Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series (OWS) has traveled the length and breadth of Asia to find the best up-and-coming martial artists on the continent.
Along with a reality series that has chronicled the ONE Championship Vice President’s journey with his team of talent scouts, three events have allowed these hot prospects to test their skills against each other and show the world what they can do.
There have been all-out battles, spectacular knockouts, and stunning submissions. There have also been several stand-out performers, and a select few have won a coveted contract to compete in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 12 October 2018
The number of athletes who have made the cut is small, but that does not mean the standard has not been high. The potential stars of the future who have not graduated to the main roster yet will have plenty of opportunities to make the jump in 2019.
Here are some of the most promising stars that have featured on OWS cards in 2018 who could take the next big step in their careers next year.
The 25-year-old strawweight got his shot on OWS 3, and looked confident and composed from the opening bell. Adiwang is clearly a student of Mark Sangiao in the mold of mentor Kevin Belingon, as he threw heavy punches and spinning kicks in the direction of Tiger Muay Thai’s Manuel “Tick” Huerta.
Adiwang’s beginnings in boxing were evident. The more he grew in confidence, the more he let his hands go – until a hard counter uppercut flattened Huerta and earned him a first-round knockout victory.
Rangy bantamweight Hyunjin “The Lion” Lee (2-0) has showcased his skill in every range in his two OWS outings. His perfect slate includes a TKO and a submission finish, and he has shown he can utilize his six-foot frame to strike, wrestle, and grapple his way to victory.
In his first outing against Shafkat Khodzkulov, he wore his rival out on the feet, countered a takedown attempt, and then dominated on the ground to get a triangle choke at the 3:49 mark of round one
Against Michael Walker, he showed great submission defense, and then striking power, as he knocked out his American foe with a head kick in the second stanza. His wide-ranging skill set will be an asset as he moves forward and gains more experience.
Japan’s Eto Kimihiro (15-4-2) had mostly given up on his martial arts dreams, despite success as a wrestler in his youth. He graduated college and hung up his singlet, but found mixed martial arts a couple of years later and got hooked.
He brought his wrestling prowess into his new sport, and debuted as a professional in 2013. In 2018, he caught the eye of Rich Franklin, and has competed on all three OWS events to date.
Though he was defeated on the first show, his opponent – Dae Song Park – was one of the most talented athletes we have seen and was awarded a lucrative contract. That setback did not deter Kimihiro, and he picked up back-to-back arm-triangle choke victories in subsequent events to mark himself as a top prospect.
Emmanuel “The Biafran Warrior” Onyedikachi (3-0) has an unblemished record, with all three of his victories coming in OWS.
The Cambodia-based Nigerian athlete cuts an imposing figure, and his skills are consistently improving, too. He has two decision victories, but his most memorable win came via TKO against Sandeep Kumar Dahiya in his second professional match.
He overcame a massive experience differential to usurp the Indian warrior – who had 16 professional contests under his belt – with a TKO via leg kicks. Though his skills are raw, Onyedikachi’s athleticism and power were great equalizers as he launched powerful strikes at his foe.
His physical gifts mean he will be one to watch if he continues his martial arts evolution into 2019.
Nyrene “Neutron Bomb” Crowley (3-0) was an athletic youngster interested in a variety of competitive sports.
She found mixed martial arts relatively late compared to many of her peers, but she became so enamored that she quit the security of her job and left her home in New Zealand to train full-time in Thailand, and now Bali.
At this pivotal time early in her career, ONE Warrior Series came along, and her coach Andrew Leone suggested she try out for a spot on the roster – and even paid for her flights to Jakarta.
Crowley impressed Franklin to earn her shot under the lights, and was victorious in her first bout against So Yul Kim by unanimous decision.
In her second showing, she was even more impressive. The 29-year-old showed off her Muay Thai skills in round one before her grappling took her to a rear-naked choke submission of Anita Karim in round two.