Details are gradually starting to emerge about the lineup for the star-studded ONE FC: 'Pride of a Nation' show which is taking place in Manila on August 31st. Former Strikeforce champion Renato Sobral is already confirmed as are current DREAM champions Shinya Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes.
The event will be the biggest in the history of Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) and is taking place in the 16,500 capacity Areneta Coliseum which famously hosted the 'Thrilla in Manila', the 1975 fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.
Gregor Gracie, Igor Gracie and Rolles Gracie will also be in action as will UFC, Pride and Strikeforce veteran Phil Baroni. One fighter who will not feature is Ole Laursen who according to the ONE FC facebook feed is no longer on the card.
After employing Chris John as a 'brand ambassador' in Indonesia earlier this year rumour has it that ONE FC are in discussions with Manny Pacquiao with a view to having him attend next week's press conference as well as the event itself. The boxer is friendly with a few of the Baguio based fighters including Eric Kelly who he has trained with at a boxing gym there in the past.
Further details about the card will be announced at the official press conference which is scheduled for the Discovery Hotel in Pasig City, Manila on July 18th and is likely to be attended by the likes of Aoki, Fernandes and Arlovski.
Negotiations with another former UFC champion, Jens Pulver, are believed to be at an advanced stage with a view to him fighting one of the Filipino fighters at ONE FC: 'Pride of a Nation'. Another fight reportedly in the mix is the one between Sobral and Manhoef which has originally been scheduled for Singapore in March but as of now no matchups are confirmed.
To the best of my knowledge none of the fighters below are facing one another so there are currently 11 blanks which will be hopefully be filled in at the press conference next Wednesday. Regardless of what the final card looks like with two DREAM champions, two former UFC champions, a former Strikeforce champion and three URCC champions it is set to be one of the most momentous events of the Asian MMA year.