Martial arts – the Filipino way of life
Jade Sanchez (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2014 - 12:25pm

The Philippines is not just home to beautiful beaches and world-class boxers, it also boasts a wide variety of martial art techniques, making it a nation where fighting is inherent in the culture. The need to develop or learn a martial art for survival started to become indispensable for Filipinos since centuries ago when the threats of foreign invaders came into existence. Up until today, the warrior within them remains evident with the production of world-class boxers and more recently, skilled mixed martial artists.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the Philippines is getting bigger as the level of competition also gets tougher. Gone were the days when fighters would enter the cage or the ring armed only with stand up game. Just like the sport itself, the fighters have evolved and they are now equipped with all the tools to compete at the highest level.

The resounding success of MMA in general through giant promotions like the UFC, ONE FC, Bellator and WSOF, gives the growing number of fans a different perspective of the sport that was once labeled as barbaric. While boxing remains on top as far as popularity goes in the Philippines, MMA is catching up rapidly. MMA gyms are starting to sprout all over the country and MMA gears like t-shirts are selling like hotcakes. Many Filipinos are now also starting to learn Jiu Jitsu and other martial art style while home-grown fighters like Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon and others are enjoying a newfound popularity too. All this is a giant leap forward for a country that worships basketball and boxing.

From the beginning

When measuring the level of success of MMA in the country, one has to take a step back and look at the very first MMA promotion that invested time and money to kick-start the sport. The Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) promotion, founded by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Alvin Aguilar, ventured into the sport when it was totally foreign for local fans. MMA wasn’t as popular as it is today so it was pure determination to promote the sport that surprisingly attracted 5,000 fans on their very first event. URCC remains the biggest local promotion in the Philippines even today and they have plans of getting even bigger.

Some of the international MMA promotions to penetrate Philippine market are the Pacific Fighting Championship of Guam, King of the Cage of USA and making the biggest impact on the market is One Fighting Championship of Singapore. Ultimate Fighting Championship of the USA is also rumored ironing out their plans of holding an event in the country this year.

When One FC, the biggest MMA promotion in all of Asia, was officially launched on July 2011, it came as no surprise that the Philippines was already in their radar and on August 2012, a staggering 12,523 hardcore fans swarmed in at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to watch their first Manila event live. They have come back twice since then racking up even more impressive numbers, 15, 872 and 16, 398 respectively. Now that they are set to return back, expect an incredible increase in numbers as Filipino fans have been waiting for this moment to watch another action-packed event in their backyard.

A sport made for fans

May 2 is the date when Filipinos will once again experience a stacked card guaranteed to put them at the edge of their seats from the get-go and just when you think euphoria has reached its highest state, a championship bout will close out the show. The 20,000-capacity Mall of Asia Arena in Manila is the venue for the event dubbed as “One FC: Rise of Heroes.” Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes, who is currently on a 7-fight winning streak, puts his belt on the line against Bantamweight Grand Prix winner, Masakatsu Ueda, who is also on a tear since signing with the ONE FC.

Tickets for One FC: Rise of Heroes are on sale now at SM Tickets ( Ticket categories begin with the full Red Carpet and cageside experience for VIPs at PHP 6,360 followed by Patron at PHP 3,180, Lower Box PHP 1,280, Upper Box at PHP 640 and General Admission at PHP 220.

Martial arts is an integral part of the DNA of every Filipino, thus, the propensity to get pulled in to a combat sport that includes punching, kicking, grappling and the whole nine yards. Now that One FC is set to make a comeback, expect the diehard fans and lots of new fans to be there when the action happens.

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