LOS ANGELES – The countdown is on. In a few days some of the world’s top mixed martial artists will put on their own version of a “Thrilla in Manila” as the UFC hold its first Philippine event at the SM Mall of Asia on May 16th.
“This fight is awesome,” said UFC President Dana White. “I’m really excited about this and we’re very excited about going to the Philippines for the first time.
The main event features a lightweight showdown between two Americans: California’s Urijah Faber and New Jersey’s Frankie Edgar.
“It’s going to be nonstop action,” said Faber. “It’s going to be fast and furious. I think with both Frankie and myself were both known for having big ranks and having a lot of heart and no quit.”
“I’m excited,” said Edgar. “Obviously it’s a big fight country, Manny Pacquiao being from the there. Frazier and Ali were there and now it gets to be some UFC, some MMA, they get a little taste of us. I think we’re going to put on a show for those guys.”
While Edgar has never been to the Philippines, Faber visited Manila during a UFC event last year.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Faber. “We basically toured around and saw there’s a ton of fans there. I like how everyone spoke English there and everyone was super cool to go out there and perform and have a legendary fight against a guy like Frankie is awesome.”
Both men are familiar with the Filipino community.
Faber trains with Mark Munoz and Justin Bucholz while Edgar trains with Philippe Nover who will be on the UFC Philippines fight card.
“We share a lot of the same coaches so It’ll be good to have a familiar face, someone that’s been to the country who’s Filipino himself will help me out a little bit,” said Edgar.
Nover, the Filipino Wrecking Machine Mark Munoz, and a few Local Filipinos will also be on the card but many eyes will be on quarter-Pinay octagon girl turned TV host Arianny Celeste who’s late father is from Manila.
Fight night is more than just one night in the octagon. It’s expected to be several days of festivities with fighters meeting with fans – something these fighter are excited to be a part of especially in the Philippines.
The recent UFC 184 in Los Angeles not only brought fighters that will be on the card, but also other fighters to meet with the fans.
Open workouts are also a part of the festivities. Giving fans a front row look at how combatants prepare.
Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez is disappointed he won’t be able to participate. Velasquez also made the rounds at the recent Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight in Las Vegas.
“They’ve been expanding for a while,” said Velasquez. “It’s worldwide just going everywhere and that’s good for us, good for the fighters, good for the fans everywhere that we get to go down there also and in the Philippines. And I’d love to go down there and visit also.