May 5, 2014

Last week on MMA in Manila. Aka my coverage of the Rise of Heroes tournament.


The view from cage-side at the MOA Arena.



One FC returns to the Philippines, bannered by fighters with stories

March 18, 2014 9:36pm

The fighters walked on-stage in three-piece suits, dapper and composed. Current Bantamweight champ Bibiano Fernandes in particular, whose speed and agility made him a six-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, seemed restrained in slate grey, a portrait of power at rest.

Fernandes and other mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters are in Manila to promote the upcoming ONE FC: Rise of Heroes to be held on May 2, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

At the press con held on the morning of Tuesday, at the MOA Atrium, ONE FC’s CEO Victor Cui took the time to emphasize the narratives of the fighters beyond their training and the cage.

“I want to share with you the stories of our fighters that make ONE FC a great organization,” Cui said. “The fighters and their corner men are some of the greatest men that I’ve ever met, and they have amazing stories.”

Cui stated that one of the best stories happened in Malaysia, a week previous, at the War of Nations tournament. The main event for that night was for the Welterweight belt, where Japanese fighter Nobutatsu Suzuki went up against American wrestler Brock Larson.

At that fight, Suzuki eventually won by unanimous decision though, early on, Larson asserted his wrestling credentials by taking Suzuki down and landing several elbows in the first round. Suzuki enjoyed success with his accurate knees in the second round. By the fourth and fifth rounds Suzuki’s knees were the story and it was likely those significant strikes to Larson’s midsection that had cemented the judges’ unanimous decision for the inaugural Welterweight title.

“Suzuki is also a full-time lawyer,” smiled Cui. “Hours before he fought he was in his office e-mailing and doing work. He fought his heart out last Friday [in the Malaysia event] and won a world championship. On Saturday he flew back to Japan and on Sunday sent me a picture with him in a suit, his new [championship] belt on his shoulder, and his face mashed. He was sitting in front of his computer working…he’s the kind of champion we can relate to, the kind that has a day job.”



Filipino fighters ready for combat at ONE FC: Rise of Heroes

May 1, 2014 10:34pm
“Mabuhay, Pilipinas!” exclaimed Fil-Am fighter Ana Julaton and the gathered crowd at the the Mall of Asia Atrium erupts into cheers.Julaton is a familiar face in combat sports, having conquered the boxing world as the first boxer of Fil-American descent to win the Women’s WBO Super Bantamweight and IBA Super Bantamweight titles. Not content with her supremacy in striking, the fighter nicknamed “The Hurricane” will make her mixed martial arts debut on Friday, May 2 against Egyptian kickboxing champion, Aya Saeid Saber.

It’s still an open question whether Julaton’s vastly superior footwork will prove better than the varied striking of Saber, but the bout is no doubt an exciting and highly-anticipated one in Asia’s growing MMA distaff division.

ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui described the Julaton-Saber fight as “explosive” as both love to engage. “Filipinos and MMA fans around the world will surely like this match between two explosive fighters on May 2,” he said.

Julaton is just one of five Pinoy fighters in tomorrow’s card to make weight for ONE FC: Rise of Heroes to be held on Friday, at the MOA Arena, with a card top-billed by the featherweight title fight between reigning champ Bibiano Fernandes and Masaketsu Ueda.




Fernandes retains title, Pinoy fighters sweep ONE FC: Rise of Heroes

May 3, 2014 10:37am
The night belonged to Pinoy pride, even as the Brazilian champ, Bibiano Fernandes made another successful title defense, at ONE FC’s “Rise of Heroes” at the Mall of Asia Arena, Friday.Momentum was with the Filipino fighters early on as Jujeath Nagaowa, former WBO Atomweight Champion, put the beating on India’s baby-faced kickboxer Jeet Toshi in the first undercard of the night, ending her debut with a flurry of punches that forced the referee to declare it a TKO.

Fil-Am boxing champ Ana Julaton was emotional as she got her arm raised in a victory that was hard-won, fought with aggression and technicality. Julaton and Aya Saed Saber, an Egyptian kickboxer with likely one of the coolest names in MMA, stalked each other like wolverines across the cage and exchanged strikes with aplomb.

Saber threw her legs up repeatedly with chokes and repeated submission attempts as Julaton displayed a great wrestling game. An emphatic slam, executed Rampage Jackson-style, got her out of a particularly tight guillotine attempt, before eventually getting a mount and finishing Saber with classic ground and pound moves. With the loudest ovation of the night, this victory is exhibit- A for Julaton’s promising potential in MMA, as well as a forceful, defining debut.

The Baguio fighters of Team Lakay had less dramatic, though no less stellar wins.


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