After selling out the Stadium Negara in Malaysia, ONE Fighting Championship is headed to the Philippines for what promises to be the most ambitious show the promotion has put on yet. The 16,500 capacity Arenata Coliseum is best known for playing host to the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975 and on August 31st, mixed martial arts (MMA) is set for its own 'Thriller in Manila'.
MMA is very popular in the Philippines with ONE FC regularly screened on ESPN and Star Sports, the UFC on the Balls Channel and URCC on Solar Sports. It is possible to watch the sport practically every night and the country is also a proven breeding ground for some of the region's most exciting fighters.
URCC champions Eduard Folayang (11-2), Roy Docyogen (10-0), Kevin Belingon (9-1). Eric Kelly (7-0) and Honorio Banario (6-1) are all likely to be in action which should give the fans plenty to cheer about while the card is also expected to see the ONE FC debut of legendary lightweight Shinya Aoki.
ONE FC has made phenomenal progress since being formed just 12 months ago and has already put on events in Singapore, Jakarta and, most recently, Kuala Lumpur. A major MMA show had never been attempted in Malaysia before but ONE FC was able to sell out the biggest indoor arena in the country at the first attempt.
At the end of a weekend which featured a wealth of MMA action the major talking point was not the two UFC cards, Bellator 71 or Fedor Emelianenko's retirement fight but Zorobabel Moreira's brutal soccer kick KO of Roger Huerta at ONE FC: 'Destiny of Warriors.'
It was testament to how far ONE FC has come in a short space of time and the next card looks set to be the most exciting and ambitious yet. Dana White has been talking about putting on a show in the Philippines for over four years now, progress has been painfully slow with no date set at the time of writing but for frustrated Filipino fight fans the wait for a major international MMA show will soon be over.
The URCC is the longest running promotion in South East Asia and the most successful promotion in the Philippines. It celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and the organizer's will work hand in hand with ONE FC to put on this event which will probably feature most of the URCC champions as well as some other fighters such as Geje Eustaquio and Ole Laursen.
Phil Baroni has already tweeted that he expects to be involved and it is possible that the fight with Roger Huerta, which was originally set for ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors, could be rescheduled for August 31st. Folayang vs Laursen was one of the best fights Asian MMA has witnessed this year and while a rematch is believed to be in the works it is likely both fighters will face different opponents in Manila.
Speaking to media in Kuala Lumpur ONE FC CEO / Owner Victor Cui also shed some light on his plans for the future and revealed that there will be 18 shows in 2013. They will take place in nine different Asian cities with each destination hosting a ONE FC show roughly every six months.
Also lost in the pre fight publicity for last Saturday's ONE FC show was the news that the promotion had struck a lucrative deal with car manufacturer Chevrolet. Elsewhere MMA might be in danger of stagnating but in Asia the sport is growing at a staggering rate and ONE FC is at the forefront of this phenomenon.