Manila Streets to Global Elite: Gyms Making MMA Legends!

October 4, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Manila, often heralded as the bustling capital of the Philippines, is not just known for its historical landmarks and vibrant culture, but it’s rapidly becoming the epicenter of mixed martial arts (MMA) in Southeast Asia.

The city’s unique blend of ancestral martial traditions and modern fighting techniques has given birth to a slew of premier MMA training centers, each cultivating world-class talent and churning out champions who’ve graced global stages. 

As we embark on this exploration of Manila’s standout MMA gyms, it’s worth having the Spartacus app by your side, offering a richer, more informed experience of the city’s combat sports landscape.

Team Lakay

Nestled in the breathtaking highlands of Baguio City in the Philippines, Team Lakay stands as a testament to the rich martial arts heritage of the region. Founded and helmed by Coach Mark Sangiao, a former SEA Games Wushu gold medalist, the gym masterfully blends traditional martial arts wisdom with contemporary techniques, creating a unique training matrix. At its heart, Team Lakay’s philosophy is deeply rooted in values such as discipline, honor, and humility, which is evident in how its fighters conduct themselves both in the heat of battles and in ordinary life.

Team Lakay has carved a niche for itself, particularly for its striking, thanks to its lineage in wushu. Yet, the gym’s adaptability and evolution are commendable. Over the years, recognizing the multifaceted nature of MMA, they have incorporated robust grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu modules into their training regimen.

Eduard Folayang, often seen as the face of the gym, is revered for his tenacious striking and never-say-die attitude. His journey, marked by both setbacks and triumphs, resonates deeply with aspiring fighters. Equally noteworthy are Kevin Belingon, whose blinding speed and precision are a sight to behold, and Geje Eustaquio, a maestro in the cage with his technical depth and fight IQ.

DEFTAC (Defensores Tactica)

DEFTAC, holding the title of being one of Southeast Asia’s pioneering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu organizations, started its journey in 1996. Ever since, it has been a formidable force in the Filipino grappling landscape. Guided by the ethos ‘technique over strength’, DEFTAC promotes the belief that refined skill and tactical acumen can triumph over sheer brute force.

The academy, under the watchful eyes of its veteran coaches, has proliferated across the Philippines, each branch echoing its commitment to martial excellence. While its foundational strength lies in grappling, DEFTAC, acknowledging the dynamism of MMA, has seamlessly integrated striking disciplines and holistic MMA training approaches.

The prowess of fighters like Alvin Ramirez, celebrated for his sublime grappling finesse, and Red Romero, who beautifully harmonizes striking and ground game, underscores DEFTAC’s pedigree.

Elorde Boxing Gym

Hailing from a rich lineage that resonates with boxing royalty in the Philippines, Elorde Boxing Gym seamlessly marries the vintage boxing expertise of the Elorde legacy with the dynamism of modern mixed martial arts. The Elorde name, inextricably linked with the legendary boxer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, is synonymous with boxing excellence in the region.

Elorde Boxing Gym’s philosophy is underpinned by a rigorous focus on technical perfection, discipline, and the enduring spirit of the warrior. While the gym has its foundational strength in boxing, it has shown an incredible ability to adapt and evolve with the changing martial arts landscape, thereby incorporating a comprehensive MMA curriculum.

The coaching staff, comprising seasoned professionals from the world of boxing and MMA, ensures that fighters receive nuanced, individualized guidance. Their technology and equipment, while reflective of their boxing roots, cater to the multifaceted demands of MMA, from striking pads to grappling dummies.

Though primarily celebrated as a boxing gym, Elorde Boxing Gym has extended its tutelage to a multitude of local MMA fighters, equipping them with world-class striking skills honed by generations of boxing wisdom.

Ultimate Fitness Metrowalk

Situated in the heart of Pasig City, Ultimate Fitness Metrowalk stands out as a holistic combat sports hub. Their guiding principle revolves around the idea that martial arts is not just about fighting; it’s a lifestyle anchored in discipline, continuous learning, and mental fortitude.

