In today’s world, fighters don’t just need to set the cage alight when they’re fighting, but also need to ensure that they market their name and brand as well as they can outside of it.
That’s where social media plays a crucial role. Amassing a following through being active on social media often and getting your name out there lends you a leg up in your career – like how Derrick Lewis of the UFC ended up fighting for the Heavyweight Title at UFC 230 largely because he maintained such a hilarious Instagram account. Yes, his hail mary KO of Alexander Volkov helped, but the cult following he was gathering as one of the funniest men in the MMA scene certainly helped push the deal over the line.
It’s a trend we’ve seen developing the world over, and Southeast Asia is no different. Fighters that have originated from this region also use social media effectively to market themselves and have found professional opportunities open up because of it.
Now, some of the names on this list may not be active fighters anymore – but they most certainly still maintain their connection with their fans through social media.
On that note, here are 5 Southeast Asian MMA fighters with the most social media following – ranked!
5) Eduard Folayang – FB: 91.5k, Instagram: 9.8k, Twitter: 1k
Eduard Folayang is a Filipino fighter with a professional record of 21-6, and is also the current ONE Lightweight Champion. He had defeated Shinya Aoki in 2016 to initially win the belt but was then knocked out by Featherweight Champion Martin Nguyen, who had stepped up a weight class to challenge him for the belt.
However, Folayang once against worked his way to the top of the mountain and recaptured the vacant title against Amir Khan at ONE; Conquest of Champions in November of 2018.
4) Angela Lee – FB: 220k, Instagram: 114k, Twitter: 9.6k
Arguably the face of ONE Championship, Atomweight Champion Angela Lee is a Singapore based fighter who is 9-0 in her professional MMA career.
She was involved in a traumatic car crash incident in 2017 when she fell asleep at the wheel of the car and ended up suffering a concussion and minor burns. However, she came back in May of 2018 to win her fight against Mei Yamaguchi and retain her Championship.
3) Mark Munoz – FB: 247k, Instagram: 54k, Twitter: 128k
Mark Munoz is a Japanese-born Filipino-American martial artist who fought in premier promotions like the WEC and the UFC, compiling a successful professional record of 14-6.
He’s fought some of the best fighters of this generation like Chris Weidman, Demian Maia, Lyoto Machida, Gegard Mousasi and others. Munoz called it a day in 2015 after defeating Luke Barnatt in UFC Fight Night Philippines, retiring in front of an adoring home town crowd.
2) Brandon Vera – FB: 561k, Instagram: 122.6k, Twitter: 98.4k
Brandon Vera, who is an American-born Filipino fighter, is currently the ONE Heavyweight Champion. He has fought in some of the best promotions the world over, having competed against the likes of the best of the best like Jon Jones, Fabricio Werdum, Randy Couture and Frank Mir.
He returned after a near 2-year hiatus to successfully defend his Title against Italian Mauro Cerilli just days ago at ONE: Conquest of Champions.
1) Dave Bautista – FB: 6.9 M, Instagram: 2.4 M, Twitter: 1.23 M
Now, Batista – who has Filipino roots – made his name as a WWE Superstar. But he also fought in a sanctioned and professional MMA fight, making him eligible for this list.
The Guardians of the Galaxy star is not just one of the most famous fighters to originate from the SEA region, he’s one of the most famous movie stars in the world today – period.
Batista went 1-0 in his MMA career, defeating his opponent Vince Lucero in the first round via TKO.