ONE CHAMPIONSHIP does not come back to Manila until August but this early much buzz is generating behind it after it announced a stacked card for the event.
Happening on Aug. 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” will see a world muay thai title fight and a number of high-stakes grand prix matches as part of the proceedings.
Serving as the main event for Dawn of Heroes is the muay thai title fight between reigning champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty of the United Kingdom and challenger Rodtang “Iron Man” Jitmuangnon of Thailand.
Mr. Haggerty captured the title in May with a stunning upset win over erstwhile champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao and now looks to extend his reign against a tough challenger in Rodtang.
The Manila event will also have the semifinal round of the ONE World Flyweight Grand Prix featuring mixed martial arts legend Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson of the United States against Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada of Japan in one bracket and the Philippines’ Danny “The King” Kingad against former ONE World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov of Kazakhstan in the other.
Mr. Johnson made his ONE debut last March when he took on Yuya Wakamatsu. He overcame a spirited effort from his opponent to win by submission in the second round, advancing to the tournament semifinals.
Mr. Wada, for his part, rose over a tough challenge from Cuba’s Gustavo Balart to move the next round of the grand prix.
Filipino Kingad, meanwhile, enters the event off a successful outing in Japan in March where he beat hometown bet Senzo Ikeda in the grand prix quarterfinals.
He now faces Mr. Akhmetov, who seeks to return to the top of the division by of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.
Dawn of Heroes will also mark the return of former ONE champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Honorio “The Rock” Banario.
Mr. Folayang will battle former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champ Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez in a virtual “redemption match” after being on the raw end of the respective fights previously.
The Team Lakay stalwart Folayang lost his lightweight title to Shinya Aoki of Japan in March while Mr. Alvarez was knocked out by Timofey Nastyukhin of Russia in the opening round of the ONE World Lightweight Grand Prix.
Mr. Banario, the former ONE featherweight champion, mixes it up against Mr. Nastyukhin in the lightweight grand prix semifinal.
Meanwhile, ONE Championship plays Shanghai, China, on June 15 with “ONE: Legendary Quest.”
Bannering the event at the Baoshan Arena is the Women’s Atomweight Muay Thai World Championship clash between champion Stamp Fairtex of Thailand and challenger Alma Juniku of Australia.
Filipinos seeing in the Shanghai card are featherweight Eric “The Natural” Kelly, lightweight Trestle Tan and women’s atomweight Angelie Sabanal. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo