MANILA, Philippines – One Fighting Championship: Pride of a Nation card in partnership with local MMA outfit Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) had a rousing debut in the Philippines with mostly electrifying fights at the Smart Araneta Colisuem last night.
With a roster if international talents making up the card, fight fans had their fix of MMA action at the historic Big Dome.
"I'm very happy we have a sold-out venue, Filipino's winning, Folayang and Kelly winning impressively. Fans here are awesome. I'm very happy to be here to take MMA to a whole new level for Filipino fans," said One FC CEO Victor Cui.
Those who saw action included former UFC veterans and champions Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski, Jens "Lil Evil" Pulver, Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia and from the Royal Family of MMA, Rolles, Gregor and Igor Gracie alongside local MMA heroes Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang and Eric "The Natural" Kelly.
Rising star Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandez of Brazil took on Australia’s Gustavo Falciroli in the main event.
The night started with the introduction of the all the fighters ramping up to the cage that rocked the house with a raucous reception, turning the venue into a festive affair.
Arlovski and Folayang were introduced to the most thunderous applause, with the Belarusian Arlovski wearing an "I love Philippines" shirt to the delight of the crowd.
There were also fireworks inside the Big Dome to signal the start of the card with a preview of the upcoming action shown on a big screen.
Celebrities spotted in the event, which ended around 1 a.m., included Bianca King, Luigi Trillo, Bubbles Paraiso, Doug Kramer, Cheska Garcia-Kramer and Isabel Oli.
Filipino fighters Folayang and Kelly were rewarded with title shots after their impressively winning their respective bouts.
"This is a great event. We showed how tough our Pinoy fighters are," said URCC president Alvin Aguilar.
Here is the recap of last night’s fights:
Bibiano "The Flash" Fernandez (AMC Pankration) defeats Gustavo Falciroli (Godoi Jiu-Jitsu Club) by unanimous decision after three rounds
The main event saw rising star Bibiano dominating the fight on the ground, showcasing his grappling and wrestling skills.
Despite the efforts of the veteran Gustavo, "The Flash" proved to be too much for the Australian, who eked out unanimous decision victory.
Eduard Folayang (Team Lakay) defeats Felipe Enomoto (Enomoto Dojo by unanimous decision after three rounds.
Local hero Folayang did not disappoint and upheld the event's theme, showcasing Philippines pride. Folayang pressed the action throughout the fight, stalking Enomoto stalked him for the whole night with a series of kicks, punches, elbows throwing every arsenal he could find with his bag of tricks.
The Japanese was never in rhythm and was clearly out if his comfort zone as Folayang hacks out a unanimous decision win.
After the fight, Cui announced that Folayang will battle in the Oct. 6 card of One FC for the lightweight title.
Andrei Arlovski (Jackson's MMA) vs Tim Sylvia (Team Extreme/Champions Gym) ruled a No Contest due to illegal kicks by Arlovski.
The fourth chapter to the heated rivalry between these heavy weight behemoths ended with a whimper after some furious action in the first round.
The bout was declared a no contest after Arlovski landed heavy blows that staggered Sylvia badly. Sylvia fell to the ground after a vicious right hand by Arlovski, but was the Belarusian kicked his fallen foe in the head twice.
After a mandatory five-minute rest for Sylvia, the former UFC champion was pronounced to have been unable to fight, leading to the no contest.
Eric ”The Natural” Kelly (Muayfit) defeats Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver by TKO (Team Extreme) at 1:42 of Round 2.
The undefeated Kelly was facing his toughest competition yet against former UFC champion Pulver, who is known for his striking power. This could easily be the fight of the night with action-packed sequences, as both fighters went for each other's throats, hurting and even knocking each other to the ground with clinical and effective striking.
With furious exchanges between the two gladiators, Kelly destroyed the American's hope of a huge comeback with an impressive knockout in the second round.
After the bout and impressive performance from "The Natural", Pulver addressed the crowd: "Your boy right here is the Manny Pacquiao of MMA"
It was announced after the bout that Kelly will go up against Honorio Banario for the One FC featherweight belt at the "Rise of Kings" event to be held on October 6 in Singapore.
"The New York Badass" Phil Baroni (American Kickboxing Academy) defeats Rodrigo "Ximbica" Ribeiro (Evolve MMA) by KO at 1:00 of Round 1.
At the onset of the bout, Baroni unleashed a stinging punch that rocked Ribeiro, knocking him out for an impressive win.
Gregor Gracie (Renzo Gracie Academy) defeats Nicholas "The Apprentice" Mann (Hybrid Yaw-Yan) by submission (armbar) at 3:26 minutes of Round 1.
Mann and Gregor started the fight feeling each other out, jabbing while trying to find their rhythm and reach. But Gregor lived up to his surname's legacy, employing a full mount and masterfully using an armbar to win via submission.
Soo Chul Kim (Team Force) defeats Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon (Team Lakay) by unanimous decision after three rounds.
Kim dominated the fight on the ground showing superior grappling skills coupled with the slow start from the Filipino. Kim took the fight to the ground almost at will. Belingon gained the upperhand in the final round with Kim gassed out badly. It was not enough and the Korean came away with a unanimous decision win.
"Stone Cutter" Jung Hwan Cha defeats Igor Gracie (Renzo Gracie Academy) by TKO at 1:03 minutes of Round 3.
Cha, hailed as a hero in South Korea, revved up the crowd with his entrance music using the phenomenal and viral music of Psy's “Gangnam Style”. While Igor of the royal family was all business. This is probably be the most competitive bout of the night with both fighters battling in a high level match of grappling, ground fighting and wrestling.
Both fighters went into a virtual chess match in the cage, physically outmaneuvering each other on the ground and on their feet. In the end, the charismatic Cha got the better of Igor, knocking out the fatigued Brazilian in the third round.
Rolles Gracie (Renzo Gracie Academy) defeats Tony "The Gun" Bonello (King of the Cage) by rear-naked chokehold at 3:27 minutes of Round 3.
With the Gracie family going 1-1 so far in the night, it is up Rolles to save the day for the Royal MMA family. Rolles did not disappoint with his great takedown and striking abilities, choking Bonello in the third round for the submission win.
Shannon "One Shin" Wiratchai (Burn Shell Team) defeats Mitch "The Dragon" Chilson by TKO at 2:12 minutes of Round 2.
Chilson took an early takedown and dominated most of the first round with his great takedown skill.
The second round started with fireworks as both fighters figured in a furious exchange. But in what seemed like a victory for Chilson was nullified by a brilliant counter right hook from "One Shin," staggering the American and effectively ending the bout.
Honorio "The Rock" Banario (Team Lakay) defeats Andrew Benibe (Maics Gym) by TKO at 3:47 minutes of Round 3.
Banario won the first fight of the night against Benibe, showing his full arsenal and dominating every facet of the mat game with his superb striking, grappling and wrestling skills. The URCC lightweight champion also unleashed a barrage of blows to take out Benibe in the third round.