…And Everything Else You Need to Know About UFC Fight Night 65
Finally, after years of anticipation, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) together with SM Lifestyle & Entertainment Inc. (SMLEI) bring UFC Fight Night 65 to Manila on May 16, 2015 at the 20,000-capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena. As soon as major sports and MMA news sites announced the event two weeks ago, social media was rather quick to pick it up, and Filipino UFC fans began speculating on what could either be a great night of fights or a dismal first outing for the world’s premiere MMA promotion in the country.
Now, MMA-in-Asia reports that a superfight between former UFC lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and former WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber will headline Manila’s first ever UFC event. Edgar is the No. 1 ranked featherweight in the UFC, while Faber is currently ranked 3rd in the bantamweight division. While the official announcement has yet to be made, we’re pretty sure you fight fans just became more willing to take your wallets out for this one!
Every fight fan knows that chatter of the UFC invading the Philippine market has been going on as early as 2011. One of my earliest articles for When In Manila touched on TUF Philippines, and URCC boss Alvin Aguilar categorically stating that they were talking (then), but diverged on their visions for the show.
While UFC media tours continued on a yearly basis thanks to UFC content provider ABS-CBN, UFC events in Japan, Macau, and Singapore leapfrogging the Philippines only made Filipino fans more on edge regarding the prospect of a UFC Manila – especially after last year’s projected event was postponed and long-term UFC Asia manager Mark Fischer resigned from his post.
SMLEI President Ed Tejerero mentioned during the January 29 presser that talks between the UFC and SMLEI began about two years ago. From what we know, those two years were not mutually exclusive. In fact, during last year’s Cung Le charity seminar, Fischer introduced us to a potential partner in the Philippines – and they were not SMLEI.
From what we gathered, the postponement of last year’s event was probably due to problems with the previous partner and not SMLEI. That’s actually a good thing. As newly minted UFC General Manager for Asia Kenneth Berger concedes, “SMLEI is the best partner the UFC could have in mounting the first UFC event in the Philippines.” We couldn’t agree more. SM has more firepower than any other conglomerate in the country. Any hope of bringing big names to the May event has more to do with SM’s willingness to invest in their event than the UFC making an impression in the Philippines. And we couldn’t think of a better alibi than Edgar vs. Faber!
If Edgar vs. Faber is a done deal, we ask: who else can we expect for UFC Fight Night Manila?
Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz has publicly voiced his desire to compete in the May event, even though he is slated to fight this month. Understand that the only thing that could stop Munoz from competing in the Philippines is if he is so beat up from his prior match that he could not train and prepare for a May comeback. Even the dreaded six-month suspension state athletic commissions slap on fighters wouldn’t hold should a fighter choose to compete outside the US. Besides, we’re fairly confident that “Donkey Kong” can easily overcome Roan Carneiro on UFC 184.
Another fighter who Filipino fight fans are clamoring for is the “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit who expressed his intent to compete in the Philippines during his Manila media tour last November. Condit wrote on Twitter that he plans to return to the Octagon on May 23 in Las Vegas. If that doesn’t push through, a showing in Manila one week prior to his target date wouldn’t be a bad alternative.
Regarding homegrown fighters competing in the card, Lakays Roldan Sangcha-an and Mark Eddiva will very likely be tapped for the event. A dark horse in this conversation is former ONE Championship contender and Filipino superstar Eric “The Natural” Kelly, who has expressed for the longest time his desire to compete in the UFC. Recently, Kelly returned to Baguio to contemplate on his career, and after winning a $50,000 performance of the night bonus, the option of an early retirement was something that crossed his mind. Should he be free from his obligations with ONE Championship, we’re pretty sure he’ll be more than happy to be part of the Manila fight card.
Event Format and Ticket Prices
UFC Fight Night Manila will go down on a Saturday evening (our time) and will be made available to the rest of the world through UFC Fight Pass. Ticket prices will be announced by March, with our assumption that it would be priced competitively to encourage more fans to watch the event live (instead of watching it on Balls Channel). Rest assured, we will be posting about the ticket prices and other updates once they are made available.