MANILA, Philippines – Filipino fighter Mark Eddiva gets the biggest break in his young mixed martial arts (MMA) career by taking on undefeated Chinese Jumabieke Tuerxun in UFC Fight Night: Macao this weekend.
Eddiva, who remains undefeated in five MMA fights and is a two-time Southeast Asian gold medalist in wushu, has signed up with the world’s biggest MMA outfit, becoming the Philippines’ second home-grown Filipino UFC fighter.
The 28-year-old has decided to take his chances despite being out of the fight game for nearly two years.
“When Coach Mark [Sangiao] told me that UFC wants to sign me, I had huge a dilemma at that very moment because I was really focusing on finishing my studies first before returning to MMA,” he said in Zike Sugawara’s report to MMA in Asia.
Eddiva said he sought the advice of his fellow Team Lakay fighters Kevin Belingon and Eduard Folayang, his cousin, who are already fighting in UFC’s Asian counterpart, ONE FC.
“They both encouraged me to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent our flag in the UFC while I’m still young. I also prayed to God and asked for His guidance. After having some time praying and asking more people about it, I came up with the decision that I will take this opportunity and fight for the UFC,” he said.
The last time Eddiva fought was when he submitted Chinese fighter Alex Lee in January 2011 in Legend Fighting Championship.
Eddiva admitted that beating the 5-foot-6 Tuerxun won't be walk in the park, noting that the Chinese fighter remains undefeated in 14 MMA fights.
But the 5-foot-8 Filipino will be banking on his lengthier reach and punching power. He is also improving his wrestling defense, something that he had to add to his wushu skills.
“One of the key adjustments I’m making is to improve my wrestling defense. Because in Sanshou (wushu), you just have to worry about defending the takedown but in MMA, there’s different wrestling technique, especially sprawling, which you cannot do in a Sanshou match,” he explained.
The UFC Fight Night: Macao, which will serve as finale of The Ultimate Fighter: China, will feature the welterweight clash between Stun Gun Dong Hyun Kim and Jihn"The Hitman" Hathaway in the main event.
It will be aired on Balls Channel on Saturday, March 1, starting 9 pm. Balls HD will be airing its full coverage live including prelims starting 6:30 p.m.
ABS CBN Sports and Action will air the matches on Sunday, March 2, starting at 9 p.m.