UFC Manila Scouting Report: Eight Local and Regional Prospects the UFC Can Sign

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Who do you want to see inside the Octagon?

The UFC returns to the Philippines with another UFC Fight Night on October 15, 2016. This is the second year in a row that the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion is visiting the country, preceded by the massive success of their first outing headlined by former UFC lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and perennial bantamweight contender Urijah “The California Kid” Faber last May 2015.

Just like any UFC Fight Night card held outside the US, a healthy representation of local and regional talent is always welcome. So we did our due diligence to compile a list of top prospects in the local and regional MMA circuit who we have personally witnessed inside the cage. This list includes those who have publicly expressed their desire to compete in the UFC, as well as fighters whose current contracts allow them to transition to the said promotion without any legal impediments.

Carlo Laurel and Alvin Ramirez

URCC 27 Rebellion 9Alvin “Kastigo” Ramirez and Carlo “Samurai” Laurel engaged in a war inside the URCC cage last April that saw Ramirez victorious with a third-round TKO via doctor stoppage. Ramirez is as close to a real-life Tekken fighter as can be; and Laurel, a fighter known for his crafty grappling, surprised everyone when he decided to stand and bang with his Yaw-Yan Buhawi opponent. But both fighters’ worth goes beyond what they can give and receive inside the cage. These guys know what hype is all about.

With ONE Championship, PXC, and the URCC all holding events in Manila last April, a Nielsen TV viewing survey revealed that the URCC was the most watched MMA event that month, even surpassing UFC 197: Jones vs Saint Preux. We’d like to think that this was largely because of Carlo Laurel’s pre-fight antics rubbing Alvin Ramirez the wrong way, and the two engaging in an all-out Facebook war that led people to take notice. While some die-hard MMA purists disapprove of Laurel’s hype mechanism, MMA promotions are in the business of selling fights, and Carlo Laurel was the URCC’s golden goose in building interest for their April fight card.

12705274_10205582102381110_8482210303897796198_nWe casually chatted with Laurel and Ramirez, and as per Laurel, his contract stipulates that once the UFC comes knocking, the URCC will allow him to compete for the US-based promotion. We believe the same holds true for Ramirez and another top prospect from the URCC. In that same conversation, Laurel called out Ramirez to tango a second time around – this time inside the Octagon.

Kwan Ho Kwak

PXC 51 16TOP FC and PXC bantamweight champion Kwak Kwan Ho is clamoring for a chance to compete inside the Octagon. “I am ready for the UFC, and I want to make my debut in October in the Philippines,” the South Korean known as “Handsome” writes on Facebook. Not a stranger to the Filipino MMA crowd, Kwak dominated former champ Kyle Aguon across five rounds both in the stand up and on the ground.
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Zebaztian Kadestam: “My mental game is stronger than ever”

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Kadestam and Sparv Headline PXC 53

 

It’s been more than a year since Zebaztian Kadestam defended his PXC welterweight belt inside the Terror Dome. The Swedish national, training alongside some of the fiercest MMA imports at Legacy Gym Boracay, is actively looking for opportunities to show his wares in and out of the PXC. “I’ve been waiting for a contender,” he told us, “I wish I could fight more often.”

That opportunity came in the form of IRFA back in Sweden, where “The Bandit” lost to Hakon Foss via split decision last September. “They let me fight there [in IRFA] ’cause I wanted to fight at home. To me, I don’t really dwell on the outcome. I’ve been home in Sweden since September, training and spending time with my family. My mental game is stronger than ever.” (more…)

Coach Mark Sangiao: “Hopefully we can get both belts to start the new year right”

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Team Lakay’s head honcho talks about title shots, fan support, managing training camps, and what the future holds for one of Asia’s best martial arts teams.

 

Coach Mark Sangiao has always been very gracious and amiable the few times this writer has managed to speak with him. If one was not knowledgeable in the local MMA scene, it would feel like you were speaking with your best friend’s older brother or an older cousin – it’s just how he relates to people that makes a conversation feel down-to-earth.

But for the fans who know him for his exploits in the ring and out, he will always be “The Machine”: an apt description considering he runs one of the best martial arts teams on this side of the globe like a well-oiled, finely tuned mechanism.

 

This January is particularly a busy time for the team. Crisanto Pitpitunge fights Jenel Lausa for the vacant PXC flyweight title on January 16, 2016 at the Solaire Resort and Casino, and on January 23 Kevin Belingon challenges Bibiano Fernandes for the ONE bantamweight title at the Changsha Stadium in Changsha, China.

With the immediate match in mind, the chance for Pitpitunge to win titles in different weight classes is of course on Coach Mark’s mind. “The record is there for the taking and he is really focused on winning this fight for that achievement, which is why the fans will see the best version of Crisanto on Saturday.”
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