UFC Signs Leandro Issa, Dave Galera and Royston Wee, but Misses Out on Eddie Ng and Shinya Aoki

November 26, 2013
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Leandro IssaThe UFC has snapped up three fighters currently competing in Asia, but failed in attempts to pry two more away from Asian juggernaut ONE FC. Bantamweights Leandro Issa, Dave Galera and Royston Wee have all been added to the UFC roster with the latter pair set to face each other in Singapore on Jan. 3.

The two that got away were Eddie Ng and Shinya Aoki, who both declined the opportunity to sign with the UFC, preferring instead to continue with their ONE FC careers.

Issa was penciled in to face Koetsu Okazaki at ONE FC: Moment of Truth on Dec. 6, but says company CEO Victor Cui gave him permission to leave the promotion.

“I only had one more fight on my ONE FC deal and the UFC wanted to sign me. I asked Victor Cui and he said I had done some great fights and to say thank you he would allow me to sign. They are the two biggest organizations in the world. I was proud to fight for ONE FC, but when I first started MMA my dream was to fight for UFC. I am so happy that dream is coming true,” he said.

Issa has a record of 11-3 and fought unsuccessfully for the ONE FC 135-pound belt last year. He is based at Evolve MMA in Singapore, which has a reputation as being the top camp in Asia. Head coach Heath Sims said he was honored that the UFC matchmakers wanted to sign three of his fighters.

“I want our fighters to fight for all the biggest promotions in the world like the UFC, ONE FC, and Bellator. Shinya and Eddie talked to the UFC and decided they could earn more fighting for ONE FC.  I am really pumped to have another Evolve MMA fighter on the UFC roster besides Rafael dos Anjos, and I can’t wait to see ‘Brodinho’ make his UFC debut,” he said.

Both Galera and Wee were remaining tight-lipped, but an announcement is expected Wednesday to confirm they will be facing each other in a bantamweight match-up at UFC Fight Night 34, which is set for Marina Bay Sands on Jan. 3. It will be the promotion’s first ever event in Singapore.

Galera (5-0) is a Fil Am fighter who trains out of Team Lakay and comes from a background in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, while Wee (2-0) will become the first Singaporean to ever compete in the Octagon and is fighting for the first time since 2011.

Guam’s Jon Delos Reyes (7-1) has also signed with the UFC and will face fellow PXC veteran Dustin Kimura (10-1) in Singapore, while Korean Tae Bang Hyun (16-7) faces fellow UFC debutant Mairbek Taisumov (19-4) on the same card.

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  • Jay Mcgarrity

    Wonder why Aoki didn’t want to come over :/

    • wolfman

      His fights in the US haven’t gone well for him. Look at his Strikeforce fight with Melendez and his Bellator fight with Alvarez

      • Bugster

        Melendez is a top 3 lightweights now and Aoki did beat Alvarez a (top 10) before.

      • Rezsurfer

        Aoki beat Alvarez, and lost to him.. He took the champ all the way in Gilbert and lost decision. Its money, he is One fc top draw he probally get paid major cash and can fight 2-3 a year and other oganizations. in UFC he locked up and under the UFC only make what you get and thats it… oh you wanna sponser we get part of your money… he aint stupid its about money… anyone says he scared no way, he tried fighting gilbert again but gibert said no way. He is not scared to battle but not stupid to give all his cash to Dana

      • julian moran

        Melendez could arguably be the UFC lw champion now, while Alvarez is the Bellator lw champion.
        Aoki is still a top lw.

    • G-Zus

      The article stated money was an issue. I’d like to see Aoki in the UFC, too.

  • Thank Me

    I would really like for the UFC to sign Ben Askren. He does not possess an exciting fighting style, but his wrestling is dominant. He should get a shot at one of the top 10 of 15 guys in the welterweight division.

    • Jay Mcgarrity

      A lot of us would like to see Askren come over. Dana says Askren needs to go out and win more in other organizations but there’s really only one or two guys that would even challenge him outside of the UFC. Dana has a bias against guys who are predominantly wrestlers but on several occasions he is just straight up disrespecting Askren which is not cool.

      • robc

        What? Where is the bias? GSP, Randy, Matt Hughes, Chael Sonnen, the list goes on and on of wrestling centric fighters in the UFC. Dana doesn’t want Askren because of the Bellator affiliation. Let him go fight in a couple of no name promotions first. They will get him cheap and his Bellator title will have lost value.

