The next event from ONE Championship is absolutely stacked with some of the biggest names in martial arts.
The two weeks since the last ONE blockbuster have seemed like a long time after the back-to-back events in June and July, but ONE: REIGN OF KINGS will make up for the wait with a phenomenal card.
On Friday, 27 July, almost two dozen superhero athletes will put it all on the line to prevail in some of the biggest bouts of their careers.
This is the pick of the action when the ONE cage returns to the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, the Philippines.
The ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title Match
First, there are the stakes, as the ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Nguyen will go for his historic third belt in a match-up for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship.
It is also a bout between two of the most skilled and dangerous martial artists in any division. While both men have shown they are excellent grapplers, their forte is striking, and they have used their weapons to great effect in the past few years, achieving numerous knockouts.
Both men have stated their intentions to make this an entertaining contest, and both have a great deal of high-level experience to suggest they can deliver, even when the pressure is on in the face of a supremely capable opponent.
Their careers have been built on their formidable offensive capabilities, so expect fireworks when they meet.
Even at a high pace, it should also be a fascinating tactical battle, as Belingon and his team try to succeed where two of his Team Lakay training partners have failed. Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly and Eduard “Landslide” Folayang both fell to the Vietnamese-Australian, who test Mark head coach Sangiao’s game-planning for a third time on 27 July.
A Clash Of Styles And Top Contenders
Two of the most popular men in ONE Championship appear to be the frontrunners for the next shot at Nguyen’s lightweight belt, which adds prestige to a clash that is already compelling.
This co-main event contest looks likely to be decided by whichever athlete can impose their specialty on the other. Can Shinya “Tobikan Jukan” Aoki take the match to the mat and get a submission, or will Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai stay on his feet and land the strike to close the show?
Of course, it is possible that either of these heroes could surprise us with a dynamic new approach, or they both match each other throughout a tactical battle that plays out over 15 minutes. But, history suggests fans should strap in for an edge-of-your-seat experience that could end at any moment.
Each individual has tasted the vast majority of their victories by stoppage, and their most recent bouts were some of the most impressive examples of their finishing instincts.
Thai pioneer Wiratchai knocked out Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju in 21 seconds, while Japanese legend Aoki only needed 3:15 to tie Rasul Yakhyaev up in a triangle choke.
The judges may not be needed for this one.
Filipino Favorites Go Big At Home
There is nothing like an athlete being roared on by a partisan crowd, particularly when it is by the passionate Filipinos in the Mall of Asia Arena.
As well as Kevin Belingon in the headline attraction, a selection of local favorites is set to have their efforts supercharged by rapturous receptions in the Philippines – adding further weight to bouts that are already tantalizing.
Up first, opposing Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian is Rene “The Challenger” Catalan, who will stand opposite him for a sizzling battle of red-hot strawweights. The hometown hero brings a four-bout winning streak in against the Indonesian’s nine-match unbeaten run.
In a potential show-stealer, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio will need all the support the home fans can give him to hand Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit the first defeat of his mixed martial arts career. Both men are young, hungry, highly-skilled strikers, which should make for an electric encounter.
Finally, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang will add some extra Filipino flair to the main card. The national icon will face a stiff test, as he welcomes Aziz Pahrudinov and his incredible 20-0-1 record to ONE.
An impressive performance for either man could see them leap ahead in the race to secure a ONE Lightweight World Title shot, so brace yourself for a great show.
The Striking Superstars Of ONE Super Series
It would not be a ONE Championship show these days without a trio of ONE Super Series bouts to add variety and vitality to the bout card.
The main card will kick off with all-striking action, as Panicos Yusuf and Han Zi Hao make their bows in the Home Of Martial Arts.
Cyprus-born Yusuf is based in England, and is half-Filipino, thanks to his mother, who is from Manila. He may get a little local love when he faces an experienced Muay Thai warrior from China in a bantamweight bout.
Immediately after that, Armen Petrosyan – brother of Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, who impressed in his ONE debut earlier this year – will face Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi, who returns after an awesome encounter with Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
The prelims will be bolstered by a true Thai superstar – Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium Muay Thai World Champion Chamuaktong Fightermuaythai. He meets the Netherlands’ Brown Pinas.
Legend Versus Legend
Though it was difficult to leave anything off this list, it would be impossible to overlook arguably the two most prestigious names at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS.
This special attraction is free from the pressures of any ordinary bout. Neither icon is concerned with positioning themselves to compete for a belt, and neither has anything to lose, either, as their status as all-time greats is secure.
They are free to leave it all on the line and put on a show for the fans as they add another entry to their storied careers, by stepping into the world’s largest martial arts organization for the first time.