2019 seems to be the year for Filipino athletes. For example, pole vaulting star EJ Obiena just recently qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a vault height of 5.81m, making him the first Filipino to gain a berth for Tokyo. Obiena is also one of the country’s gold medal hopefuls for the 30th SEA Games to be held this November and December. The second Filipino to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo, won his own Olympic spot at the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.
There’s nothing like professional sports to get your blood pumping, and the Philippines has shown that it can hold its own on the international level. Boxing greats like Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire have proven their mettle against dozens of international opponents time and time again. In fact, such is the skill of Filipino boxers that there were no less than six boxing world title winners carrying the flag of the Philippines in 2018 alone.
When it comes to fame inside the ring, Filipinos don’t fall too far behind. With the rise of MMA (mixed martial arts)’s popularity, several Filipino fighters have made names for themselves on the international stage. Such is the growth of MMA as a sport in the Philippines that ONE Championship recently announced a 2020 reality show competition to find the next best Filipino fighter. The show will culminate in a tournament, with the winner taking home a USD100,000 prize.
With MMA slowly gaining popularity in the country, it’s only right that we should take a look at some of the biggest names in the sport currently. Here’s a list of the top 10 best Filipino MMA fighters in the country.
EDUARD “Landslide” FOLAYANG – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Born on November 22, 1983, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is one of the biggest names in Philippine MMA today. With a height of 5’9″ and classed in the Lightweight division, Folayang has a grand total of 21 wins and 8 losses over the course of his career. His association is Lakay MMA, based in Baguio City, Philippines.
KEVIN “The Silencer” BELINGON – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Born on October 30, 1982, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is another one of the Philippines’ best fighters. With a height of 5’5″ and part of ONE’s Featherweight division, Belingon has a total of 20 wins and 6 losses under his belt. Belingon is also a member of Lakay MMA.
MARK “Mugen” STRIEGL – URCC
Mark “Mugen” Striegl was born on June 23, 1988, and hails from Baguio City, Philippines. Classed in the URCC Featherweight division, he is 5’8″ and has 18 wins and 2 losses under his belt. Striegl’s association is the Borneo Tribal Squad Gym in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
HONORIO “The Rock” BANARIO – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Honorio “The Rock” Banario is another household name in Philippine MMA. Born on September 25, 1989, Banario clocks in at a height of 5’9″ and is classed in ONE’s Lightweight division. Berthed with MMA association Lakay MMA, Banario has pulled in 14 wins and 9 losses over the course of his career.
ROLANDO “The Incredible” DY – ADW
Born on August 11, 1991, Rolando “The Incredible” Dy is a 5’8″ tall fighter classed in the ADW Featherweight division. Dy fights with both Biagtan Muay Thai in Dasmariñas, Cavite, and Kratos MMA in Malolos, Bulacan. He has a total of 12 wins and 7 losses under his belt.
ERIC “The Natural” KELLY – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Eric “The Natural” Kelly was born on April 30, 1982, making him one of the oldest fighters on this list. But just because he was born a little earlier doesn’t mean his fire for the sport is any less, and this 5’7″ Featherweight class fighter has a total of 12 wins and 8 losses to his name. Kelly’s association is with Team Eric Kelly.
GEJE “Gravity” EUSTAQUIO – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio was born on April 6, 1989, putting him at 30 years of age. At 5’5″ he’s a fighter in ONE Championship’s Flyweight class. Eustaquio trains with Lakay MMA in Baguio City, Philippines, and has a total of 12 wins and 8 losses over the course of his career.
REY “The Punisher” DOCYOGEN – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Born on April 2, 1983, Rey “The Punisher” Docyogen is another one of Lakay MMA’s best fighters. Standing at 5’5″ and classed in ONE’s Flyweight division, Docyogen has a total of 11 wins and 2 losses, and was once known as the 10-0 Filipino earlier on in his career.
CHRIS HOFMANN – URCC
Chrisof Valdez Hofmann, Jr. is the 4th ranked active Pro Middleweight in Southeast Asia. Born on November 18, 1989, he stands at 6’0″ and is classed in the Middleweight division of URCC. His associations are Deftac Philippines, which is founded and led by pioneers of mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the Philippines, and 360 Martial Arts. He has a total of 8 wins and 1 loss under his belt.
GINA “Conviction” INIONG – ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
While women’s MMA is slowly gaining ground, one of the top names in the business is Gina “Conviction” Iniong. Standing at 5’2″ and classed in the Atomweight division of ONE Championship, Iniong fights with Lakay MMA. She has a total of 8 wins and 4 losses over the course of her career.
James Gonzales is a Filipino-American travel enthusiast and writer currently based in the Philippines. After living and working in New York for 10 years, James decided he wanted to see more of the world and leave the city behind. In the course of saving up for what would become an epic trip across Asia, he wrote about previous traveling experiences for various travel websites and publications based in the Lower East Side.
James focused on journeying through the Philippines in the hopes of understanding his roots, and began Daydreaming in Paradise to share his thoughts and experiences. He’s always looking for like-minded travelers to trade stories and swap tips with, and he hopes you’ll join him on his journey.