ONE Fighting taps SEA for new wave of champs
SINGAPORE – The ONE Fighting Championship, a mixed martial arts organization formed only last year, is making a foothold on the Southeast Asian market and, recently, marked its entry with the participation of topnotch international and local fighters from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines in its inaugural competition last week.
ONE FC chief Victor Cui, a Fil-Canadian, has put an Indonesian fighter in Ngabdi Mulyadi, Malaysian Gianni Subba and Singaporean Bruce Loh in the fight card of the ONE FC 6 dubbed “Rise of Kings” that was held at press time last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here.
Mulyadi was set to face off with Mitch Chilson in the 145-pound division while Subba and Loh, a legend in Singapore, in a pair of fights that Cui hoped could give some aspiring fighters from these countries something to work hard for.
The Phl’s very own Kevin Belingon of Team Lakay is also one of the fighters featured in ONE FC Grand Prix where he’ll be pitted against a Russian grappler in Yusup Saadulayev in a match the Filipino considers as make or break.
“We are giving these fighters the chance to show off what they can do and, if they end up doing great, perhaps they’ll get the chance to earn themselves the world championship title belt,” Cui told The STAR.
“We want to tap the Southeat Asian market including the Phl because we know there are many good ones out there,” he added.
Of course, the Phl is already ahead of its neighbors, having sent local fighters like Eric Kelly, Eduard Folayang and Honorio Banario for a crack at a world title in the near future.
Kelly, who started out in Team Lakay in Baguio City, appeared the most promising, having stunned Ultimate Fighting Champion’s first lightweight champion “Jens Lil Evil Pulver” in ONE FC 5: Pride of a Nation at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last Aug. 31.
Kelly, a former taxi driver, bodyguard and a movie stunt man, is undefeated in eight MMA fights, first five of which came in the Phl-based URCC and the last three inside the ONE FC cage.
“We’re lucky to have someone talented and a great fighter like Eric Kelly in ONE FC and we hope to find more Eric Kellys not just in the Phl but also in Southeast Asia,” said Cui, who hinted pf plans to bring back the ONE FC to the Phl tentatively in February next year.
Banario knocked out another Filipino – Maics Gym’s Andrew Benibe – while Folayang, an Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, pulled off a unanimous win over Japanese Felipe Enomoto to both get into title contention.
Interestingly, both Banario and Folayang, like Belingon and Kelly, are with Team Lakay, a well-respected Baguio-based fight group which boasts of an assembly line of great fighters.
Fans from around the world can also witness the action online via live streaming at www.onefc.com/livestream. The first two undercard fights are available for viewing free-of-charge and the main card fights will be available for purchase at $9.99.
This month, fans can catch the previous two ONE FC events, ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors and ONE FC: Pride of a Nation, on Video on Demand (VOD) and on regional sports networks in the US.