MMA

Folayang, Kelly, Banario earn title shots after ONE FC: Pride of a Nation wins

Eduard Folayang. InterAKTV/Roy Afable

Filipino MMA fighters Eduard Folayang, Eric Kelly and Honorio Banario all earned shots at ONE Fighting Championship gold after hurdling their respective opponents at the ONE FC: Pride of a Nation card held Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Folayang defeated Japan’s Felipe Enomoto by unanimous decision in the co-main event of the fight card. He had Enomoto hurt late in the second round, dropping him with a big right hand and delivering some ground and pound but he wasn’t able to get the finish before time in the round ran out.

After the fight, it was announced that Folayang would receive a shot at the lightweight title on ONE FC’s October 6 card in Singapore, where he would be facing Brazilian fighter Zorobabel Moreira for the vacant title.

“Thank you so much for this privilege,” said Folayang of the opportunity to fight for the championship.

His Lakay teammate Banario earlier knocked out fellow Filipino Andrew Benibe to set a date against the undefeated Kelly, who had one of the night’s biggest wins when he stopped former UFC champion Jens Pulver in the second round.

Kelly and Banario will clash on the same October card for the vacant featherweight championship. With two Filipino fighters facing off for the belt, the Philippines is assured of having at least one ONE FC champion after the October card.

Kelly struggled a little in the first round against Pulver, who displayed some strong counter-punching to frustrate the Filipino. But he opened up in the second round, connecting on some solid straights early in the round before throwing a huge kick to the body that had Pulver covering up. The Filipino then finished the fight with strong ground and pound until the stoppage.

In the other fights, bantamweight Bibiano Fernandes took a unanimous decision victory over Gustavo Falciroli in the main event while heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia saw their match end in a no-contest after the fight ended on an illegal kick by Arlovski.

Fernandes cruised to a three-round decision over Falciroli after controlling much of the fight due to his superiority on the ground.

Arlovski, meanwhile, looked like he had won over Sylvia after the referee stepped in following a big right hook that rocked Sylvia and a pair of kicks to the head. But the followup kicks were deemed illegal as kicks to the head on the ground were only allowed with the referee’s signal. With Sylvia unable to continue, the fight was declared a no-contest.

Both fighters expressed interest in fighting each other again at a later date.

Earlier, two out of the three Gracies on the card picked up submission wins. Heavyweight Rolles Gracie defeated Tony Bonello via rear-naked choke in the third round of their fight while Gregor Gracie forced Nicholas Mann to tap out to an armbar at the 3:38 mark of the 1st round.

Igor Gracie, though, lost to Jung Hwan Cha of Korea after a referee stoppage due to strikes. Filipino fighter Kevin Belingon also fell to a Korean fighter, losing his featherweight bout against Soo Chul Kim via unanimous decision.

Other winners include Phil Baroni, who entertained the Filipino crowd with celebratory post-fight antics, and Shannon Wiratchai of Thailand.

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