Sports Unlimited: 'Pride of a Nation' fighters

Posted at 10/01/2012 6:21 PM | Updated as of 10/04/2012 12:43 PM

Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts organization, One Fighting Championship, rocked the Big Dome for the first time on August 31, 2012.

The ONE FC fight card included big names and rising stars of mixed martial arts (MMA). Aptly titled “Pride of a Nation,” it featured some of our country’s best MMA fighters who were out to prove that when it comes to fighting, they could battle it out with the best in the world.

The line-up included MMA superstars: heavyweight champs Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, former UFC champion Jens Pulver, Phil Baroni, and brothers Rolles, Igor and Gregor Gracie.

Hailing from the royal family of mixed martial arts, the trio came to the Philippines for the first time to fight for a shot at a title and to bring honor to their family name.

Our very own brave Pinoy highlanders also got into the ONE FC cage. Proudly hailing from the Cordilleras, the line-up included Universal Reality Combat Championship titleholders Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang, Eric "The Natural" Kelly, Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon and Honorio  "The Rock" Banario.

Come fight night, Araneta Coliseum was a full house as Pinoy MMA fans came to see for themselves the raw intensity of a live cage fight.

The much-awaited collision between mixed martial arts' heavy kings Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski delighted fans even as their match ended with a no-contest ruling.
 
Sylvia scored more connections at the start of their fight with Arlovski struggling to keep up in points. A lucky break, however, gave the Belarusian the chance to score with his fists against the giant Sylvia.

Trying to bank on a downed Sylvia, Arlovski connected with a kick to the American's head. After deliberation, judges ruled their match a "no-contest" as a kick to a grounded opponent is not allowed under ONE FC's rules.
 
The Gracie brothers scored 2 for 3 with Gregor and Rolles, scoring wins against their respective opponents. Only Igor Gracie faced a solid wall when he went up against Korean Jung Hwan Cha.
 
Igor and Jung were a perfect match-up. They have the same height and built, and both were fierce in their determination to score a win. It was the Korean's first time to fight out of his country and Igor, the jiu-jitsu expert, tried to bank on his expertise on the ground, not expecting Jung's solid defense against Igor's attempts for submission holds.
 
As Igor ran out of gas, Jung aimed for the kill with his mighty blows, scoring his first ONE FC win via TKO.

His brothers' fates were different--Rolles scored a win with a rear-naked choke against Tony Bonello. Meanwhile, Gregor, the youngest of the three, won by sending URCC light heavyweight champ Nicholas Mann tapping with an arm-bar hold.

Leading the pack of Team Lakay was our very own MMA hero Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang who went up against Swiss-Japanese Felipe Enomoto.

Folayang stayed true to his billing as being the pride of a nation, demolishing Enomoto systematically with strikes and legendary kicks. Folayang earned the judges' nod with a unanimous decision.

Team Lakay's Honorio Banario also scored another win for Team Lakay against fellow countryman Andrew Benibe of Maic's Gym. Banario won via technical knock out (TKO) after overwhelming Benibe with Team Lakay's signature wushu technique of kicks and punches.

Eric Kelly scored the biggest win for the Philippines when he beat former UFC lightweight champ Jens Pulver. The Baguio native, now based in Malaysia's Muayfit Gym, showed that he has come a long way from being a humble taxi driver.

Kelly can now proudly say that he is among the world's fiercest lightweight fighters, maintaining his immaculate record after beating Pulver via TKO.

Kelly, a former wushu national team member, overwhelmed the fearsome American striker with kicks and punches. The referee stopped the fight at 1 minute and 46 seconds of the second round, after Pulver failed to defend himself. Kelly will now face Banario for the ONE FC lightweight title this coming October.

Also keeping the crowd on their feet during that fight night at the Big Dome was Phil Baroni. He quickly disposed of his Brazilian opponent Rodrigo Ribiero of Evolve MMA. The jiu-jitsu expert was no match for Baroni's powerful punches. The referee stopped the fight at just one minute of the first round, much to the delight of the fans.

The success of the ONE FC Pride of a Nation left Pinoy MMA fans clamoring for more. However, even as the event ended past midnight, fans left the Big Dome more than satisfied to have been a part of Philippine sports history.

Aired on September 15, 2012