Mark Eddiva steps foot in the Octagon tonight for the TUF: China Finale, and the Filipino will be making his UFC debut in front of a hostile crowd. He faces one of China's biggest stars in Jumabieke Tuerxun, a fighter that the promotion has been trying to pick up for years now.
Eddiva is no stranger to competing against talented stars in their hometowns though, as he is also one of the Philippines' most decorated fighters in the Chinese martial art of Wushu. While his fighting career was focused mostly on representing his country in San Shou competitions, he has steadily built up a 5-0 record in MMA as well.
His last MMA fight was back in 2011 though, which is a long time to be away from the sport. According to him, it's because his time away from Wushu had been dedicated on other things apart from MMA.
"I have been focusing on my studies, but I have still been training during that time," Eddiva told BloodyElbow.com in Filipino, "I'm not worried about ring rust. No worries at all."
Like Eddiva, Tuerxun also has a San Shou background and is training from one of the best Sanda gyms in China. It's a style not commonly seen in the UFC, and while most of their other opponents would likely have to adjust to the unorthodox striking stemming from that base, this won't be the case come fight time. According to Eddiva, that familiarity only makes this bout more intriguing.
"It is going to be a really nice and interesting stylistic match up, because we both know each others art very well, and we both come from the same base."
Having racked up accolades representing the Philippines in the South East Asian Games and World Wushu Championship and other tournaments, Eddiva has been in countless international battles, which brings about that certain calmness fighting on big stages such as his UFC debut.
His opponent is undefeated and is listed at 14-0, although his coaches say that Bieke has a much longer resume that doesn't get recorded on English speaking sites. He has the crowd and the hype behind him, but Eddiva, for the most part, seems unfazed by it all.
"I think I'm better at striking. Maybe even wrestling as well," he claims, "He also has a San Shou base, but he didn't continuously compete and go all the way on an international level, and I have fought at the high-end international competitions in San Shou."
As one of the stalwarts from Team Lakay, he's been working on his MMA game with some of the Philippines' best fighters in Kevin Belingon, and his cousin Eduard Folayang. Like what he has done on numerous occasions, the decorated athlete in Eddiva once again represents his country on a huge stage. It may be on a slightly different platform, but he believes he has the tools to produce the same results.
"It's an honor to be the first Filipino-born fighter in the UFC," he exclaims, "I have prepared very well for Bieke and his style, so I have no worries about whatever strategy he will bring come fight time."
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