FILIPINO MMA fighter Edward Folayang of Team Lakay in Baguio will defend his ONE lightweight world championship title this Friday night at the Arena in Mall of Asia against Malaysian Ev E.T. Ting, an event that is expected to attract anew local MMA fans to the venue.
It is too bad though that I am sure I will not make it to MOA on Friday night due to a previous engagement in Mandaluyong as I am a member of the city’s Peace and Order Council that meets every Friday night and I certainly would not reach Arena on time for the media registration that starts at 6 p.m. because of the usual Friday night traffic.
At least my son JM, who has been a long time MMA fan, even wrestling when he was still a kid, will be there as he already bought his ticket for the fight.
While for me, I have to content myself with writing this advancer, after all, I made it to the press conference to hype up the fight held at the City of Dreams, with the fighters staying at Nobu Hotel, COD and One Championship have been partnering for three years already and I know that a post fight party will be held late night at this entertainment center .
It was a well attended presscon with bloggers outnumbering the print media people present but then social media is now a powerful promotion medium and I do not have any problem with that.
There werefour other fighters aside from Folayang and Ting who were presented to the media, two females, Filipina Gina Iniong, whom I interviewed afterwards, and Fil-foreign Natalie Gonzales Hills, plus supporting bout fighter Christian Lee and Wan Jian Ping from China, with Loren Mack doing the presentations.
From the way he introduced Folayang, it was obvious that this local fighter has indeed impressed ONE Championship, as according to Loren, Folayang has developed a global appeal already to fight fans both for him humble demeanor and his no-nonsense fighting style that has earned him the lightweight crown at the expense of legendary Japanese fighter Shinya Aoki, a fight where no one gave a chance to our fighter until he pulled off that magnificent upset victory that made him the second Filipino world champion in MMA, the first one being heavyweight Brandon Vera.
I was able to ask questions for Folayang and his opponent , the first one was whether the six -year age gap between them, Folayang is 33, Ting is 27, will be a factor.
And according to Ting, in this sport and with those ages, it will not matter at all saying both of them are at their peak as fighters, Folayang though says that having more experience is advantage for him.
I also threw a question at Folayang in Pilipino as before the Q & A, he spoke to the media mostly in Pilipino so that his opponent will not understand what he was saying, bottom line for him, he has trained hard for this and is ready for a quick finish or go through the full five rounds, adding he has prepared for Ting’s strength which is striking.
Of course the fact that he is now a brand new father is another motivation for him.
For Ting, the fact that he had just fought last February does not bother him at all, saying he is a prizefighter and as such is ready to fight anytime with any one, i just hope he picked the wrong opponent come this Friday when he meets Folayang, a SEA Games gold medalist in wushu.
The two other male fighters there, Lee and Ping, well, they spouted the usual fighting words particularly the Chinese fighter, a former military man back home, but then my attention was more focused on the two girls, after all, they were both pretty and how often can you meet pretty girls whose sport is a no holds barred mixed martial arts.
Natalie, who traces her roots in Cavite before she moved to England, is more an all around athlete having started karate-do, gymnastics, swimming, ice hockey, boxing, muay thai, when she moved to Thailand, , then finally MMA as a form of self defense, at the same time that she could not find muay thai fights when she relocated to Australia, and two years ago, ended up joining ONE Championship.
But even with her being a half Filipina, I certainly would go for Gina, 27 years old whom I ambushed after the fomal presscon and I asked her if she does not worry at all when she steps into the cage with somebody whose only intention is to maim her, and with her good looks .
I was really surprised that she could even think of choosing this as a sport, and now as a career.
Her reply to my question was that she has accepted fully that getting hurt in any sport is normal, but then i told her in MMA, you jack up the chances that you can get hurt seriously, but then with the motivation of becoming a future world champion, Gina has fully accepted the risk she is taking every time she fights, and her record as of now is 4 wins, 2 losses.
I guess the fact that she spars daily with the likes of Folayang and Honorio Banario when in training in Baguio simply proves that indeed, this lady is willing to fight and put her pretty face at risk, oh and by the way, she is already taken as she shared that she already has a boyfriend, a seaman who has accepted the fact that his girlfriend is a serious MMA fighter.
The truth for me, it is not only Gina who is risking bodily harm whenever she fights, her boyfriend too is risking the same thing if he dares mess around with Gina.
By the way, I took a picture of Gina with me and shared it with my FB friends, colleague Dennis Principe was asking if I wanted to spar with Gina, I told him I will graciously give way to him and to other macho guys who would dare to do that, outside of her male Team Lakay team mates of course.
So for local MMA fans, this is the chance to see world class fighters, our boys included, this Friday at The Arena and see for yourself if what Loren was saying that the Philippines, without doubt, will produce more world fighters in this sport.
On their part, ONE Championship will continue bringing fights not only to Manila but now is already planning to hold MMA events in Cebu, a place I would say where MMA fighting will be a hit.
I will certainly tell my son to be there early so he can text me right away who will win between Gina and Natalie, and on the side, who will prevail between Folayang and Ting, Ha Ha Ha.