BRAZIL’S Bibiano Fernandes faces Australia’s Gustavo Falciroli in the main event but focus will be on five Filipinos featured in the One Fighting Championship: Pride of a Nation card on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Eduard Folayang, one of the country’s most popular mixed martial artists, headlines the cast of Pinoys as he takes on Swiss-Japanese Felipe Enomoto in the lightweight division in the main undercard.
Baguio-born Eric Kelly faces the toughest challenge yet of his career as he takes on UFC legend Jens Pulver in a featherweight fight.
Up-and-coming Pinoy MMA fighther Kevin Belingon tries to recover from his first career loss when he collides with South Korean Soo Chul Kim in the bantamweight division.
The 24-year-old Belingon’s nine-fight winning streak was snapped in One FC 3 last March when he lost to Japanese Masakuza Imanari.
Andrew Benibe and Honorio Banario face each other in a featherweight bout.
Another highly anticipated fight is the matchup between heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia.
Arlovski and Sylvia, both former UFC heavyweight titlists, have met thrice before, with the latter having a 2-1 edge.
“You can really see the personal beef between Arlovski and Sylvia,” Cui said after the traditional stare-down during the weigh-in, when the two bruisers engaged in trash-talking before getting separated.
Heated moments also took place between former UFC fighter Phil Baroni and Rodrigo Ribiero during their own stare-down.
Three members of the legendary Gracie family, the founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, are also slated to see action.
Rolles Gracie takes on Tony Bonello in the heavyweight class. Igor Gracie locks horns with Korean Jung Hwan Cha in the welterweight division, while Gregor Gracie will be pitted against Nicholas Mann at a catch weight of 80 kilograms.
A featherweight fight pitting Mitch Chilson and Shannon Wiratchai completes the 11-fight card.
Organizers initially announced thatDream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki was to fight in the card but it was later learned the Japanese fighter will instead see action in a different event in October.
One FC CEO Victor Cui said they are holding the event in Manila because of the Big Dome, where numerous historic sports events have taken place, including the 'Thrilla in Manila' in 1975 featuring Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
“That’s exactly why we held it here,” Cui, a Canadian businessman, said after the official weigh-in ceremony on Thursday morning. “I wanted to make a statement and be in the historical Araneta and now One FC’s making history.”
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