Shortly after that memorable ONE FC 4 event, officials from ONE Fighting Championship have announced that their next show will be on August 31, in Manila, Philippines. It will be held at the Araneta Coliseum, which also played host to the historic "Thrilla in Manila" event with Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. As that classic fight proved to be one of the best in combat sports history, ONE FC is now poised to put on the largest MMA event in Philippine history.
Although not yet officially announced, sources close to the situation have informed BloodyElbow.com that as of today, DREAM lightweight champion, Shinya Aoki is officially a ONE FC fighter. The Japanese star has just signed a multi-fight deal with the promotion and is set to make his debut as the headliner for the Philippine event.
Aoki, who is one of the Asia's biggest stars, will be looking to rebound from his rematch against Eddie Alvarez last April, a bout which snapped his 7-fight winning streak. No opponent has been named as of this writing, although with the promotion having a deep roster of lightweights, there are several potentially interesting match ups to be made.
Aoki has been 100% confirmed for the show, but here's a rundown of competitors that are also likely to be on the event:
- Boracay-based Ole Laursen is already on the poster, and URCC Champion Nicholas Mann, who is fresh off an impressive win against fellow champ Froilan Sarenas, will also be competing on the card according to his team. No word on the opponents of either fighter yet, although it is interesting to note that Laursen has called out Aoki in the past.
- The URCC, which has been the Philippines' top promotion for about a decade now, has been working hand in hand with ONE FC. With the promotion heading to their turf, you can definitely expect several URCC champions on the card, including Eduard Folayang (who I hope won't be rematching Laursen), Eric Kelly, along with Kevin Belingon, and other Baguio-based fighters.
- As for non-Filipino international competitors, Phil Baroni, who was supposed to compete at ONE FC 4, is also penciled in for the card, with Rolles and Igor Gracie also looking for available slots. No opponents have been mentioned for any of those fighters either, but as always, we'll keep you updated when the information becomes available.
- My wild card pick for the card has been Team Alpha Male's Justin Buccholz, but at this point, it may be a long shot to get him booked.
- No word on these fighters, but obvious candidates for the card would also be URCC pinweight champion Roy Docyogen (10-0) and top featherweight star, Mark Striegl (10-0). Both Filipino stars haven't officially fought for ONE FC, but they have been competing on various promotions within their network.