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ONE FC heads back to Manila

ONE FC heads back to Manila

Honorio Banario being introduced to the Smart Araneta Coliseum crowd at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation, August 2012. Photograph: ONE FC website

ONE Fighting Championship will be returning to Manila on May 31 with a card at the 20,000 capacity Mall of Asia Arena, which will be headlined by a title fight between featherweights Honorio Banario of the Philippines and South Korea’s Bae Young Kwon.

It is the second time that Asia’s biggest MMA promotion has hosted an event in the Philippines, and it will be on an even bigger scale than ONE FC: Pride of a Nation last August, which was witnessed by 16,500 people at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Banario became the first Filipino to win a world title in MMA when he stopped compatriot Eric Kelly in the main event of ONE FC: Return of Warriors in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. The 23-year-old will be defending his title against the only man to ever beat him.

Kwon (7-3) and Banario (8-1) first fought in February last year at ONE FC: Battle of Heroes in Jakarta, which the Korean won with a submission early in the opening round. Kwon then surrendered the title to Kelly four months later.

Current champion Banario will have a chance to avenge the 2012 loss when the two meet for the second time at the MOA Arena.

Also on the card will be DREAM bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes of Brazil, regarded by many as the best 61-kilogram fighter in the world, and URCC welterweight champion Eduard Folayang, who has a huge
following in his homeland.

ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui hails from the Philippines and is looking forward to taking his Singapore-based promotion back to Manila in May.

“Our first ONE FC event in Manila was amazing and a real eye-opener to how many ONE FC fans we have in the Philippines,” he said.

“We worked with some of the biggest sponsors and companies in the country, had hundreds of media turn up at every press conference, and ONE FC brought the biggest MMA event ever to the country.

“We have now moved to an even bigger venue and [are] introducing even more fans to the sport and ONE FC.”

The May 31 card will be broadcast live to 28 Asian countries, including Cambodia, by Starsports, as well as on local channel MyTV.