The Philippines is a country that is rich in mixed martial arts superstars, and we don’t say that lightly. From ONE Championship to the UFC and beyond, fighters from the nation have fought in every conceivable organisation at the very highest level.
Right now it certainly seems and feels like we’re living through a golden age of what they can do and just how many top names there are, which can only mean a good thing for the future of these high level events in Manila and beyond. The tide is turning, and South East Asia as a whole is playing a big role in that movement.
We aren’t attempting to shortchange any other world class Filipino fighters out there by not including them on this list, but in truth, we’ve decided to go with guys who have already left a lasting impact on the sport.
Team Lakay’s own Geje Eustaquio is the definition of a plucky fighter, and he’s the definition of someone who learns from every mistake he makes and just seems to get better with age. He’s starting to really thrive in ONE Championship and it feels like his future could be brighter than anyone may initially have imagined, with the ultimate underdog tag forever being attached to him.
Brandon Vera is hailed as being a hero back in the Philippines, and rightly so. He’s been able to defy the odds in more ways than one throughout the course of his MMA career, and after taking two and a half years off from the sport, he still looks as sharp as ever. It’s intriguing to consider what his legacy could look like in a few years time, even at his advanced age.
Mark Munoz is known as one of the nicest fighters to ever step foot into the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and that’s not a bad reputation to have when you put it alongside his work in the local community in the Philippines as well as his 14-6 overall record. His retirement win and subsequent speech in Manila capped off what many still consider to be a phenomenal career.
Eduard Folayang is the kind of fighter that just refuses to stop pouring forward, and won’t let you rest regardless of whether you’re in the first fight of the night or the very last. His persistence makes him a force to be reckoned with and he proved that with his recent win over Amir Khan, which confirmed his status as one of the all-time greats in ONE Championship.
Bibiano Fernandes was, for the most part, expected to run through Kevin Belingon and continue his legendary title reign. Alas, when the fight actually went down in Singapore, things played out very differently. Belingon put in a performance for the ages to capture the Undisputed Bantamweight Championship, which is a title that we could easily see him keeping hold of for many years to come.
Filipino fans, it would appear as if you’re in good hands.