The gym boasts an impressive roster of coaches who bring to the table a diverse range of expertise, from traditional martial arts to modern combat disciplines. The integration of these styles allows for a multifaceted training experience that’s both rigorous and rewarding.

Ultimate Fitness doesn’t just focus on the martial arts; it gives paramount importance to strength and conditioning, recognizing that a well-conditioned body is pivotal in the realm of combat sports. This emphasis is evident in their state-of-the-art equipment, designed to cater to both the striking and grappling aspects of MMA as well as overall physical fitness.

Will Chope and Richie Redman, both URCC champions, are testament to the quality of training at Ultimate Fitness. Their successes in the cage reflect the gym’s commitment to creating well-rounded fighters who can dominate in multiple dimensions of combat.

BAMF Mixed Martial Arts Center

BAMF Mixed Martial Arts Center, with its audacious name, indeed lives up to its reputation of producing some truly “badass” fighters. Their philosophy revolves around creating resilient, versatile, and fiercely competitive athletes. By ensuring a rigorous and structured training regimen, BAMF MMA Center molds its students into fighters who can hold their own in any combat situation.

The coaching staff at BAMF is its backbone. With experienced MMA veterans and specialists in various martial arts disciplines, they offer a blend of traditional values and modern training techniques. These trainers prioritize the holistic development of their fighters, ensuring that they’re not just physically fit but also mentally and strategically sound.

The gym’s infrastructure showcases its commitment to providing the best training experience. From top-tier grappling mats to the latest striking equipment, BAMF invests in state-of-the-art technology and tools to help their fighters gain an edge.

Mark Striegl, a URCC veteran and SEA Games gold medalist, is one of the shining examples of BAMF’s training pedigree. His accomplishments in the cage epitomize the gym’s dedication to excellence.

KMA Fitness and Martial Arts

Situated in the bustling heart of Manila, KMA Fitness and Martial Arts stands as a beacon for aspiring martial artists and fighters. With a guiding philosophy that emphasizes respect, discipline, and constant growth, KMA has cemented its position as a premier MMA and BJJ gym in the city.

The coaching staff at KMA boasts a diverse background, with experts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and other combat sports. Their collective experience translates into a curriculum that is both comprehensive and adaptive, catering to the unique needs of every individual.

KMA’s infrastructure is a testament to its commitment to quality training. With state-of-the-art equipment, the facility offers spaces for both striking and grappling, ensuring that students receive well-rounded training.

KMA’s reputation as a solid MMA and BJJ gym is validated by the numerous local fighters who have passed through its doors. These fighters, with their successes in local and regional circuits, are proof of KMA’s unwavering dedication to martial arts excellence.

Fight Factory Manila

Fight Factory Manila is one of the pillars of the MMA community in the Philippine capital. With a philosophy that underscores the significance of discipline, perseverance, and dedication, this gym has been instrumental in nurturing and refining raw talents and transforming them into formidable fighters.

The expertise of the coaching staff at Fight Factory Manila is second to none. With coaches hailing from diverse martial arts backgrounds, they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Their collective expertise ensures that fighters receive comprehensive training that covers striking, grappling, and cage tactics.

Fight Factory Manila stands out for its state-of-the-art training facilities, reflecting its commitment to offering the best for its members. The gym is equipped with high-quality mats, punching bags, and a cage simulation area that provides fighters with a realistic training environment.

Over the years, Fight Factory Manila has been a nurturing ground for several local MMA talents. These fighters, with their impressive performances in various circuits, have put both the gym and Philippine MMA on the map.

Submission Sport Philippines

Submission Sport Philippines has carved a niche for itself in the vibrant MMA scene of Manila, primarily owing to its focus on the art of grappling. The gym’s philosophy revolves around the belief that a strong foundation in grappling can give fighters an edge in the MMA arena.

