8 Pinoy MMA Fighters We’d Love to See in the UFC
By KARL R. De MESA
Eduard Folayang’s win last November 11 against Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki in the ONE Championship cage proved that Pinoy toughness, determination, and skill can get can make some pretty amazing things happen.
Now that we’re riding high on Folayang’s accomplishment, we’ve mused about our local fighters moving to the big show. Here are some tough guys and gals from the top of our heads.
Jerson “Salleng” Estoro
This bantamweight standout has a pretty decent 6-3 record in URCC and in China’s Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation (RUFF). Aside from a very entertaining brawling style, his striking speed and footwork are coming along very nicely and will definitely give him an edge in a weight class full of technical fighters.
Jujeath “Bad Girl” Nagaowa
If not for a mix-up with her management we’d be seeing Bad Girl more often in the Asian leagues but, as it is, Nagaowa is already a champion in boxing. After her impressive two-fight stint at ONE Championship, she’s since gone over to World Series of Fighting and her record is so far untarnished at 3-0. A pressure fighter with hand speed like crazy, if the UFC ever acquires an atomweight women’s division then they should look no further than adding this outstanding striking phenom.
Flamboyant, confident, and with a sense of flair, Toquero not only has the skills to back up his physical intimidation tactics, he’s also cut from the gladiators of old with heart and toughness to spare. His dismantling of China’s Li Wei Bin in ONE Championship, previously on a three fight win streak, proves that his ground and pound and top game wrestling is as deadly as they come. Almost a natural flyweight, this precision brawler from Submission Sport Philippines (and his funky ‘fro) would be an asset to the lighter divisions of the UFC.
The Team Lakay fighter should be another shoo in for the fantasy atomweight women’s division of the UFC. Although relatively a newbie both her wins against Natalie Gonzales-Hills and Malaysian standout Ann Osman were outstanding. Definitely way stronger than she looks and definitely a very talented prospect that bears watching.
Rolando “The Incredible” Dy Navarette
The PXC veteran out of Kratos MMA has been a stalwart of the Pinoy and Asian MMA scene since 2011.
A grinder and technical brawler with an 8-4 “The Incredible” is riding on a three-fight win streak with a recent UD victory over Aydin Mruoki. And who doesn’t want to see a Navarette child possibly tough it out in the UFC cage?
Mark “Mugen” Striegl
Named by Yahoo! Sports in 2014 as one of the hottest prospects in Asian MMA, Striegl has proved his mettle in the cage over and over again in several organizations like PXC, URCC, Legend FC, and now in the ONE Championship cage. His 14-2 record speaks for itself and this Fil-Am fighter’s transfer to Singapore’s Evolve Fight Team has only made his swords even sharper. A step up to UFC level competition is the next logical move for Mugen, to test his skills against the best lightweights of the world.
His TKO of the notoriously tough MMA vet Caloy Baduria was simply phenomenal. It was also a victory that sent Baduria into retirement, passing on the tough guy torch to Hofmann. Although the 205 pounder out of BAMF MMA Center has a lot of room for improvement with just a 3-1 record, his powerful stand-up and acutely improving ground tactics (he joins grappling comps on his down time) are certainly the same tools that made him the current URCC Light Heavyweight Champion. With more conditioning and sharper jiu-jitsu, we’d love to see this local star shine brighter under the global spotlight.
Eduard “Landslide” Folayang
The empathic TKO win of Team Lakay’s current thoroughbread against grappling legend Shinya Aoki in the last ONE Championship card in Singapore speaks for itself. Not only does it prove that he’s ready to be in the UFC, it also proves he’ll shine in top level competition. Landslide to the UFC? I say after a title defense, Baguio City’s son should get it done.
All photos courtesy of ONE Championship/Stev Bonhage.
Any other fighters you’d like to see in the Ultimate Fighting Championship?