Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The good, the bad & the One FC: Pride of the Nation

Men in Black: Andrei Arlovski, Shinya Aoki, Bibiano Fernandes, One FC CEO Victor Cui, URCC President Alvin Aguilar, Gutavo Falciroli, and Eduard Folayang.

The good, the bad & the One FC
One FC’s initial Manila offering Pride of the Nation promises to be one the MMA events of the year.
by rick olivares with pic by brosi gonzales

They are some of the baddest men on the planet. The men in black look like their headed for some ball. They sound polite in a Clark Kent manner. One of them even bows after answering a question.

Then the tall – he’s 6’4” -- and heavy set dude, Andrei Arlovski, who looks to be uncomfortable in formal attire, bellows. It’s like an ice breaker that brings grins to everyone. “Whoop ass.” he says in his unmistakable thick Russian accent. Only no one will ever really laugh at him lest you’re a sucker for pain.

Welcome to the press conference for the One Fighting Championship: Pride of the Nation. This is the most packed press conference since the Los Angeles Galaxy blew into town last year. The Magellan Room of the Discovery Suites in Pasig is full to bursting with the assembled media hanging on to every word by some of the world’s biggest names in Mixed Martial Arts.

It is said that boxing “is the sweet science” but the way members of the media asked detailed questions, it was like a scene from Battle of the (Mixed Martial Arts) Geeks prompting Arlovski to exclaim, “I love it! I hope to get more fans from the Philippines so they can cheer for me when I fight on August 31.”

And that is what One FC Chief Executive Officer Victor Cui hopes what Filipino fans will feel when Asia’s biggest Mixed Martial Arts event kicks down the doors of the Smart Araneta Coliseum on August 31 with an incredible fight card.

Philippine sensation, Eduard Folayang (11-2), dubbed by local Mixed Martial Arts impresario Alvin Aguilar as “the Manny Pacquiao of MMA”, will be seeing action although his opponent has yet to be named. Folayang last fought in the One FC 3 at Kallang, Singapore held in March of this year where he lost in a controversial split decision with Dane Ole Laursen. “I don’t mind fighting him (Laursen) again,” said Folayang who is the current Universal Reality Combat Championship Welterweight Champion.

Fil-Am Eric “The Natural” Kelly, a sensational striker and submission specialist, stakes his unblemished slate against American Jens Johnnie “Lil’ Evil” Pulver. Pulver is one of two men to beat MMA sensation BJ Penn at the lightweight division (although Penn later avenged the loss). In this matchup, it will be a battle between youthful aggression against age and experience. Pulver, at 37 years of age and has accumulated a 26-1-14 record and will take on Kelly, a man 10 years his junior and who has never had a fight go the distance. “This sooner you take care of business, the better it is for you,” promised Kelly. “This is going to be explosive.”

Aside from the local favorites, there will be familiar names making their One FC debuts.

Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes (11-3), who is supposed to compete in UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada this July 21, will instead make his post-Dream debut with One FC when he takes on Australian Gustavo Falciroli (12-3) in the main event of the evening.

Said Fernandes of the decision to move to One FC: “I fight where the best fight. It’s that simple.” Fernandes, nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’ will be also be joined by Japanese MMA superstar and former Dream champion Shinya Aoki who will opponent will be named in the next few days. Aoki, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is nicknamed ‘ Tobikan Judan’ or ‘The Grandmaster of Flying Submissions”, said through an interpreter that he is excited to make his One FC debut in Manila. “If I can help the sport grow in this country then that’s a bigger impact than I will make from beating another opponent. I hope to put on a great show for all.”

Arlovski who is a former UFC heavyweight champion (17-9) with notable wins against Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson, and Tim Sylvia to name a few, will be in the cage with Australian Soa Palilei. Arlovski won his last two matches in ProElite against Ray Lopez and Travis Fulton while Palilei (17-3) is on a seven match win streak.

“Bringing the One Fighting Championship to Manila is a dream come true for me,” gushed Cui who was born is Cebu but grew up in Canada. “While I am a product of the east and the west, whenever I am in the Philippines, I know I am walking on familiar home ground. I know for a fact that Filipino MMA fans are some of the best in the world and this is in many ways giving back to our people.”

“Thanks to the URCC that has been ahead of its time, the Filipino mixed martial artist has become known across the Asia as a quality and exciting fighter. Now with the help of the URCC, One FC will bring the best fighters in Asia to Manila. That is why we are calling it, ‘Pride of the Nation’. Our fighters and the show we will put on will be our common pride.”


Tickets for One Fighting Championship: Pride of a Nation will be available beginning Thursday, July 19 2012 at all TicketNet outlets located at SM Department Stores and the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Tickets are at Php 4,500 VIP and Php 2,000, Php 1,000, Php 650, Php 500, and Php 200 respectively.

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