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

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Leandro Issa Determined to Prevail in Battle of Asian MMA Veterans at the TUF 19 Finale
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Leandro Issa Determined to Prevail in Battle of Asian MMA Veterans at the TUF 19 Finale

The 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.

(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)

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