On Friday, 31 January, ONE Championship returned to Manila, Philippines with another unforgettable night that gave us brand new insights into some of the biggest stars in martial arts.
At ONE: FIRE & FURY, athletes reached new heights and proved they may have some huge futures at the highest level in The Home Of Martial Arts.
Here are just five of our big takeaways from an incredible evening at the Mall Of Asia Arena.
#1 Pacio Is The Most Dominant Strawweight In History
With the win, the Team Lakay standout became the first man to defend the ONE Strawweight World Title twice. He also now has wins against every other man who has owned the belt – and two of those avenged defeats – which means no one can dispute his claim to the throne for now.
Pacio is also by far the youngest of the weight class’ elite, which suggests he would have the advantage if he was to face any of those athletes again.
His youthful energy gave him the edge in the championship rounds against Silva, and he is still far from his physical peak, meaning he still has plenty of time to improve his skills while others work hard just to stay at the same level. It looks like it will be a tall order to dethrone the 24-year-old from Baguio City.
#2 Team Lakay’s New Generation Ready To Take Over
Since ONE Championship’s inception, Team Lakay heroes like Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Honorio “The Rock” Banario have been stalwarts – claiming World Title gold while entertaining the fans.
Though there is a lot of life left in these warriors, there is a new crop from their gym ready to carry on their work and extend their legacy for the next decade.
Pacio has already reached the top, and his number one training partner Danny “The King” Kingad – also just 24 – showed once again why he looks set to be a permanent fixture at the top of the flyweight division with another entertaining victory that ended the phenomenal win streak of “The Hunter” Xie Wei.
On the lead card, Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang gave fans another reason to get excited about his future on the global stage. The ONE Warrior Series contract winner’s second win in the Circle extended his winning streak to seven matches, and at just 26, he could end up joining Pacio at the top of his class.
There was also Gina “Conviction” Iniong, who is an experienced martial artist, but is still just getting started in The Home Of Martial Arts. Her domination of Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka was her second impressive win in a row and fifth overall in women’s atomweight division – as many as ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
A match with “Unstoppable” could be in her future if she continues her streak.
#3 Petchdam Back To His Roots And Back To His Best
“The Baby Shark” Petchdam Petchyindee Academy may have won the ONE Kickboxing World Title last year, but he is definitely at the top of his game when he competes in Muay Thai.
Even when he was put under pressure by the unorthodox style of Kohei “Momotaro” Kodera, he could rely on his world-class fundamentals to blast his way back into the contest and get the edge on the judges’ scorecards.
As always, his left kick scored almost every time he unleashed it, but the big difference came when he could stifle his rival’s punching combinations by entering the clinch. From that position, his elbows and knees made all the difference.
While it would be crazy to discount the Bangkok KO artist’s chances in any kind of match-up, the only time he can use all of his best and most dangerous weapons is under Muay Thai rules.
#4 Sato Is A Cut Above
Shoko Sato has now faced three highly-regarded contenders in the ONE bantamweight division, and he has wiped them all out.
His latest win against “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il was his most clinical yet as the 31-year-old from Tokyo, Japan, avoided his opponent’s dangerous right hand, put him on the canvas, and choked him until he tapped. It was all over after a little more than four minutes.
Sato has faced some stiff opposition from rising stars, but when he has put his foot on the gas, he has shown his class to finish in style and prove he belongs at the very highest level.
He arrived on the global stage as Shooto Bantamweight World Champion, and maybe now it is time for him to challenge Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes for the ONE Bantamweight World Title?
#5 Hogstad Could Give The Queen A New Challenge
That looked like a fair assumption when she eased into her match with Anne “Ninja” Line Hogstad and looked as bright as ever. However, her Norwegian opponent got stronger as the bout progressed, and she showed tremendous strength to dominate in the clinch in the final round and steal the win on the judges’ cards.
As a two-time ISKA Muay Thai World Champion, Hogstad has a track record of doing the business when gold is on the line, so she would provide an intriguing challenge for Stamp now that she has shown she is a growing concern the world’s largest martial arts organization.