Mixed martial arts: 'Cowboy' Cerrone looks for record win in Singapore

American going for 26th victory on June 23 as UFC agrees to hold events here in 2019, 2020

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to Singapore on June 23, and in a big way.

The American mixed martial arts (MMA) juggernaut yesterday confirmed that veteran welterweight Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone will face British upstart Leon "Rocky" Edwards in the main event of UFC Fight Night Singapore.

American Cerrone, 35, will attempt to earn a 26th victory, which will be a record for most UFC wins although he will have his work cut out against Edwards, who is nine years younger and eager to make his own mark.

Also set to be in action at the Singapore Indoor Stadium is former light-heavyweight contender Ovince Saint Preux, who takes on Australian Tyson Pedro.

In its announcement, the UFC also said it has agreed to a deal that will see it hold events in Singapore in the next two years.

Said UFC vice-president, Asia Pacific, Kevin Chang: "After evaluating the success of our events last year, the appetite from our partners and rapidly growing MMA fan base, we feel it is the right time to make the Lion City a regular, annual stop on our live events calendar.

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"Singapore is home to South-east Asia's biggest and most talked-about events and remains a key market for us. We look forward to building on our growth from 2017, as we bring fans in this region even closer to world-class MMA."

Added Sports Hub chief commercial officer Adam Firth: "UFC Fight Night Singapore continues to be a highlight on our sporting calendar. Together with UFC, we greatly look forward to presenting more world-class MMA to fans from the region."

UFC Fight Night Singapore Cerrone v Edwards will be the organisation's third show in the Republic.

The first was the Fight Night 34 in January 2014, which was headlined by Belgian Tarec Saffiedine's decision victory over South Korean Lim Hyun Gyu.

The event, watched by more than 5,000 fans at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, also featured current featherweight champion Max Holloway, then 23, on the undercard.

Following a three-year hiatus, UFC returned last June when American Holly Holm knocked out Brazilian Bethe Correia in the main fight of the Fight Night 111 event at the Indoor Stadium. Almost 8,500 fans turned up to watch other fighters like Andrei Arlovski, Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington.

Cerrone and Edwards attended the UFC 25th anniversary press conference on April 6, which took place the day before UFC 223 in Brooklyn.

Edwards promised to deny Cerrone his history-making win.

The Ohio native is tied with Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping on 25 for the most UFC wins.

"I've been calling out top-10 guys for a while now, so it's good to see my hard work paying off," said Edwards at the press conference.

"Come June, I'll put this man away, so it's all good."

Local MMA fan Nicholas Ho said he had expected bigger names from the UFC's roster to make the trip to Singapore.

"Cerrone is the only real recognisable name, so in that sense, it is a bit disappointing," said the 35-year-old financial consultant.

Local MMA fighter Syafiq "The Slasher" Abdul Samad added: "To be honest, I expected something like Cerrone-Edwards to be the main event, because Singapore is not a huge market yet for UFC, and so we won't get their top guys.

"Cerrone is still a big name, but not as big as (Jose) Aldo. Hopefully, in the future MMA will grow enough in Singapore that we can see UFC's biggest names fight here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline ''Cowboy' Cerrone looks for record win in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe