Sat, May 11, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Philippine fighters set to take center stage as ONE FC returns to Manila

By James Goyder  /  Contributing reporter

Honorio Banario, center, celebrates winning the ONE FC featherweight belt in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Feb. 2.

Photo courtesy of ONE FC

Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts organization is returning to the Philippines for the second time with a show booked for the 20,000 capacity SM Mall of Asia in Manila on May 31.

“ONE FC: Rise to Power” will feature two world title fights, as well as the final of the Bantamweight Grand Prix.

In the main event, the first ever Filipino to win a world title with ONE FC, Honorio Banario, will be defending his featherweight belt against Japanese veteran Koiji Oishi. There will also be an interim bantamweight belt on the line when Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes takes on another Japanese fighter, Koetsu Okazaki.

The other fight which will have silverware at stake sees Masakatsu Ueda take on Kevin Belingon in a match to determine the winner of the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix. Fighters from eight countries entered the competition, with the Japanese veteran and the up-and-coming Filipino contender set to face off in the final after each seeing off two separate opponents.

In total there will be five Philippine fighters on the card and all of them train at Team Lakay in Baguio, which is fast emerging as one of the top camps in Asia.

Belingon and Banario will be joined by teammates Rey Docyogen, Eduard Folayang and Geje Eustaquio, with all of them facing foreign opposition.

The biggest fight of the night, in terms of the size of the participants at least, sees two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia take on former King of the Cage heavyweight champion Tony Johnson Jr in an all-American matchup between two men likely to weight 120kg each.

ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui said that it could be the biggest show his promotion has put on yet.

“The stacked fight card is sure to get the adrenaline pumping for the passionate Filipino fight fans. This event could possibly be the largest in ONE FC’s history and close to 20,000 fans will pack out the SM Mall of Asia Arena to witness the greatest sporting spectacle in the world,” Cui said.

Also in action on May 31 will be UFC and Pride veteran Phil Baroni, and current King of the Cage light middleweight champion Lowen Tynanes.

The first three fights will be available to watch online free of charge, while the entire 10-fight card can be viewed for US$9.99.

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