The biggest stars in martial arts all had to make a name for themselves somewhere, and for our talented young athletes, that would be right inside the ONE Championship cage.
On 3 November, reigning ONE Middleweight World Champion Aung La “Burmese Python” N Sang and four-time Muay Thai and kickboxing heavyweight world champion Alain “The Panther” Ngalani will take the spotlight at the center of the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.
Besides the thrilling main event, fans will also get to see some of the most promising young warriors in martial arts today. The level of talent in Asia is deep, and the next superstar could be revealed right before our eyes in Yangon, Myanmar.
Before they step onto the stage and showcase their amazing skills, let’s take a look at four athletes to keep an eye on at ONE: HERO’S DREAM.
The recent explosion of martial arts in Myanmar, brought about by national icon Aung La N Sang, has seen a slew of Lethwei competitors make their way to the ONE cage. Perhaps the most successful of which has been 32-year-old Phoe Thaw.
Since making his debut in 2015, Thaw has steamrolled through the competition. All four of his matches have ended via TKO in the first round, the most tremendous being last October at ONE: STATE OF WARRIORS, when he defeated Saw Yan Paing to become the ONE Myanmar Featherweight Tournament Champion. In fact, he has tied the record for the most knockouts in ONE featherweight history.
In addition to his most recent accomplishments inside the cage, Thaw is also an established Lethwei artist who has a 3-0-2 record in the ring. The featherweight does not just want to become a successful martial artist, though. He also wants to see the growth of martial arts as a whole.
A native of Yangon, Thaw is also a graduate of the University of Dagon with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He has put his education to good use too, using his analytical skills to tweak his lethwei training for the cage.
Because of that, Thaw has emerged as one of the most exciting new talents in ONE, and has built a solid following in his hometown. At ONE: HERO’S DREAM this Friday, Thaw will take on fellow countryman Saw Ba Oo.
Ma Hao Bin
More popularly known as “The Southern Eagle,” China’s Ma Hao Bin (8-1) is an extraordinary martial artist with an exciting and extremely aggressive style that is both fan-friendly and effective. The 23-year-old Chinese national freestyle wrestling champion is well-rounded, and equipped with a diverse set of striking and grappling skills.
Making his professional debut in January 2016 at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (CHANGSHA), Ma bagged the ONE Changsha Bantamweight Tournament trophy by defeating fellow countryman Wu Ting Shen and Bu Huo You Ga in a single evening of action. Since then, he has strung together six more impressive victories, and overall has three wins via submission and one via knockout.
Hailing from the town of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, Ma first developed a liking for martial arts because he wanted to get in shape and learn to better defend himself. After being introduced to wrestling in 2005 and becoming a national champion in the sport, he transitioned to the cage and has found success in ONE Championship.
A large part of that success has stemmed from Ma’s relentless ability to seek the quickest route to victory, which explains why he has the fastest submission in ONE bantamweight history. With a penchant for scoring incredible finishes, like his thriller over Hexigetu at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI this past September, “The Southern Eagle” looks to impress audiences once again in his next outing.
Riding a six-bout win streak, Ma heads into ONE: HERO’S DREAM looking to keep his stellar run alive with another victory, this time over dangerous Filipino striker Eugene Toquero.
Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit (8-0) of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is a regional Muay Thai champion who once owned an impressive 72-17 Muay Thai record. He made his professional cage debut in 2014, and has since remained unbeaten in the cage.
Joining ONE in 2016, Mitsatit has emerged as one of Thailand’s most exciting young talents. He holds two successive first-round technical knockouts in the promotion, defeating Lethwei champion Ye Thway Ne in his first bout, and stopping Filipino wushu veteran Rabin Catalan in his follow-up contest.
A bonafide finisher, Mitsatit has only been the distance once, with seven of his wins coming inside the opening round. He trains at Team Quest Thailand, where he works tirelessly on his ground game while adapting his elite Muay Thai skills.
At ONE: HERO’S DREAM, the 21-year-old brings his unique high-octane style back to the ONE cage against the Philippines’ Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado.
Already with a huge following due to his aggressive style, China’s “Rock Man” Chen Lei (6-0) is a 28-year-old martial artist with a complete set of striking and grappling skills, which has carried him throughout his young career.
Hailing from Hunan province, Chen believes that a man should be able to protect himself and his loved ones, which is what led him to study martial arts. Although he first began training in boxing and Muay Thai, he has switched his focus to the cage, and even won a regional BJJ championship in Shanghai after developing his ground game.
Training out of the Changsha Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, Chen has since amassed a perfect record in professional competition, and has showed his outstanding potential. This includes an impressive ONE debut where he defeated Jeremy Meciaz via first-round TKO, and he followed that up with an impressive third-round armbar submission of Malaysia’s Saiful Merican.
At ONE: HERO’S DREAM, Chen will challenge Filipino warrior Burn Soriano. Fans will not want to miss a single moment of action inside the ONE cage when Chen climbs back in, as the wily Chinese stalwart will definitely look to put on another inspiring performance.