        • Jay Mcgarrity

          Wow!!! First off, GSP is not a wrestling based fighter nor does his style center around it. GSP’s style is to mix it up, control, and to throw people off their game. When GSP started MMA, his wrestling was the weakest part of his game.

          Randy and Hughes are almost considered artifacts in the sport at this point. If you wanted to go back that far why not throw in the OG guys with Coleman, Severn, and Randleman. When the sport was at that point, the UFC was taking any and all talent who could compete at that level without much bias.

          With the evolution of the sport and the growing talent, the UFC and Dana White/Lorenzo have their pick of the litter. Dana has said several times that he “hates” guys who are predominantly wrestlers but he doesn’t say it in as nice a manner.

          The most recent example of this will be given in the form of a direct quote by Dana himself. “I was not crazy about Josh Hill’s performance to get into the house. I can’t stand guys that come in and just push against the fence and try to win a fight by, by out wrestling somebody. This isn’t the Ultimate Wrestling Championship, it’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”

          To say that Dana does not want Askren because of the Bellator affiliation is a safe assumption that a lot of us have but to say it’s the only reason or even the main reason is ludicrous. If you’ve been following the Askren situation even remotely, you would know that he is offering to do a fight for free before even inking a fight deal contract. He has already stated that he is willing to take less pay to sign with the UFC than what WSOF is offering him. Dana has signed guys from Bellator in the past and tried extremely hard to get Eddie which is why I pointed out the wrestler bias as it’s the less obvious reason. The sad part is that Dana has not even been watching Askren close enough to see that he has been evolving his game from the time he started. This situation is not about the money. Askren is meeting with the UFC today and Dana will be there via conference call. Hopefully he is signed as I would like to see him tested against top competition and not continue the path of dominating guys bellow him. (yes there is Palhares but why would anyone in the top 10 want to fight him at this point and who is there after him really?)

        • Jay Mcgarrity

          you really going to thumbs down my comment when everything I said was true and can be proven after throwing out a bunch of counterpoints to my original comment which held no validity?

  • Bugster

    Hate to say this, but Aoki and maybe Eddie Eng are the true free agent from Asia. These three are a dime a dozen.

  • wsf

    Aoki is a great MMA style submission fighter, but his stand up is obsolete and he would get crushed in the UFC. Besides, he’s a great ring fighter, but he can’t seem to adapt to the cage like so many other great ring fighters. Guys like Fedor, Wanderlai, Crocop and so many other Pride fighters that were great in the ring, can’t seem to adapt to the cage as well. Even though One FC is in the cage, Aoki has been fighting nobodies, and if he couldn’t win his 2 fights in the US, in smaller organizations, he definately wouldn’t be able to handle the fighters in the UFC.

  • Timothy Malone

    “Shinya and Eddie talked to the UFC and decided they could earn more fighting for ONE FC.”

    Translation: They don’t believe they can become champions in the UFC.

  • befair

    As stated, the reason why they didn’t sign for UFC is because they get more in One FC. Their events packed stadiums, and in 2014 more events are lined up with other major cities in Asia with Australia likely to be added. Because of large spectrum of audience along with televised audience, their prime time slot eclipsed any other mma organizations, simply there are more people in Asia. With China a certainty in 2014, it will elevate them to a larger audience, that even free-to-air television in respective Asian countries want to broadcast One FC events. The fighters in One FC now starting to get huge sponsor endorsement money. Their next event in manila in December will be packed with 20,000. It is no surprising most would choose to stay because the potential is huge, and make no mistake, One FC events are more entertaining due to its rules.

  • anonymous

    royston wee is a guy with two mma fights against opponents with 0-1 or 0-2 records in an organization that is relatively new to the scene and whose roster is still trying to get their bearings in mma what was the criteria in selecting him to be in the worlds best mma organization and an organization that prides itself in selecting the best? Look at chope he has has 24 fights against experienced opponents in established organizations, issa has been in scene and fought top fighter for years, there are many up and coming asian based fighters out there that are more deserving based on their records and experience in more established organizations to fight in the ufc, michnori tanaka, louis smolka, streigl, tommy yang, eric kelly, belignon, bae yong kwon, pitpitunge, fransino tirta, folayang just to name a few. Please UFC keep the standard and give us the best fights here in asia there are lot great fighters here that are overlooked. As someone whose has followed asian mma for more than a decade you are really missing out right talent the represents what the ufc is all about- getting the best