Asian MMA Update: Filipino MMA rivalry continues as PXC manages to sign a URCC champion? [UPDATED]

Photo by Paolo Tabuena

The rivalry between MMA promotions in the Philippines got a bit more interesting today as PXC has managed to sign away a URCC champion to their roster. He's about to be a huge underdog as he's matched up against the current King of Pancrase. Is this a way to send a message to their rival promotion?

2013 is an exciting time to be an MMA fan in the Philippines. With the country arguably having the most rabid and educated fans of combat sports in the region, several promotions have began regularly hosting shows in Manila.

Just a few years back, the Filipino MMA scene was basically run unopposed by the URCC, the nation's first promotion which has been running for over a decade. Apart from running provincial shows, they recently hosted their 23rd major show in the capital, and most of the stars they've built have also appeared in other promotions in Asia.

Today the MMA scene is completely different. There's ONE FC who is already set to host their 2nd stacked Philippine event at the end of this month. There's also PXC, who in just two years after they first moved to the country from Guam, are now about to host their 8th event in Manila next weekend. Finally, there's KOTC who is also out to get a piece of that pie when they begin their expansion by hosting a Philippine event this June.

Without even counting the free UFC events and programming that are broadcasted in the country, the massive MMA fan base in the country are in luck, as these developments bring out several opportunities to watch MMA events live. That being said, with more promotions looking to host shows in the country, this also brings out more rivalries. In FIlipino MMA, there's none more heated than the one between the two Manila-based promotions in the URCC and PXC.

Both promotions regularly stake their claim as the best in the country. The URCC prides themselves for truly building fighters from scratch and by having majority of the best homegrown Filipino stars. PXC on the other hand, boasts a constantly improving roster of Filipinos while also having better international talent and more fighters to have "graduated" to the UFC. Today, their rivalry -- and probably their dislike for each other as well -- had another interesting development.

PXC has announced the full fight card for their next event, and interestingly enough, they have managed to sign one of the URCC's champions in Ricardo Sapno.

The URCC recently crowned Will Chope as their interim featherweight champion after an excellent performance in URCC 23. They've stated a few months ago that Sapno was out indefinitely due to personal problems, but as we fast forward to today, and it is revealed that he has instead signed with their rival promotion. It is unclear whether the misinformation was from Sapno's camp or from the URCC themselves who have known about the potential move. Regardless though, this is another interesting story line to the developing rivalry, especially as the URCC is known for being able to keep their title holders under contract.

Things don't stop there though. It is also interesting to note that Sapno, who has a relatively young MMA career and has a record at 6-1, is about to be a huge underdog at PXC 37 as he is matched up against a former KOTC lightweight champ and current featherweight King of Pancrase, Takumi Nakayama.

This is a Japanese star with almost 40 fights, and has wins over Legend FC champ Yusuke Kawanago, Jon Shores, and even Tatsuya Kawajiri. Sapno will be the younger fighter, but to me he is clearly not ready for such as huge leap in competition. Does PXC genuinely think it's an evenly matched bout? They've been doing this for a while, so naturally there's a chance that they see something in both fighters that most pundits don't.

If this was someone else on a different situation, I probably would've brushed it off at first glance. With their rivalry and genuine dislike towards the URCC though, putting their newly signed champion in such a tough match up on paper just begs me to ask these questions. Are they doing this to send a message? Is this a way for them to say they're better? That "URCC champions can't hang with PXC fighters"?

Maybe they're just genuinely trying to test Sapno's mettle. Maybe I'm simply reading too much into this. Either way, it's a good signing but I just hope for Sapno's sake, that he doesn't become collateral damage in their quest to proving that they're the country's top MMA promotion.

After all, this whole thing should all be about having good fights, and for that to happen, it should be more focused on the fighters and less about politics and posturing.

UPDATE: The URCC has released a statement to us, and it looks like there will more to the story soon: "Ricardo Sapno has a live contract with the URCC and we have not given any release form".

One of the top officials from the promotion also sent a note towards their rivals: "This is Bubbles Aguilar by the way. FYI Sapno will NOT fight in your card."

UPDATE 2: When asked for a comment, PXC officials refused to release a statement just yet, saying: "We'll release our take on this matter soon. Keep you posted."

UPDATE 3: PXC has released a statement saying that although Sapno's camp assures them that his URCC deal is done, they'll be freezing his PXC contract and postponing the bout until everything gets sorted out.

Here's PXC head EJ Calvo with the statement: "We are happy to welcome Ricardo to our PXC roster of rising stars from the Philippines. Although it is quite clear that his previous contract is expired, we prefer that he settle his contract matters professionally with URCC before making his PXC debut, which will hopefully take place soon"

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MORE MMA NEWS: PXC 37'S MARK STRIEGL VS. YUSUKE YACHI CANCELLED

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, there are more MMA news coming out of the Asian region. One that is slightly connected to the whole drivel above is news that PXC 37's co-main event bout between Mark Striegl and Yusuke Yachi has been cancelled. This was a much anticipated bout which was supposed to be the semi-finals of their FW tournament, but as both Yachi and Striegl have apparently suffered injuries, it has forced the promotion to cancel the bout.

Early plans are to have the fight re-booked for August, when Striegl is likely already have fully recovered by then. If the Japanese star is unable to come back at that date though, they are likely to have him matched up against another top featherweight contender. This is a blow to the card, but they still have several other entertaining bouts on that PXC 37 card, including the bantamweight championship between Team Lakay's Crisanto Pitpitunge, and undefeated grappling ace Michinori Tanaka.

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LEGEND FC 11 RESULTS: JADAMBA FALLS AS 3 NEW CHAMPIONS ARE CROWNED

Legend Fighting Championship hosted their 11th show in Malaysia, and as their broadcast was televised all over Asia this past weekend, it showed a turning of the tide as 3 new champions have been crowned.

In the main event, Jadamba Narantungalag fought Koji Ando in what could've been a career ending night for the talented Mongolian. After a very even first two rounds, Jadamba suffered a freak accident off a takedown. His ankle was broken badly as they hit the mat, which put a weird ending to a very close bout. Ando officially received a TKO win and the Legend Lightweight Title, but at 38-years-old this injury also puts a pretty bleak future for Jadamba's career.

On the main card, Ji Xian displayed much improved stand skills as he dropped a striker in Delarmino and used his trademark grappling to win by submission to take the vacant Bantamweight title. As for the third title bout on the night, "The Leech" Li Jingliang took home the welterweight strap with an exciting come from behind submission win over the very underrated fighter in Luke Jumeau.

Check out highlights from the event below:


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ROAD FC 12 PARTIAL CARD IS LOOKING GOOD

Speaking of Legend FC, their best welterweight, Bae Myung Ho, will be fighting on Korea's top promotion Road FC on their 12th major event on June 22. Road FC head honcho Moon Hong Jung spoke about his plans for this show (HT: MMA-in-Asia.com), and it looks like they're also going to host their Bantamweight GP Finals on the same card as well.

No opponent has been announced for Bae as of this writing, but Jung did reveal other news though. He said that the promotion, who has already brought in other PRIDE stars such as Sokoudjou, Ikuhisa Minowa and Joachim Hansen in the past, is also looking to sign Mirko Crocop.

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Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena

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