Filipino-headlined fights usher in packed year for ONE

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Joshua Pacio
Filipino ONE world strawweight champion Joshua Pacio will defend his title against Japanese challenger Yosuke Saruta at “ONE: Eternal Glory” in Indonesia on Jan. 19, which will kick off a 45-event year for 2019 for ONE Championship. -- ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

ASIA’S largest martial arts organization ONE Championship is poised for a packed 2019 after announcing it would be hosting 45 events this year, beginning with two which will be headlined by Filipino world champions.

First to fire off is “ONE: Eternal Glory” in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan. 19, where Filipino ONE world strawweight champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio will try to defend his title for the first time against Japanese challenger Yosuke Saruta.

Eternal Glory is 15-fight card that will also see Filipinos Edward Kelly and Robin Catalan in action taking separate opponents.

Mr. Kelly, a teammate of Mr. Pacio in Team Lakay, will battle Singapore’s Christian Lee in a featherweight clash while strawweight Catalan faces off with Indonesian Stefer Rahardian.

After a week, another Team Lakay teammate of Mr. Pacio, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, will make his own title defense for the first time, taking on former ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes of Brazil for the third time in what practically is a rubber match in the event dubbed “ONE: Hero’s Ascent” here in Manila on Jan. 25.

In their first two encounters, Messrs. Eustaquio and Moraes split things with the latter taking the first in 2014 and the Filipino exacting payback in June last year to seize the flyweight gold.

Also part of Hero’s Ascent are Honorio “The Rock” Banario and Danny “The King” Kingad.

Mr. Banario takes on American Lowen Tynanes in a world grand prix lightweight quarterfinal while Mr. Kingad squares off with Japanese Tatsumitsu Wada in a flyweight battle.

Eternal Glory and Hero’s Ascent are among ONE’s 24 flagship events for 2019, which include forays into new territories such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

In addition, Rich Franklin’s ONE Warriors Series will double its number of 2018 live shows with six in 2019.

The groundbreaking documentary series kicked off with three thrilling cards held in Singapore, and saw ONE Vice-President Franklin unearthing Asia’s finest burgeoning talent.

This includes the likes of Thai sensation Stamp Fairtex, who captured the ONE Kickboxing Atomweight World Championship en route to being named ONE’s 2018 Breakthrough Athlete of the Year.

Furthermore, ONE will host 12 ONE Hero Series events in 2019, with further details on the new format to be announced at a later date.

On top of the elite combat sports that are set to light up Asia this year, ONE Esports will also get under way. There will be three of the colossal gaming events on offer, held alongside the martial arts shows in weekend spectacles. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo