change their game plan against Ole. With due respect to Ole, aside from him learning Wrestling and BJJ, his striking is still the same as years ago. No difference when Ole fought Masato. I mean Ole should have adapted his Muay Thai style into a more MMA style. With changing of levels, from striking, to shooting, to the clinch, to wrestling and then to grappling - there's a lot to consider even with the basic fighting stance when it comes to MMA.
LAURSEN VS MASATO
As you can see, based on the fight clip above (2008), Ole's striking style is still the same even when Ole started in MMA, his style should have adapted to frequently changing levels of MMA.
What I think he should do is make Muay Thai adapt to MMA. He has nasty knee strikes and that would work in advantage for him if he can bring his opponents close for knee strike combinations.
And of course, improve on his boxing skills too. I mean Coach Eduard pummeled Ole's face while Coach Eduard's face got away clean.
LAURSEN VS GREGORY SWERTS (SUPERLEAGUE)
LAURSEN VS EDUARDO PACHU(MMA)
Make no mistake I am a fan of Ole Laursen ever since his fights in Thailand and Superleague to K1 Max and now his MMA fighting career.
But as a fan, I would like to see more growth and adaptability on his skills as a fighter and that goes also to Coach Eduard and all my heroes - fighters - in Team Lakay.
I mean, they are strong locally but there must be a phenomenal growth and sharpening of their skills to be able to compete in Asian MMA.
EDUARD FOLAYANG VS VUYISILLE COLOSSA
As for Coach Eduard vs Colossa, Colossa's striking was more sharper. But some say that it was Coach Eduard's dominant ground game that made him win this controversial fight.
But as you've seen the videos above, Coach Eduard's striking needs to be polished. Coach Eduard looks more tense as oppose to Colossa's relax composure when striking. Even during the fight with Ole, Coach Eduard was quite tense.
Coach Eduard should improve on his boxing skills and not too often depend on wild haymakers. I mean where are the combination strikes? Where are his punch-kick-takedown combos and the other such combos he posses?
Coach Eduard needs to evolve and be a multidimensional fighter in the Asian MMA scene. Now that the challenge for Team Lakay is MMA dominance in Asia, there are lots of fighters that posses different styles and in my opinion for Coach Eduard to rise to the challenges, he needs to evolve more to become an unpredictable fighter that has very effective striking, wrestling, grappling and clinching techniques.
Coach Eduard has lots of experience and his skill level is at his best for him. But then the Asian MMA scene is evolving too. And I hope that Coach Eduard's style is able to move, evolve, and match the fast evolving and unpredictable challenges Asian MMA has to offer.
One thing in Sanshou/Sanda is that we are a little bit shallow when it comes to knee and non-existing elbow strikes and techniques.
That is why even as my based sport is Sanshou, I have to train secretly in Muay Thai to learn such techniques and adapt it to my own Sanshou style.
There's no shame in learning another striking art. Personally I have to adapt and evolve my art to the changing tides of Martial Arts these days.
I might go on as far to say that sometimes Filipino Sanshou/Muay Thai stylists are too proud to not admit that they need to learn the strengths of both arts. The old mentality of "My art is better than your art - Kung-Fu is better than Karate - Muay Thai is better than Sanshou - Sanshou is better than Muay Thai - Yawyan is better than Sanshou and Muay Thai combine" is still prevalent in the Philippines nowadays.
An example of why we need to learn other arts aside from our base Martial Art, was Coach Geje Eustaquio in his first PXC 28 debut fight if I'm not mistaken. He fought Korean David Cho. During the fight, Coach Geje was unable to defend himself and counter from the clinch and therefore got a bloody nose. And that's one of the problems with us Sanshou practitioners we are not that knowledgeable when it comes to the Muay Thai clinch.
We oftentimes think that we do not need to learn the Muay Thai clinch because we have the advantage in takedowns and Wrestling. We need to accept the fact that to be able to compete in MMA, our arts need to evolve too and accept the techniques from other arts that might help us become the fighter we ought to be.
Personally I had to look for a good local Muay Thai coach to teach me the techniques of the clinch. During vacation from university in the past years, I had the opportunity to train in the US under Coach Shawn Tompkins, train in one of Brad Daddis' fight camps, attend a Greg Nelson seminar and others.
The experience is phenomenal and I do hope one day that when it is my time, I am able to rise to the challenge and make Team Lakay proud.
Coach Kevin's defeat against Masakazu Imanari (One FC3) and Kuya Honorio's defeat against Bae Young Kwon (One FC2) was gut wrenching to see them defeated easily without putting much of a fight. And yet other fighters such as Leandro Issa, was able to put up a fight against Imanari and eventually win by neutralizing Imanari's ground game (Master of Leglocks). The same goes to Edward Kelly who put up a fight against Kwon and swept the judges' decision.
KEVIN BELLINGON VS MASUKAZU IMANARI
HONORIO BANARIO VS BAE YOUNG KWON
(No embedding option)
I mean there must be something wrong here? What's in Leandro Issa that wasn't in Coach Kevin when he faced Imanari? What was in Edward Kelly that wasn't in Kuya Honorio when he fought Kwon? There are a lot of factors concerning such things. If we say training, I do not believe that's the difference. Because Coach Kevin and Kuya Honorio train like animals and they are the ones we try to emulate in the gym. But what was really lacking during their fights against Imanari and Kwon was probably strategy and adaptability to the fight situation - Coach Kevin, knowing Imanari was a Master of Leglocks, shouldn't have caught on to Imanari's bait to reel in Coach Kevin to kick him while he was on the ground. Youtube is a database of evidence of Imanari's leglocking prowess and shows the results when his opponents tried to kick him on the ground. And of course Kuya Honorio - sidekick attack - come on Kuya, at least there should have been a setup. It's the beginning of the fight and body shots already without any setup? Well in the gym, Kuya Honorio taught us to setup strikes - Coach Honorio should have been practicing what he was teaching in his fight against Kwon.
Because of an easy victory against Kuya Honorio, Kwon stated how Filipino fighters were not that tough to defeat. Edward Kelly, who is by the way a Filipino made Kwon eat his own words.
I really do hope that the lessons learned from Coaches Kevin and Honorio's defeats would not be lost but to improve Team Lakay fighters when encountering such diverse fighting styles Imanari and Kwon posses. I do hope that there will be rematches as both Coaches Kevin and Honorio continue up the rankings in ONE FC.
With this being said, I'm expecting hard sparring sessions and near-death workouts in the gym later today!!! LOL!