Filipino MMA Veterans To Watch Out For

MMA in the Philippines may have only recently risen in popularity, but it has been around for quite some time.

While the Philippines was put on the combat sports map by the accomplishments of Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire, and Milan Melindo among others, the local talent isn’t quite limited to boxing. Even the famed Elorde Gym of boxing now has MMA fighters training with them.

The Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) and Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) have regularly featured some of the best talents from the Philippines. Prospects and champions alike have moved to bigger international promotions later in their careers. Meanwhile, Team Lakay of Baguio has produced multiple champions and is considered one of the best MMA stables in the country.

Here’s a look at some of the best Filipino MMA veterans that are still competing in popular promotions:

Eduard “Landslide” Folayang
See Him At: ONE Championship
Fight Record: 18-6-0

The 33-year-old from Baguio has represented the Philippines in international wushu competitions as far back as 2002. In 2007, he made the transition to MMA and made waves in the local scene with the URCC and later in the international scene with Gorilla Warfare and Martial Combat. The Team Lakay product later moved to ONE Championship, where he continued his success and reached the pinnacle by winning the ONE Lightweight World Championship. Last November, he lost the title to the current champion, Martin Nguyen of Australia.

Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly
See Him At: ONE Championship
Fight Record: 10-4-0

The younger brother of another top Filipino MMA fighter in Eric “The Natural” Kelly, Edward is currently 4-1 since 2016, with all his wins coming by way of stoppages and his lone loss going all the way to the cards. Another product of Team Lakay, Kelly’s latest conquest came last January at ONE: Global Superheroes in front of a home crowd in the Mall of Asia Arena. The 33-year-old featherweight may have flown under the radar because of his more popular brother, but he has certainly earned every victory with skill and not by name.

Eric “The Natural” Kelly
See Him At: ONE Championship
Fight Record: 12-5-0

“The Natural” prides himself as not being part of a particular gym or stable and instead develops his own training regimen. The elder Kelly was a teammate of Folayang during their wushu days, but made the transition to MMA a little bit later. The 36-year-old started his MMA career blazing, going undefeated in his first nine fights. His first loss would be against fellow Filipino Honorio “The Rock” Banario for the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Championship, and while he would rebound from that loss with three straight victories (2 of which in ONE), he would suffer four straight defeats, with the latest one just this January in ONE: Global Superheroes.

Honorio “The Rock” Banario
See Him At: ONE Championship
Fight Record: 12-6-0

An undefeated URCC career with six wins all by way of stoppages saw Banario winning the promotion’s Lightweight Championship. The 28-year-old fighter of the famed Team Lakay moved to ONE Championship in 2012 where he would suffer his first career defeat. After getting his first win, he was given a chance to compete for the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Championship. There, he would notch Eric Kelly’s first career defeat. However, he wouldn’t be able to defend the title, as he stumbled with five straight losses. A move back to lightweight seemed to be what he needed as he is now rolling with a four-fight win streak.

Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon
See Him At: ONE Championship
Fight Record: 17-5-0

The 30-year-old was one of the first Team Lakay members, having been part of the group with the team’s founder, Mark Sangiao even before Team Lakay was officially formed. He dominated the competition in URCC, Marital Combat (MC), and Legend FC before suffering back to back losses in his first two fights with ONE Championship. He continued to impress despite alternating some wins and losses, and had the chance to compete for the championship against ONE Bantamweight Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes. While he would go on to lose that fight, he would rebound with a four-fight win streak, including an undefeated three wins in 2017 that earned him the honor of being one of ONE Championship’s top fighters of the year. He’s primed to get a rematch against Fernandes soon.

Mark “Mugen” Streigl
See Him At: URCC
Fight Record: 17-2-0

Berserk ??? #EvolveMMA #EvolveFightTeam by: @onechampionship

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The 29-year-old Japanese-born Filipino-American fighter has been around, fighting in various promotions throughout the region. After eight months on the sidelines and six years away from the promotion, Streigl returned to URCC in 2017 and scored a triumphant return with a first-round submission of URCC veteran Andrew Benibe. The contender fighting out of Evolve MMA followed up the win with a unanimous decision victory against South Korean Gi Sung Kim last December, setting himself up for a potential clash with URCC Featherweight Champion Do Gyeom Lee in the near future.

Reydon “The Filipino Bolo Punch” Romero
See Him At: URCC
Fight Record: 12-7-0

The “Filipino Bolo Punch” is a former URCC Featherweight champion and is a product of URCC’s grass root MMA league, The University Challenge. The Yaw-Yan Kampilan fighter recently won an the opportunity to compete in a $1 Million South Korea-based ROAD FC tour by beating three other competitors in URCC. While he failed to advance in the round of 16, he showed that he’s capable of competing with the best.