Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tiebreaker Times

Mixed Martial Arts

ONE Championship returns to ‘Mecca of Philippine MMA’

The ivory-clad walls of the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila have countless stories to tell when it comes to the legacy of Philippine sports, but the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City isn’t too far behind with its tales of athletic glory if it decides to join the discussion.

With a seating capacity of 16,000 for sporting events and a full house capability of 20,000, the premier showground has paid witness to a number of indelible moments since it opened its doors in 2012.

This includes the curse-breaking victory over South Korea by the Gilas Pilipinas at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship (basketball), the “heartstrong” fairytale of the Ateneo Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 76 (volleyball), and the 2015 IPTL season featuring the once-in-a-lifetime appearances of Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Andy Murray (tennis).

But as far as mixed martial arts (MMA) in the Philippines is concerned, no venue in the country has seen a plethora of career-defining bouts and sold-out fight cards other than the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The stadium hosted its very first MMA spectacle on December 1, 2012 when Alvin Aguilar’s Universal Reality Combat Championship celebrated its tenth anniversary with an event titled “URCC 22: Dekada.”URCC-Dekada-Lowen-Tynanes-def-Eduard-Folayang ONE Championship returns to ‘Mecca of Philippine MMA’ Mixed Martial Arts News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

Since then, the architectural and engineering marvel has become an industry hub.

Its state-of-the-art facility lured international MMA promotions such as King of the Cage in 2013, the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2015, and BRAVE Combat Federation in 2019.

However, a global combat sports outfit based in Singapore saw the SM Mall of Asia Arena as a perfect fit to serve as its home in the Philippines.

#ReadMore  NorthPort yet to re-sign Nico Elorde

Following its maiden venture on Philippine shores dubbed as “ONE: Pride of a Nation” at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on August 31, 2012, ONE Championship held its next 19 shows in the country from 2013 to 2020 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The company began with a twice-a-year arrangement before ramping up to a quarterly basis.

As ONE Championship became a regular staple on the establishment’s schedule of live events, the SM Mall of Asia Arena has been anointed by few as the “Mecca of Philippine MMA.”

This Saturday, December 3rd, the organization returns to the “Mecca of Philippine MMA” for the first time in nearly three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To make up for lost time, ONE Championship has prepared two stacked cards—ONE on Prime Video 5 in the morning and ONE 164 in the evening.

“It’s a fascinating one because it’s going to be a doubleheader. A morning show will be shown live on Amazon Prime in America, while a night show will be broadcast live all across the world. The Filipino fans are in for a huge treat,” company head honcho Chatri Sityodtong stated.

“It’s a full-day festival, a full-day fiesta of world-class martial arts action.”

Eduard Folayang, the man regarded as the “Face of Philippine MMA,” will be the special feature attraction on the preliminary portion of ONE on Prime Video 5 as he is set to battle Brazil’s Edson Marques in a lightweight clash.

The 39-year-old Baguio City native relishes the opportunity to strut his wares inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena once again, a place where 12 of his 34 career matches took place.ONE-Dawn-of-Heroes-Eduard-Folayang-leg-kick-to-Eddie-Alvarez ONE Championship returns to ‘Mecca of Philippine MMA’ Mixed Martial Arts News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

#ReadMore  Geje Eustaquio ready as he faces 'tall order' in Singapore

“The arena is a big part of my career as a mixed martial artist. I had memorable moments there, as well as heartbreaking ones. But looking back, those memories—whether good or bad—shaped me into the person I am today,” Folayang told Tiebreaker Times.

“I am super happy to be fighting again at the Mall of Asia Arena.”

At ONE on Prime Video 5, Folayang will be accompanied by Filipina heroine Denice Zamboanga, who is slated to take on Lin Heqin of China in a three-round atomweight joust.

Meanwhile, the ONE 164 extravaganza will be headlined by Joshua Pacio defending his strawweight championship against American challenger Jarred Brooks.

Pacio is 7-0 inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena, and he seeks to keep his unbeaten streak intact this coming weekend.ONE-Masters-of-Fate-Joshua-Pacio-def-Rene-Catalan ONE Championship returns to ‘Mecca of Philippine MMA’ Mixed Martial Arts News ONE Championship  - philippine sports news

“I’ve been undefeated here in my country, in the Philippines. And I plan to do that again this December 3rd,” the ONE strawweight champion declared.

Pacio will be joined by five other members of Team Lakay at ONE 164.

Geje Eustaquio—the former ONE flyweight titleholder—makes a comeback from a two-year hiatus to square off with China’s Hu Yong.

Jeremy Pacatiw is penciled to duke it out with Myanmar’s Tial Tang at bantamweight, while Jhanlo Sangiao is tasked to welcome Anacleto “L.A.” Lauron—a ONE Warrior Series Philippines alumnus—in a 65.8-kilogram encounter.

Adonis Sevilleno—the ONE Warrior Series Philippines grand winner—is scheduled to lock horns with ex-URCC bantamweight titlist Drex Zamboanga.

Lastly, Jenelyn Olsim faces Chinese strawweight Meng Bo.

Also booked to compete at ONE 164 is Filipino-American MMA superstar and former heavyweight champion Brandon Vera, who finally gets a chance to put his hands on Iran’s Amir Aliakbari.

#ReadMore  Ritu Phogat has nothing but respect for Jomary Torres

With a solid lineup from top to bottom, ONE Championship’s trek back to the “Mecca of Philippine MMA” is poised to be one for the books.

“The Filipino fans are not only the loudest, but they are some of the greatest fans on the planet,” Sityodtong said.

“This is going to be an explosive day and night for Filipino fans, and our athletes are in for a treat. They have no idea what’s coming.”

Written By

Nissi Icasiano is a sportswriter, analyst and editor from the Philippines. He started his professional career in 2013. He has also written for various media outlets such as, ABS-CBN, Tiebreaker Times,,, South China Morning Post, The Phnom Penh Post and the International Business Times. In 2017, he started a career as a Combat Sports Analyst for television and radio, appearing on various news shows for ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5, Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, PTV 4, Business World, Radyo Pilipinas 2 and Bombo Radyo Philippines. He practices boxing at Tiger City Boxing Gym whenever he is not writing.

You May Also Like

Mixed Martial Arts

For Carlo Bumina-ang, the need for redemption has become a rallying cry as he gears up for his next assignment. The 29-year-old Baguio City...

Mixed Martial Arts

In the wake of the recent setbacks faced by Carlos Alvarez and Dave Bangguigui on the ONE Friday Fights stage, Philippine MMA is gearing...

Mixed Martial Arts

Filipino mixed martial artists Carlos Alvarez and Dave Bangguigui faced litmus tests on the undercard of tonight’s ONE Friday Fights 43, both suffering defeats...

Mixed Martial Arts

Carlos Alvarez, a blue-chip prospect from Team Lakay, stands on the brink of securing a permanent spot on the main roster of ONE Championship....

Mixed Martial Arts

Carlos Alvarez and Dave Bangguigui are poised to hoist the Philippine flag aloft as they figure in separate bouts on the undercard of ONE...


Eduard Folayang and the rest of Lions Nation MMA are throwing their unequivocal support behind Marlon Tapales in his quest to make history as...

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Proficiency in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is often considered a cornerstone for success in mixed martial arts, and Prof. Gibran Langbayan is ecstatic about the recent...

Mixed Martial Arts

Lito Adiwang is well aware of the clamor from fans and pundits alike to see him square off against Joshua Pacio, but he currently...