On 31 March, ONE Championship will stage its historic first event in Tokyo, Japan as ONE: A NEW ERA hits the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan.
To match the occasion, the organization’s matchmaking committee has compiled the most stacked martial arts card ever assembled, with the best of the best set to compete in what promises to be one of the most spectacular events of all time.
Normally, we would pick a few reasons why the entire show is a must-see affair.
However, with so many epic match-ups that could be main event bouts in their own right spread across the main card and prelims, it is impossible to narrow things down too much.
First, here are just four reasons why you simply cannot miss the main card of this monumental event.
4 World Championship Bouts
The first ONE event held in Japan also offers the most incredible set of World Championship bouts in the history of The Home Of Martial Arts as an unprecedented four belts will be on the line at the top of a star-studded card.
The first World Title contest of the night sees ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon face off against former longtime World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes in a rubber match to conclude their epic rivalry.
Usually, a bout of that magnitude would be the headline attraction, but this is a very different — and very special — event.
This will be a rerun of the greatest match on the global stage for martial arts, so expectations are high for more fireworks as this time, the challenger goes after the ONE Middleweight World Title on home soil.
The third and final co-main event features a World Champion versus World Champion battle. ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee steps up a weight division to challenge China’s “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan for her strawweight gold.
There has never been a bigger women’s martial arts match between Asian athletes, and it promises to be a spectacular contest.
This is the long-awaited rematch of the shocking bout that saw the Filipino hero begin his first reign with the gold. Now at the start of his second campaign with the belt, Folayang will aim to make lightning strike twice as he enters an arena that will surely be full of fans supporting his rival.
It is a phenomenal quartet of World Title tussles unlike anything seen before in martial arts, and they are sure to light up the Ryogoku Kokugikan.
A Rematch Of Striking Legends
Two of the most revered names from the worlds of kickboxing and Muay Thai will go head to head for the second time in a hotly-anticipated ONE Super Series kickboxing clash.
Dutch superstar Andy Souwer claimed the win over Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex in the first meeting between this pair more than a decade ago, but the Muay Thai legend has never had the chance to even the score.
However, with the inception of ONE Super Series, these two icons have found themselves under the same banner, and the opportunity has emerged for “Souwer Power” and “The Hero” to face off in a rematch in Tokyo.
Both men have more experience, more know-how, and more World Titles than when they first met, and with both keen to make a statement in ONE Super Series, their return meeting promises to be one of the spectacular highlights of the night.
Mighty Mouse Makes His ONE Debut
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s high-profile arrival in ONE dominated the mixed martial arts news cycle for weeks following the pound-for-pound great’s decision to swap North America for Asia.
On 31 March in Tokyo, the 12-time Flyweight World Champion will make his eagerly-anticipated debut in The Home Of Martial Arts when he faces off against Japan’s Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu in the quarter-finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.
Much is expected from Johnson, but Pancrase veteran Wakamatsu is likely to provide a stern test for the record-breaking icon on his ONE debut.
Both men will bring super speed, incredible skill, and never-say-die warrior spirit to the ring, which will make this tussle an all-action affair.
The Underground King Kicks Off His ONE Career
American lightweight superstar Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez also makes his debut on the global stage for martial arts as he bids to tear through the ONE lightweight division in search of yet another mixed martial arts World Title.
Alvarez has captured World Championship gold in both the UFC and Bellator, proving himself to be one of the very best lightweight athletes in the history of his sport.
The only thing missing on his résumé is the ONE belt, but to get that, he will have to make it through the stacked ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
His first assignment in the tournament’s last quarter-final match could not be tougher, as he will step up against Timofey Nastyukhin – a man with a penchant for early knockout victories.
The Russian loves nothing better than to stand and trade, and his style should dovetail perfectly with Alvarez’s own competitive ethos.
Do not be surprised if Alvarez and Nastyukhin’s lightweight throwdown steals the entire show.