/Asian-American Fighters Return to Ancestral Homelands, and Find Fans Waiting

Asian-American Fighters Return to Ancestral Homelands, and Find Fans Waiting

“I see that their success is that they are very humble and accessible to fans,” said Matt Eaton, editor of The Fight Nation, a leading online M.M.A. news site based in Hong Kong. He said that many young fans “can go out and meet a Brandon Vera, so they don’t feel disconnected from the athletes like they are with other international sports.”

Eaton added: “And they are embracing their heritage, which a lot of people feel is very genuine. People feel they can connect to them.”

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The heavyweight Brandon Vera beat Paul Cheng of Canada in a title match for ONE Championship, Asia’s largest mixed martial arts promoter, in the Philippines in December. Vera is an American who has become a star in the Philippines, his ancestral homeland.

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Bullit Marquez/Associated Press

Among those projected for international fame are Vera and Angela Lee, the reigning Asian female M.M.A. fighter of the year. Lee, a 20-year-old atomweight fighter (105 pounds or less) who grew up in Hawaii, was crowned the ONE Championship’s first female…

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