THE PHILIPPINES has carved a niche in mixed martial arts as a breeding ground of world-class fighters.
While ONE Championship Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang leads the charge of Filipino combatants, other stars also glitter like diamonds atop an international MMA stage in ONE Championship.
Brandon Vera as well as Team Lakay fighters Honorio Banario, Edward Kelly, Geje Eustaquio and others also stamped their class and made names for themselves atop the MMA cage.
Vera proved worthy to be called ONE Heavyweight World Champion by defeating Japanese challenger Hideki Sekine in the headliner of ONE: Age of Domination this December. Vera won by technical knockout just minutes into the first round.
Team Lakay has become an instantly recognizable name in the Philippine MMA scene because of the success of homegrown talents at ONE Championship cage since its inception in 2003.
Members of the fabled Team Lakay accomplished a breakout year in 2016 as they tallied one impressive victory after another.
Honorio Banario, the former ONE Featherweight World Champion, broke his losing spell in 2016 and is currently riding high on a three-bout winning streak.
He defeated Vaughn Donayre via a lopsided unanimous decision at ONE: Global Rivals in April. He followed that with an equally lopsided unanimous decision over Eddie Ng at ONE: Heroes of the World in August. He then capped his blazing streak with a decisive armbar submission of Eddie Ng right in the first round at ONE: Age of Domination in December.
Kelly attained a come-from-behind submission victory over Jordan Lucas in March and then picked up imposing knockout wins over Vincent Latoel and Sunoto.
Eustaquio started 2016 with a bang by scoring an electrifying one-punch knockout victory over Saiful Merican in January before completing a lopsided decision victory over Gianni Subba April of the same year.
Team Lakay’s Kevin Belingon might have stumbled in his meeting with ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes in January, but he made up for it by outpointing Muin Gafurov this past October.
Female MMA fighter April Osenio pulled off a major upset triumph in September by submitting Malaysian superstar Ann Osman with a first-round guillotine choke.
The Philippine MMA scene has a promising future as 2016 witnessed the emergence of Team Lakay’s young guns Joshua Pacio and Danny Kingad.
Pacio earned a date with ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka Naito this past October. He lost but there can be no denying that he has reached world class status with his year-long performance.
For more updates on ONE Championship, please visit www.onefc.com, follow on Twitter and Instagram @ONEChampionship, and like on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ON EChampionship.