Of all the potential show-stealers on the ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES card, one may stand out more than all the others for fans of Asian mixed martial arts.
When Danny “The King” Kingad and Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu meet in a flyweight match-up at Indonesia’s Jakarta Convention Center, two of the most exciting young athletes in the sport will clash.
This is why you should be glued to your screen when these men enter the cage on Saturday, 22 September.
The Tale Of The Tape
Kingad (10-1) should be no stranger to ONE Championship fans.
Despite being just 22 years old, the man from Baguio City, Philippines has already challenged for the ONE Flyweight World Title. Some stunning performances in his first year in the world’s largest martial arts organization gave him that opportunity last year.
The Team Lakay representative is riding a two-bout win streak since his challenge for the belt, capped by an incredible three-round battle with “The Southern Eagle” Ma Hao Bin at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in June.
Wakamatsu (10-2), on the other hand, is one of the most thrilling martial arts prospects to come out of Japan in the last few years.
One of the stars of martial art legend Ryo Chonan’s TRIBE TOKYO MMA team, the 23-year-old has turned heads around the world with his incredible performances in the Pancrase organization, where he was a flyweight tournament champion.
Nine of his wins have come by way of knockout, proving his heavy hands. He will make his ONE debut on the back of becoming the first man to stop Mamoru Yamaguchi with strikes in the Japanese icon’s 48th professional contest.
The Keys To Victory
Wakamatsu likes to put his hands on his opponents.
Whether he gets into range quickly to force the action, or uses his tremendous accuracy to land clinical counter-strikes, he thrives when he can let his heavy punches fly.
If he can back his rival up against the fence, he could have more of an opportunity to put his best foot forward, and land a decisive blow on Kingad.
Kingad’s X-factor in the striking realm is likely to be his kicking game.
His arsenal of front and side-kicks are effective weapons for scoring points, as well as creating distance and keeping assailants at range for the flashy, powerful strikes he and his teammates have become known for.
He also has a path to victory with grappling, as his previous bouts have shown he can score takedowns and maintain top control against experienced ground-game specialists.
The Spoils Of Victory
Since challenging for the gold, Kingad has looked better than ever. He seems to have addressed the holes in his game, and he has gone from strength to strength in his past contests.
If he can maintain his momentum in any way, he could solidify himself as a man who deserves another crack at the title. However, whether he would face teammate Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio for the honor, is another matter.
The fiercely loyal Filipino has publicly stated he would rather act as a gatekeeper than face his Team Lakay brother.
Wakamatsu would have no such qualms, and could get close to the same position if he gets his hand raised.
After all, a win against an established former World Title challenger from the best mixed martial arts team in Asia – particularly if it resembles the manner of his last victory – would be a huge statement.