During URCC’s fight card held at the Fontana Convention Center in Clark, Pampanga last July 25, the president of the country’s first organized mixed martial arts league vowed that the company has something in store for 2016.
Seven months later, the promise has come to fruition.
“This year we’re going to have 11 events,” URCC president Alvin Aguilar said during a press conference hosted at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Paranaque City Wednesday afternoon.
Opening the slate will be URCC 27: Rebellion. “Rebellion” will feature four championship bouts in the promotion’s light heavyweight, lightweight, featherweight, and flyweight divisions. Headlining the card for the URCC Featherweight championship is Red Romero, pitted against Korean Do Gyun Lee.
“Ayoko muna magsalita ng tapos kasi sa pagkakaalam ko, marunong din ang makakalaban ko,” the newly-crowned URCC champion said. “Nakita naman natin ang huling laban niya, kitang-jita ‘yung lakas nya, nangibabaw sa kalaban niya. Pero gagawin ko ang buong makakaya ko sa laban na ito.”
19-year-old CJ De Tomas will also get the title shot he was promised during URCC 26 as he squares off against URCC Flyweight Champion Hideo Murikawa, who is making his first title defense. “Feeling ko talaga, ako ‘yung makakakuha ng URCC flyweight belt. Kung makuha ko ang belt, siyempre masayang-masaya ako kasi ako yung pinakabatang mananalo dito sa Pilipinas ng championship belt, tsaka revenge na rin para sa akin at kay Papa,” the recently-married prospect said. “Sila kasi yung naglaban dati at para makabawi kami, kailangan makuha ko yung championship belt.”
To add international flare to the card, and in the co-main event, American Will Chope of Fight Corps faces off against fellow American Richie Redman of Legacy Gym Boracay, while Deftac’s Chris Hoffman and Caloy Baduria will slug it out for the promotion’s vacant light heavyweight crown.
“What will be different this year is the level of the fighters. When MMA started, a lot of the guys were weekend warriors. Now, we have fighters who have done this their whole life,” Aguilar shared. “These guys grew up fighting and that’s all they do, they train all day. That’s the only thing on their mind now.”
In line with this vision, the undercard of the event will feature the brightest mixed martial artists in the country today. In pinweight action, Eddie Estrada is set to face Fritz Biagtan. Then, in arguably the most exciting fight announced, former URCC champion Andrew Benibe takes on prospect Drex Zamboanga. Flamboyant Carlo Laurel also takes on Alvin Ramirez in flyweight action.
“For sure, I’d love to bring top level fighters so our guys can get exposed. The thing with Filipino fighters is everything is there, they just need more exposure. Filipinos are the best athletes in the world, they just need more exposure,” the father of Philippine MMA said about the growth of Philippine MMA and the current expansion of the promotion.
“Once we get that in MMA, there’s nobody that can beat us.”