Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. And to think that MMA—a mainstream sport—was born within our lifetime is insane. It wasn’t long until MMA found its way to the Philippine shores; and for a time, Brandon Vera and Mark Munoz were the nation’s flag-bearers during their stints with the UFC.
But Filipino fighters have found a new home in ONE Championship, which is arguably Asia’s largest martial arts promotion and a rapid-riser in the industry, worldwide. ONE houses the most elite warriors the archipelago has to offer. Here are the five best Filipino cage fighters in ONE Championship. And in the MMA, period.
- Jomary Torres
Jomary Torres may not be a household name, but she’s the country’s top female fighter with a record that shows it. Torres is undefeated at 4-0 with notable wins against Thai MMA star Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige, and Team Lakay’s April Osenio.
Fighting out of the Catalan Fighting System, Torres has a finish rate of 50 percent. The most interesting stat about Torres, however, is her age as she’s only 23-years-young.
Sky’s the limit for “The Zamboanginian Fighter” and it’s not difficult to imagine a future with a ONE Championship title around her waist.
- Eduard Folayang
Eduard “Landslide” Folayang was the poster-boy of Filipino MMA before hitting a brick wall in the form of a knockout loss to Martin Nguyen. But Folayang has bounced back from the devastating defeat with a triumphant outing against previously-unbeaten Kharun Atlangeriev at ONE: Unstoppable Dreams.
A rematch with Nguyen for the lightweight champion is the next logical step for the Team Lakay leader. And if Folayang can prove that Nguyen escaped with a lucky punch, he is well on his way for another run with the gold.
- Kevin Belingon
The 30-year-old striker has had a career resurgence as of late. After tapping out to ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes, Belingon had strung together five consecutive wins, three of which came via stoppage.
“The Silencer” is one of the most feared strikers in the division, and his recent demolition of Andrew Leon serves as a reminder that he is a threat to the champion. With Belingon’s recent dominance over the bantamweight division, he is due for another title shot when Fernandes recovers from his injury. A future in which Team Lakay boasts two ONE titleholders is possible with how Belingon has been taking care of business.
- Geje Eustaquio
With momentum on his side, Geje Eustaquio turned his dream to reality by becoming the undisputed ONE flyweight king. He also avenged two of his losses by besting Kairat Akhmetov and Adriano Moraes during his last two fights. Eustaquio’s success was the rainbow for Team Lakay’s stormy 2017, that witnessed the fall of Folayang and Danny Kingad in their respective title fights.
Starting the year as a dark horse in flyweight, 2018 belongs to “Gravity” as he is now the division’s top dog.
- Brandon Vera
Two years ago was the last time we saw Brandon Vera in action, thanks to his busy celebrity schedule. But since making his ONE Championship debut, Vera strolled through every single opponent he’s had. The heavyweight champ has never seen round two inside a ONE Championship cage. He made quick work of Igor Subora, Paul Cheng, and Hideki Sekine, stopping all three by way of knockout.
Vera’s movie—together with box office star Anne Curtis—“Buy Bust” will hit theatres soon, which means we can expect a much-anticipated title defense from “The Truth” in the near future.
Will Vera’s age slow the champion down when he comes back? Will ring-rust be a factor during Vera’s inevitable defense? No one knows for sure. Until Vera gets knocked-off his throne, he remains at the top of totem pole.
All photos from One Championship.