By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
TOKYO — If staging a never-been-done-before offering of two full shows in one day was not challenging enough, ONE Championship’s 100th live show “Century” on Oct. 13 faced the possibility of being washed out altogether with a super-typhoon hitting Japan less than 24 hours before the event itself as an added hurdle.
The two-pronged ONE: Century eventually pushed through, drawing positive response from the crowd who trekked to the famed Ryogoku Kokugikan in Sumida City to catch the action live and from those who caught the event broadcast on various platforms, including for the first time people in the United States where Century was beamed on prime time over TNT and B/R Live, something company officials took special pride in and had them going away with a sense of accomplishment.
“Up to the last minute we had emergency and emergency meetings because of the typhoon. We actually did not get the generators for the stadium until 4 a.m. this (Sunday) morning. Without the generators the show would have been cancelled,” shared ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong in the post-event press conference.
The ONE official was alluding to super-typhoon “Hagibis” which made its presence felt on Saturday, wreaking havoc on a large part of Japan with heavy rains, strong winds and flooding.
The country was also hit by a 5.3-magnitude earthquake just as Hagibis was pounding with much ferocity.
Having weathered such challenges, Mr. Sityodtong could not help but be grateful to all the people who helped make Century happen and be a success.
“So that was how tight for us because of the typhoon, the earthquake and the flooding, I don’t think anyone can throw two full events in the middle of the typhoon. Credit to our athletes and our whole team, It’s just amazing. We’re just very happy,” Mr. Sityodtong said.
Mr. Sityodtong added that after ONE: Century bigger things are still in store for the organization as it moves forward to its many plans to bring true martial arts anchored on solid life values to the fore.
“I think when we look back a year from now, two years from now, three years from now at the Century event we can say it was a huge inflection point in the growth not only of ONE Championship but also in the major acceptance of martial arts. But we will also look back at this moment and be surprised how small it was in the grand scheme of things because I have a bigger and bolder plans for ONE Championship that will make ONE: Century a small tiny dot in time,” said Mr. Sityodtong.
“So while I’m grateful and celebrating today what we have achieved, and something no other organization in the world had accomplished, bigger things will come. Mark my word,” he added.
CHAMPIONS STAY CHAMPS
Meanwhile, reigning ONE champions got to keep their hardware on Sunday after gutsy performances against highly determined challengers.
ONE world atomweight champion Angela “The Unstoppable” Lee of Singapore exacted payback on China’s “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan, the women’s strawweight champion, in the main event of Part One of Century.
Loss in her bid to seize the strawweight belt from the Chinese champion last March, Ms. Lee held tough in her division and dug deep to outlast and beat her opponent (rear-naked choke) in the closing seconds of the final round and keep her title.
Brazilian world bantamweight champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, for his part, put the dot on his rivalry with Filipino Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon by forcing a submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round of their fourth clash in ONE in the co-main event of Part Two of Century.
In the main event of Part Two, light heavyweight champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang won a slugfest with Brandon “The Truth” Vera, emerging on top with a second-round technical knockout victory due to strikes to keep his belt. Despite the loss, Mr. Vera remains as the ONE heavyweight champion.
Other notable winners were lightweight champion Christian Lee who bucked two weeks’ notice as replacement in the world lightweight grand prix final to beat Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev of Turkey by unanimous decision and claim the GP belt; Demetrious Johnson over Filipino Danny Kingad to win the flyweight grand prix title; Italian Georgio Petrosyan over Samy Sana of France in their featherweight kickboxing world grand prix joust; and Thai Rodatang Jitmuangnon over Brazilian Walter Goncalves in their flyweight muay thai world championship.
ONE-debuting Lito Adiwang of Team Lakay was the lone winner in Century after defeating Japanese Senzo Ikeda by technical knockout (injury) in the first round.
Next for ONE Championship is “Dawn of Valor,” happening on Oct. 25 in Jakarta, Indonesia.