MANILA, Philippines – After the National Basketball Association, it’s the turn of the Ultimate Fighting Championship to come to the Philippines next year.
UFC Asia chief Mark Fischer today said there is a strong chance the UFC, the best and most popular fight organization in the world today, finally gets to hold a fight card in the country next year after some failed attempts in the past few years.
"I'd like to remind everyone that this is no commitment but I predict, with help of good partners like ABS-CBN and Balls, fans and the media, the UFC will bring a fight card to Manila in 2014," said Fischer in today's press conference at the ELJ Building in Quezon City.
Filipino middleweight contender Mark Munoz accompanied Fischer to the press conference.
Top Balls channel officials headed by Jojo Estacio and Fischer are expected to meet with the Mall of Asia people hoping to hold the planned 2014 UFC event at the MOA Arena, where a historic first NBA pre-season game pitting the Indiana Pacers with the Houston Rockets is slated on Oct. 10.
"If plans don't miscarry, it will push through," said Estacio.
And Fischer hopes Munoz, who is fighting Tim Boetsch in UFC 162 on July 7 (Phl time) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, will headline the UFC fight card being planned to be staged here.
"If it happens, we'd like a Filipino like Mark Munoz to be in the main card, that would be a spectacle to see," said Fischer.
And the 35-year-old Munoz, called "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" in the UFC, showed nothing but excitement.
"I hope to God it happens. It will be an honor to fight before our countrymen because I'm every bit a Filipino," said Munoz, whose father hails from Bicol and mother from Sta. Ana, Manila, where he spent time to bond on his first visit to the Philippines last year.
The UFC has recently been aggressive in experimenting with the Asian market, having held fight cards in Japan twice and Macau, China once.
The company has plans of staging about seven more cards in the next two years.
"If you're going to ask me, the Phl is ranked in the top three in the UFC's Asian Market next to Japan and Korea, countries which we all know have traditionally great fighters," said Fischer. "Now we see talented fighters from the Phl knocking on our doors and we know there are going to be more Mark Munoz in the UFC."
MMA has been a hit in the country the past few years having fight outfits like locally based Universal Reality Combat Championship, Guam-based Pacific X-Treme Combat and Singapore-based ONE Fighting Championship successful events in the Phl.