At the core of Submission Sport Philippines is its team of expert coaches. Specializing in grappling disciplines like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, these coaches ensure that students not only learn the techniques but also understand the underlying principles and strategies.

The gym is a paradise for grappling aficionados, equipped with the latest in training technology. High-quality mats, grappling dummies, and other specialized equipment ensure that students can hone their skills in the best environment.

While grappling remains the gym’s forte, several fighters, like Eros Baluyot, have seamlessly transitioned into MMA, bringing with them the advanced grappling skills they acquired at Submission Sport Philippines. Their success in the cage underscores the gym’s emphasis on grappling as a vital component of MMA.

Hybrid Yaw-Yan

Nestled in the heart of Manila, Hybrid Yaw-Yan Mixed Martial Arts Training Center stands as a testament to the fusion of traditional martial arts with the modern techniques of MMA. Its philosophy is deeply rooted in the age-old Yaw-Yan (Dance of Death) Filipino martial art, emphasizing precision, power, and fluidity.

The coaching staff at Hybrid Yaw-Yan is renowned for their deep understanding of Yaw-Yan and its incorporation into the diverse world of mixed martial arts. Their unique approach ensures that fighters are not just physically, but also mentally prepared, ingraining in them the values and strategies of traditional Yaw-Yan.

A standout attribute of this center is its commitment to preserving the legacy of Yaw-Yan while modernizing its techniques for contemporary MMA. This blend of tradition and modernity is evident in their state-of-the-art facilities, where traditional training tools coexist with modern equipment, offering fighters a holistic training experience.

Over the years, Hybrid Yaw-Yan has been the training ground for numerous local talents, crafting fighters who carry the essence of Yaw-Yan into the MMA arena, making them uniquely formidable.

D’ Elements Gym

D’ Elements Gym, a notable name in the Manila MMA community, believes in nurturing fighters from the ground up. Its philosophy emphasizes fundamentals, conditioning, and the seamless integration of different martial arts forms.

Expertise is a hallmark at D’ Elements. The coaching staff, with their vast experience in various martial arts disciplines, ensures a comprehensive training regimen for their fighters. Their diverse backgrounds mean that students get a taste of different fighting styles, molding them into versatile combatants.

D’ Elements distinguishes itself with a strong community vibe. Fighters train in an environment that encourages camaraderie, mutual respect, and continuous learning. The gym boasts state-of-the-art technology and equipment, ensuring that fighters have access to the best tools to hone their craft.

Over time, D’ Elements Gym has been instrumental in shaping many local talents in the MMA scene. Its fighters are recognized for their robust fundamentals and versatility, thanks to the all-encompassing training they receive at the gym.


Manila’s MMA scene is a testament to the city’s dedication to both honoring its martial roots and embracing the future of combat sports. These gyms, spread across the city, are more than mere brick-and-mortar structures. They are sanctuaries where dreams are realized, challenges are overcome, and champions are born. Their uniqueness lies in their diverse training philosophies, world-class coaching staff, and state-of-the-art facilities, making them revered destinations for aspiring fighters from around the globe. 

As we’ve navigated through the intricate tapestry of Manila’s MMA landscape, the role of platforms like Spartacus becomes even more pronounced. It not only keeps enthusiasts connected to the world of fights with its broadcasts and Pay-Per-Views but also educates and informs, ensuring that the sport continues to grow and evolve. The synergy between Manila’s top-tier MMA gyms and Spartacus’s innovative approach to combat sports content ensures that the future of MMA in the region is not only bright but also accessible and engaging for all. Whether you’re stepping into the octagon, coaching the next big talent, or cheering from the stands, the union of Spartacus and Manila’s MMA establishments guarantees an unmatched experience in the realm of combat sports.


Why is Manila becoming the epicenter of MMA in Southeast Asia?

Manila is rapidly emerging as a central hub for mixed martial arts (MMA) in Southeast Asia due to its unique amalgamation of ancestral martial traditions and contemporary fighting techniques. This blend has paved the way for the establishment of premier MMA training centers in the city. These centers foster world-class talent and produce champions who perform on global platforms, reflecting Manila’s rise in the MMA world.

