“I left the Octagon but I'm leaving the legacy of treating people the way I want to be treated. I'm known as one of the nicest guys in the UFC and there's a reason for it. That's the Filipino way: You respect and you're respected back.
I'm very Filipino, this is who I am. This is my culture. I uphold traditions close to my heart. It's a storybook ending here in the Philippines. I couldn't have asked for a better ending and I thank God I was able to end my career here."
The Filipino Wrecking Machine, Mark Munoz, ended his run as our nation’s flag-bearer in the world of mixed martial arts with these words.
As far as retirement fights go, his couldn’t have been more perfect. He peppered his opponent, Luke Barnatt, with rights. He threw the Englishman down almost at will, and inflicted more punishment on the ground. At the final horn, the people gathered that Sunday night (May 16) at the Mall of Asia Arena lost their shit. The explosion of pure fandom jubilation was akin to the roar the building first heard about two years ago—when Gilas Pilipinas vanquished South Korea in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first fight card in Manila wasn’t all about Munoz though. The main event featured two of the sport’s most popular fighters, former champions Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and “The California Kid” Urijah Faber. Five of the 12 fights scheduled ended in finishes, which were enough to keep the crowd giddy throughout the seven-hour event.
It also brought back to the country Arianny Celeste, the measuring stick curve of ring girls the world over, and introduced UFC Manila Ring Girl search winner (and FHM favorite) Red Dela Cruz to fight fans everywhere.
However, for a country known for deifying “reckless” boxers and hard-foul-happy basketball players, UFC Manila might prove to be the watershed moment the world’s largest MMA company have been waiting for.
The combat sports business is all about putting up shows where tickets will be gobbled up and a rabid fanbase can be cultivated. There were 13,446 paying patrons that night, which, as reported by Spin.ph, marked “first time the MOA Arena was packed to the general admission section for an MMA event since the state-of-the-art facility opened three years ago.” This, apparently, was enough to convince the UFC to return sometime in the future—maybe even include the country as a regular stop in their packed annual calendar.
Munoz won, great action, fabulous ring girls, and an impressive turnout that could lead to more events: UFC Manila was all that, and more…
Click on the photo below to view our full gallery from the event!