LOOKING BACK AT THE BIGGEST MMA EVENT IN THE PHILIPPINES –
UFC Fight NIGHT®: MANILA
It’s been exactly 14 months since the UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, held its first-ever event in the Philippines. To this day, there hasn’t been a bigger MMA event that has come close to the historic night of May 16, 2015.
By the numbers, UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA was a total success, recording a total crowd of 13,446 fans that witnessed 12 action-packed fights, five of which ended in an exciting finish of either by knockout or submission. UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA also featured two homegrown talents and even more international fighters who proudly displayed their Filipino lineage all throughout the night.
In honor of this historic night of fights, we take a look back at some of the highlights that made UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA the biggest live MMA event in the Philippines.
- An impressive debut: An astounding crowd of 13,446 fans filled the SM Mall of Asia arena, creating an electricity that could be felt in every corner, whether you were sitting Octagon side or in the nosebleed section.
- The 1st Filipina Octagon Girl: The Octagon Girls are a major part of every UFC event, sometimes even more popular than the fighters. In UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA, we were introduced to the first-ever Filipina Octagon Girl, Red Dela Cruz, who beat 4 other hopefuls for this thrilling opportunity. To this day, Dela Cruz continues to grace other UFC events around Asia with her natural Filipina beauty.
- UFC Fight Morning: Traditionally aired at night, UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA was actually aired in the morning in Pacific and Eastern Time zones. The event was broadcasted live on Fox Sports 1 and millions of viewers around the world got to start their day with a dose of pancakes and punches.
- A Night of Filipino Pride: Mark Eddiva and Roldan Sangcha-an, two local fighters from Team Lakay in Baguio, got to showcase their skills in front of the thousands of fights fans in attendance and the millions watching around the world. UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA also featured proud international fighters of Filipino heritage such as Nolan Ticman, Philippe Nover, Jon Delos Reyes and Mark Muñoz.
- The Fighting Spirit of the Filipino: Despite fighting in the undercard of UFC Fight Night Manila, the scrap between Jon Delos Reyes and Roldan Sangcha-an earned “Fight of the Night” honors. Both displayed relentless heart in a back-and-forth battle that had each of them in near-win situations. In the end though, Delos Reyes, who hails from Guam but was born to two Filipino parents, got the victory over Sangcha-an.
- A “Super Fight” Main Event: UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA main event pitted the former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar against the former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber. A rare occasion in any sport, Edgar vs Faber was a certified super fight between two legends of MMA. Each displayed their high-level wrestling and grappling skills that made them pioneers of the sport and after a 25-minute war, Edgar came out as the winner.
- Mark Muñoz’s Farewell Fight: At the end of the night, the star of the show was Middleweight contender and local favorite Mark Muñoz who, after 20 professional fights, ended his career with a dominating “ground and pound” clinic against prospect Luke Barnatt. In front of his countrymen, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” announced his retirement plans to spend more time with his family and gave a heartfelt farewell speech that ended with him leaving his UFC gloves in the center of the Octagon.
It was a truly unforgettable night for MMA fans in the Philippines, one that cannot be easily replaced. It was a moment for the history books and one we can always look back on proudly as we wait and hope for the UFC to return to our shores once again.
Was your favorite highlight not on this list? Share with us what made UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MANILA a historic night for you.