How are MMA training centers in Manila different from others?

Manila’s MMA training centers are renowned for their combination of traditional martial arts wisdom with modern techniques. This unique training matrix, deeply rooted in values such as discipline, honor, and humility, is evident in how fighters are trained and how they conduct themselves both inside and outside the cage. This balanced approach gives Manila’s MMA community a distinctive edge in the global MMA arena.

Who is Eduard Folayang, and why is he significant in the MMA community?

Eduard Folayang, often recognized as the face of Team Lakay, is revered for his tenacious striking and indomitable spirit. He has faced various challenges throughout his career, but his journey, filled with setbacks and victories, serves as a source of inspiration for many aspiring fighters. His approach to combat and life resonates deeply within the MMA community, marking him as a beacon of resilience and skill.

How have MMA gyms in Manila adapted to the evolving nature of MMA?

MMA gyms in Manila have shown commendable adaptability and evolution in response to the multifaceted nature of MMA. While many originally specialized in specific martial arts disciplines, they have recognized the importance of a well-rounded combat skill set. For instance, Team Lakay, originally known for its striking and wushu lineage, incorporated grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into its training. Similarly, DEFTAC, a pioneering BJJ organization, has integrated striking disciplines and holistic MMA training methods.

Why is grappling emphasized in many Manila MMA gyms?

Grappling is a foundational element in MMA that deals with ground combat. In the evolving landscape of MMA, where fighters need to be proficient in various combat disciplines, many Manila gyms, like DEFTAC and Submission Sport Philippines, prioritize grappling. They believe that mastering grappling can provide an edge in MMA fights, allowing fighters to control opponents, execute submissions, and defend against takedowns.

How is the Elorde Boxing Gym different from traditional boxing gyms?

The Elorde Boxing Gym, while deeply rooted in its rich boxing lineage associated with the legendary boxer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, has adapted to the modern demands of combat sports. While it remains fundamentally a boxing gym, Elorde has evolved to incorporate comprehensive MMA training. This blend of vintage boxing expertise with contemporary MMA techniques sets it apart from traditional boxing-centric gyms.

What role does the digital age play in the modern MMA landscape in Manila?

In today’s digital age, information is a significant source of power. Fighters, trainers, and enthusiasts are constantly seeking platforms that combine entertainment with knowledge. As a result, digital platforms like Spartacus emerge as game-changers, offering comprehensive apps that provide live broadcasts, exclusive events, up-to-date news, expert analysis, and other resources. Such platforms enhance the MMA experience, making it richer and more informed.

Why is there a focus on blending traditional martial arts with modern techniques in Manila’s MMA gyms?

Manila’s MMA gyms understand the importance of drawing from the city’s rich martial arts heritage while also staying current with evolving combat techniques. This blending ensures fighters are equipped with time-tested wisdom and contemporary strategies, making them versatile and adaptable in the cage. The fusion of old and new also helps in preserving martial traditions while catering to the modern demands of MMA.

How do Manila’s MMA gyms ensure their fighters are well-rounded in their skill sets?

Manila’s MMA gyms emphasize a holistic approach to training. By integrating diverse martial arts disciplines, from striking arts like Muay Thai and boxing to grappling arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, these gyms ensure their fighters are prepared for every facet of combat. Additionally, gyms like Ultimate Fitness Metrowalk place importance on strength and conditioning, recognizing the need for a well-conditioned body in combat sports.

How have MMA gyms in Manila contributed to the global MMA scene?

Manila’s MMA gyms have significantly contributed to the global MMA scene by producing top-tier fighters who’ve graced international stages. Through their world-class coaching, state-of-the-art facilities, and unique training philosophies, these gyms have been sanctuaries where champions are born. Fighters trained in Manila have showcased their skills on global platforms, drawing attention to the city’s dedication and prowess in the realm of MMA.

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