ONE FC has confirmed it would be returning to Manila on May 31 with a show taking place at the 20,000 capacity Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena, headlined by a featherweight world title fight between Honorio Banario vs. Bae Young Kwon.
The card is also set to feature DREAM Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes and Filipino fan favorite Eduard Folayang, who has been training in the U.S. as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Lowen Tynanes last November.
ONE FC's first show in Manila took place at the 16,500 capacity Araneta Coliseum last August but the response from the fans was so good that Victor Cui decided to move to the brand new MOA Arena which was only constructed last year and is the biggest indoor arena in the country.
Banario will be making the first defence of the belt which he won at ONE FC: "Return of Kings" in Kuala Lumpur this February courtesy of a fourth round TKO win over fellow Filipino Eric Kelly. He is taking on Korean featherweight Kwon who is the only man to defeat him in his MMA career to date.
Banario (8-1) was submitted by Kwon (7-3) early in the opening round of their fight at ONE FC: "Battle of Heroes" in Jakarta last year but there were extenuating circumstances as the Team Lakay standout was fighting at 145 lbs for the first time in his career, having competed exclusively at 159 lbs up to that point, and took the fight on only two weeks notice.
Kwon saw a three fight win streak, which had seen him register wins over Brian Choi and Kyung Ho Kang as well as Banario, interrupted by a decision defeat to Kelly at ONE FC: "Destiny of Warriors." That fight was extremely close and competitive with a yellow card shown to the Korean for multiple illegal blows potentially proving the difference on the scorecards.
Fernandes (13-3) was the subject of a promotional tug of war between ONE FC and the UFC but elected to sign with Asia's biggest MMA promotion. He defeated naturalized Australian Gustavo Falciroli in the main event of the last ONE FC card in Manila and has won 12 out of his last 13 fights, coming off a very impressive submission win over DEEP Bantamweight Champion Yoshiro Maeda at DREAM 12 on New Year's Eve.
No opponent has been announced at the time of writing but with such a strong record Fernandes is believed to be in pole position to fight for the ONE FC bantamweight belt which is currently held by Soo Chul Kim. There is also a ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix ongoing so the Brazilian might have to wait in line for the winner of that to get a title shot.
Also without an opponent is Folayang who has been training in the U.S. with the likes of Robert Drysdale as he looks to get his ground game and wrestling up to speed. The event will be broadcast live all over Asia by Star Sports and is sponsored by Casino Filipino.