Lethwei, also known as Burmese bareknuckle boxing, is steadily gaining popularity.
Gerald Ng, chief executive officer of World Lethwei Championship, said Filipinos could succeed in the "art of nine limbs."
“The Philippines is a hotbed for combat sports and the fans are some of the most passionate in the world. Filipino combat sports athletes have all the skills to translate well into Lethwei," said Ng.
"I truly believe that there could be a Filipino world champion in Lethwei in the near future.”
Since its inaugural event, the promotion has held almost 20 sold-out events across Myanmar. Its success has attracted the biggest names in the martial arts industry to join the organization, including Canadian superstar Dave Leduc and Filipino-Australian sensation Michael Badato.
After solidifying its stature in Myanmar, the WLC sets it sights on extending its global reach. One of its targets? Manila.
Here are four of the country’s homegrown fighters, who could create a huge impact as part of WLC.
Jean Claude Saclag
A Filipino wushu practitioner, Saclag is a member of the famed Team Lakay. He won a silver medal in the 2014 Asian Games and turned heads in the recently concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
He competed in ONE Championship's super series against Mohammed bin Mahmoud, dominating the Malaysian.
Ariel Lee Lampacan
Hailing from the province of Benguet where the Team Lakay is based, Lampacan was hailed as the best junior Muay Thai practitioner at the 2013 Batang Pinoy.
As part of the national Muay Thai team, he represented the country at various international tournaments such as the 2019 SEA Games, where he won gold.
Besides his remarkable standing in Muay Thai, Lampacan also owns an impressive mixed martial arts (MMA) record of 4-1 as part of the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC).
Jakiri, a 6-time Philippine national Muay Thai champio, is remembered for his highlight-reel victory under the Kunlun Fight banner in April 2014 when he made quick work of former OPBF Intercontinental titlist Ou Yang. He knocked his Chinese opponent out cold with a high kick and a follow-up overhand right in the first round.
Biagtan is among the new breed of prizefighters deemed as the future of Philippine combat sports.
The 25-year-old won the URCC strawweight title in just his third MMA fight as a pro. He also experienced fighting in Japan's Rizin 15 back in 2019, squaring off with Japanese kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa. Biagtan likewise dabbled in boxing, effortlessly putting away Uzbekistan’s Shekhnazar Yusubov in the second round in 2018.