There are several news and rumors floating around from the Asian MMA scene, so as always, here's a round up focusing on the upcoming ONE FC card:
- ONE Fighting Championship will be hosting their 5th event this August, in Manila, Philippines. Shinya Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes have already been announced to be part of the card, along with several other high-profile participants.
- No match ups have been officially announced, but Bloody Elbow has learned through various sources close to the situation, about multiple bouts that are currently in the works for the event.
- Three Gracies will be on the card, with Rolles, Gregor and Igor all competing. As for their rumored opponents, sources tell us that Gregor Gracie was offered to face Ray Elbe, who is a BJJ black belt and TUF veteran based in Asia. Verbal agreements have been reached, but as of a few days ago, negotiations on the finer details are still on-going, so contracts haven't been finalized, and there is still a very real chance it doesn't materialize.
If it pushes through though, it's a very interesting match up that already has a good story line. On ONE FC 4, Gracie was in a bout he was dominating, until Adam Kayoom managed to survive several near finishes to pull off a well earned decision victory. If the bout does get signed, he will be trying to rebound and take revenge against Elbe, who happens to be Kayoom's main cornerman and training partner.
- Another match up rumored to be in the works for the the card would be Phil Baroni taking on a BJJ World Champion in Rodrigo Ribeiro. The bout hasn't been finalized and is still very early in negotiations, but sources tell us that verbal agreements are already in place.
- Not really a rumor, but already confirmed by reliable parties for a slot on the card, is Jake Butler, an NCAA Division I wrestler who will be making his MMA debut after joining the famed Evolve MMA gym less than a year ago. No opponent has been announced, but he will be making his debut in the middleweight division.
- UFC vet, Antonio McKee is still looking to get that match up against Aoki. Here's what he told FightSportAsia: "It’s always a privilege to be asked to fight outside of the US. ONE FC has an amazing thing going right now and being a veteran in the sport it would be an honor to represent their brand and give ONE FC fans a taste of the MANDINGO MAGIC! ...I only want to fight top ranked fighters, McKee vs Aoki is long, long overdue! Mentally, I’ve already won that fight, just waiting on a contract to sign."
- The initial line up planned for the show, along with the added potential match ups mentioned above already guarantees that it will be the biggest Philippine MMA event in history, but it even looks like it will be bigger than expected.
Here's an announcement made for ONE FC 5: "DREAM Champions, URCC Champions, ex UFC champions, 3 Gracies, PRIDE vets, & other Asian stars will fight on Aug 31 in front of 16,500 fans."
After the jump, let's take a closer look at who they are likely referring to specifically. -- Follow me on twitter, @antontabuena
- 3 Gracies are obviously going to be Igor Gracie, Rolles Gracie, and Gregor Gracie.
- DREAM Champions: Shinya Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes.
- URCC Champions: Eduard Folayang, Eric Kelly, Kevin Belingon, Roy Docyogen, and possibly Nicholas Mann as well. It is also interesting to note that Victor Cui is currently in Manila meeting with the URCC brass to finalize details for their monumental event.
- PRIDE vets: They're talking about Phil Baroni, although Aoki also competed in PRIDE.
- Ex-UFC Champions: Now this is where it becomes tricky. f they're really talking about former UFC champs, and not UFC vets, then there are just a handful of guys that fit the mold since most are either retired, or still with Zuffa.
Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, and Ricco Rodriguez, are three former champs who could be matched up against Rolles Gracie.
The only other remaining former champs that fit the bill could also be Jens Pulver who has recently dropped to flyweight, Dave Menne, or UFC tournament champ, Kazushi Sakuraba.
- Either way, even if we don't consider those names speculated about the ex-UFC champions, this card is already shaping up to be not just the largest card in Philippine history, it is already looking like the most stacked card ONE FC has ever set up. With the promotion's meteoric rise to the top of Asian MMA, it's crazy to think that they haven't even had a full year under their belt.