With a World Title on the line in the main event and a tantalizing lightweight match in the co-featured bout, ONE: FIRE & FURY has plenty of prestige and excitement in store at the top of the bill.
However, like every single show from ONE Championship, its first visit to Manila, Philippines, of 2020 is also stacked from top to bottom with contests that promise to keep fans on the edges of their seats.
These are just three that the onefc.com editorial team believes you will not want to miss at the Mall Of Asia Arena next Friday, 31 January.
#1 Danny Kingad Vs. Xie Wei
Danny “The King” Kingad has a case for being the pound-for-pound most exciting athlete in ONE Championship.
In the past two years, he has hardly spent a moment in the Circle without initiating or being at the end of some kind of crazy action. Sometimes that will be because of a chaotic scramble, and at other times he goes all-out on the feet to throw strikes as hard and fast as he can.
The one drawback for the Filipino hero is that he often sacrifices some defensive solidity to go on the attack, but that is great news for the fans because his match-ups are likely to contain some remarkable shifts in momentum for as long as his opponents can match his work rate.
“The Hunter” Xie Wei is likely to be a perfect dance partner because he needs no invitation to go full steam ahead with his striking, or unleash heavy shots on the ground.
The Chinese athlete has used that approach to finish his last five opponents via TKO and he is confident about extending his stoppage streak to six bouts. The question is, can he crack the chin of a man who has never been knocked out, and has a habit of returning fire with interest? It should be fun finding out.
#2 Shoko Sato Vs. Kwon Won Il
South Korea’s Kwon has fearsome power in his right hand and does not waste any time in attacking his opponents, as he showed when he exploded onto the global stage with a 67-second KO over Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen.
The 24-year-old has also proved he has the confidence to dispatch more experienced rivals when he blasted through Eric “The Natural” Kelly in 19 seconds and finished “The Terminator” Sunoto inside two minutes.
He hopes to do the same in Manila against another veteran, but Sato, the Shooto Bantamweight World Champion, is on another level. He brings an astonishing 34-16-3-1 record to the Circle with 18 knockout finishes, and despite his extensive experience, he seems to be just hitting his stride.
He has stopped his last five bouts via strikes, including back-to-back stoppage wins over Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo and Rafael “Morcego” Silva in The Home Of Martial Arts that proved his fierce finishing instincts.
Kwon will come out fast and with intent, but Sato will not be fazed. He has not been stopped in 8 years, so should have no qualms about engaging “Pretty Boy” in a toe-to-toe battle.
#3 Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym Vs. Chris Shaw
When Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym steps into the ring, you can expect something memorable to happen.
Whether he bides his time and waits for the perfect moment to land a KO strike as he did against Andrew Miller, or goes toe-to-toe like in his epic war with Liam “Hitman” Harrison, you can expect something explosive at some point. That is usually bad news for Rodlek’s opponents.
However, ONE Super Series debutant Chris Shaw could have the tools to pick apart the man known as “The Steel Locomotive.” His slick movement could keep him out of danger and his sharp boxing gives him the means to score with his offense.
If Rodlek does get up-close and personal, you would not expect a proud Scotsman to shy away from an all-out battle because the man from Glasgow has no fear of trading strikes with the best in the world.
Many top competitors, including elite Thais, have tried to take him out and found themselves in a long, hard struggle. If that is what happens at the Mall Of Asia Arena, we could see the best of both of these warriors.