On Saturday, 7 July, the world’s leading martial artists will head to the Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium for ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
A historic headline bout will crown the inaugural ONE Super Series Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion, and it will be supported by contests featuring many of the world’s best Muay Thai competitors, kickboxers, and mixed martial artists, all of whom are known for delivering exciting action.
With event night just a few days away, check out three of the best performances from the athletes competing in China.
Istela Nunes VS Mei Yamaguchi
Istela Nunes had a big hill to climb in her first ONE Championship appearance.
The Brazilian, who was riding a wave of momentum after hitting a sensational triple-head-kick knockout in her home country, faced Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD in August 2016.
At the time, the Japanese competitor had five-times as many professional mixed martial arts bouts as her adversary, and she was three months removed from taking Angela Lee all the way to the judges in a historic bout for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
There was a lot of pressure, but Nunes came out on top. The two-time Muay Thai World Champion had a clear game plan – she wanted to keep the bout standing, and use her range to land straight punches, kicks, and knees on her shorter foe.
Yamaguchi used constant pressure to close the distance, and she maintained a relentless pace. The Brazilian, however, matched it and landed hard strikes at every opportunity.
If it was a test Nunes needed to take to punch her ticket for a World Title shot, then it was certainly a tough one, as “V.V.” pushed her until the final bell. Ultimately, the debutante passed with top marks, as the judges gave the striker the nod via split decision.
Now, the Brazilian will test her stand-up skills against another superb striker in China.
Gina Iniong VS Natalie Gonzales Hills
Nunes’ opponent in Guangzhou is Team Lakay’s Gina “Conviction” Iniong, who had a lot to live up to after the success of her stablemates in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
Fortunately for the six-time Philippine Wushu Champion, she put in a performance they all would have been proud of in her promotional debut.
In April 2017, Iniong made her bow at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY in her home country at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila.
Going up against Natalie “The Kilapino” Gonzales Hills, she delivered in every aspect. “Conviction” showcased pinpoint striking, and a strong ground game.
Mostly, it was a well-timed right hand that saw the Team Lakay competitor run away on the scorecards, as only Gonzales Hills’ durability managed to keep her in the contest.
Although Iniong had been out of action for 15 months before her first ONE appearance, she did not skip a beat. She attacked from the opening bell, and dropped her foe to the canvas in the first stanza, much to the delight of the local fans.
After 15 minutes, she earned a well-deserved unanimous decision. “Conviction” will look to be just as aggressive against Nunes on 7 July.
Robin Catalan VS Jeremy Miado
After spending a year recovering from nagging injuries, Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan returned stronger than ever in his second ONE appearance, when he met fellow Filipino Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY last April.
Miado presented a dangerous challenge due to his powerful striking, honed through his boxing and Muay Thai background.
Though Catalan is also a successful Muay Thai competitor as an IFMA World Muay Thai Champion, he employed a strategy that showcased his well-rounded martial arts game, and how much he had added to his arsenal in his year away from the cage.
As “The Jaguar” attacked with hard punches and knees, Catalan closed the distance and was relentless in his pursuit of takedowns in every round. He continued to shoot in until he could elevate his opponent, slam him onto the mat, and then dictate proceedings on the ground.
It was a great show of versatility and tenacity, and Catalan was awarded the victory via split decision after three rounds.
For his next bout, “The Ilonggo” has drawn Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
Guangzhou | 7 July | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast