The highs and lows of Pinoy MMA in 2017

Pinoy MMA

There’s never a boring year in Pinoy MMA, and 2017 was no different.

2017 was a memorable year for MMA in the Philippines, for both good and bad reasons. Here’s a rundown of the highs and lows of Pinoy MMA in 2017.

HIGH: URCC breaks into US market
The year started out strong with local promotion URCC holding its first ever US event. URCC 29: Conquest brought four title fights and a total of 12 bouts to Kezar Pavillion in San Fransisco.

HIGH: Folayang defends in Manila

This was a huge morale booster for the Filipino MMA community. Eduard Folayang attempted his first ONE lightweight title defense and did so successfully on Philippine soil and in front of his home fans.

LOW: The passing of “The Outlaw”
In undoubtedly the biggest tragedy of the year for Pinoy MMA, respected fighter and coach Rocky “The Outlaw” Batolbatol passed away after getting hit by a taxi cab. He was scheduled to fight on a ONE card the following weekend (his first fight in a year) but the entire event was cancelled days before his accident. Plus, even though the accident occurred right outside a private hospital, Batolbatol was brought to a public hospital that was over five kilometers away. The circumstances surrounding his death highlight the many things wrong with the MMA scene and our society today.

HIGH: Pinoys sign with UFC

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In 2017, Filipino standouts CJ de Tomas and Rolando Gab Dy signed with the UFC, joining compatriot Jenel Lausa as the only Filipino nationals in the promotion. This reinforced the fact that the Philippines has UFC-caliber athletes.

LOW: Eduard Folayang gets knocked out cold
This was a real downer. ONE lightweight champ Folayang not only lost his title but lost it via a stunning knockout on Philippine soil.

LOW: UFC win drought for Pinoy athletes
From April to November of 2017, our Filipino fighters couldn’t score a victory in the UFC, collectively dropping five straight losses.

HIGH: Rolando Dy enters UFC’s win column

Thanks to Dy, the Philippines claimed one UFC victory in 2017. He picked up a unanimous decision win at UFC Shanghai, the promotion’s first event in mainland China.

LOW: Title losses for Kingad and Pacio
Fans had high hopes that young challengers Danny Kingad and Joshua Pacio would bring home a belt in their respective title shots. However, the Team Lakay standouts both fell short.

HIGH: Pinay MMA in the spotlight

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Gina Iniong and Jomary Torres both picked up notable back-to-back wins in ONE, which also added Rome Trinidad to its roster. Overall, it was a strong year for Pinay MMA, save for the fact that we didn’t see URCC champ Geli Bulaong return to the cage.

HIGH: The rise and return of URCC stars
Drex Zamboanga won the URCC bantamweight title. Chris Hofmann won twice via TKO, extending his win streak to six straight via TKO/KO. And Mark “Mugen” Striegl returned to the URCC to go 2-0 and secure himself a title shot. There’s no denying that these URCC highlights and more lit up 2017 for Pinoy MMA.

HIGH: Stephen Loman wins Brave title

Stephen Loman proved that he is the future of Pinoy MMA by capturing the Brave CF’s inaugural bantamweight title in Bahrain, adding a new, shiny belt to Team Lakay’s mantle.

LOW: CJ de Tomas’ UFC release
No doubt it was a rough year for “The Goldenboy” CJ de Tomas. In both his UFC bouts, he failed to meet the agreed upon 125lbs weight limit. He fought valiantly but lost in his two UFC fights. Then he was flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation and was released from the UFC.

HIGH: A strong showing for Team Lakay
It wasn’t a perfect year for Team Lakay, but they certainly had a strong showing. Honorio Banario won one fight extending his win streak to four. Plus, Kevin Belingon went 3-0 last year for his own four-fight win streak. That, capped off by Loman’s title win, made it a solid year for the country’s top MMA team.

What Pinoy MMA highs and lows do you remember most from 2017? Tell us in the comments section below!

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Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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