On Sunday, 31 March, ONE Championship will finally arrive in one of the traditional powerhouse nations of martial arts.
As the birthplace of several disciplines, many forms of combat sports have enjoyed mainstream success in Japan. In the early 2000s, it was the mecca for the biggest mixed martial arts shows in the world.
While there is still a thriving scene on a national level, “The Land Of The Rising Sun” has not consistently hosted many of the planet’s best competitors for quite some time – until now, that is.
The world’s largest martial arts organization will arrive in Tokyo and begin its ambitious plans for the future with ONE: A NEW ERA in just a few weeks.
A stacked 16-bout card, which includes four World Title match-ups, could signal the explosion of the martial arts scene all over again. Here are five reasons why ONE can wake up the sleeping giant.
#1 The Biggest Bouts
There is no better way to kick things off in Japan than by bringing the biggest bouts possible to Tokyo.
ONE: A NEW ERA will have four mixed martial arts World Title contests, which will feature some of the most popular stars in the sport.
Also on the card is the entire ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarter-final round, the last ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix quarter-final bout, and a kickboxing clash between two legends.
Those 10 matches could headline any event, but they will all be a part of a stacked lineup in Tokyo that is sure to draw eyeballs.
#2 Homecoming Kings & Queen
Japan has produced some of the best martial artists of all time, including numerous top stars who currently compete in ONE.
Now those athletes will have a chance to compete at home again with the upcoming shows planned for Japan.
At the top of the list is submission wizard Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, who will look to reclaim the ONE Lightweight World Championship when he faces Eduard “Landslide” Folayang in the main event on 31 March.
Joining Aoki will be ONE Middleweight World Title challenger Ken Hasegawa, former two-time ONE World Title challenger Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi, WFKO Karate World Champion Hiroki Akimoto, and ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix participants Yuya Wakamatsu and Tatsumitsu Wada.
Although the aforementioned martial artists will enjoy competing in their native country at ONE: A NEW ERA, there will be other Japanese superstars who look forward to making their homecoming at some point.
#3 Returning Heroes
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ONE’s arrival in Japan will not just bring new superstars to the country. Some old-school favorites from the West will also take part in ONE: A NEW ERA, with more expected to follow in the future.
Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez will come back to Japan for the first time since he made his name in DREAM with some of the most exciting contests in mixed martial arts history.
Alvarez has often spoken about his fondness for competing in Japan, and now he will get his chance to electrify the audience there for the first time in more than a decade.
Kickboxing legend Andy Souwer will also return to the land that helped define his career. The Dutchman was a fixture in the legendary K-1 Max World Grand Prix tournaments, and he became an icon when he won two of them.
All of these warriors will receive a warm welcome from the Japanese faithful – as will the likes of Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan and Renzo Gracie, who are all beloved by fans for their success at the highest level.
#4 New Superstars
In addition to many of the old-school favorites, a long list of international superstars are anxious to thrill the Japanese crowd.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is regarded by many fans as the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, and he will showcase his elite skills when he arrives in Tokyo on 31 March.
Also, Yodsanklai Fairtex will get the chance to showcase his jaw-dropping kickboxing skills. When he displayed his talent in “The Land Of The Rising Sun” more than a decade ago, he was still perfecting his craft. But now, he returns to Japan as one of the biggest names in Muay Thai.
#5 True Martial Arts
Martial arts has roots across the globe, but the foundations for many of the most popular disciplines were laid in Japan centuries ago.
The core values that shaped these arts are alive in – and define – ONE today.
All its athletes live by the codes of honor, respect, humility, discipline, compassion, courage, and integrity, which have been part of ONE’s mission statement since the very beginning.
That is just another reason why ONE and Japan will be a perfect fit for many years to come.