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
Alvin “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.
We 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
TOP 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.