How ONE Warrior Series Made Lito Adiwang The Athlete He Is Today

From competing in small venues to performing on the global stage, it was certainly a memorable year for Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang – and it all started in ONE Warrior Series.

As 2019 comes to a close, the 26-year-old looks back on his time in ONE Championship’s developmental league and how it prepared him for ONE: CENTURY, the largest martial arts event in history.

For the Filipino strawweight, it was all about hard work and determination.

“It’s like a dream. It was a fruitful year for me in my career. I was successful in OWS and then in my debut with ONE, so I am very happy. I learned a lot this year. I saw how if you are entirely focused on what you truly want, then you will get it,” Adiwang says.

“I just have to make sure I remain grounded and focused. I just have to keep the fire burning, even though I have reached my earlier goals.

“The desire to always improve and be a better version of myself should always be there, so I don’t remain stagnant and I always remain expecting.”

As successful as 2019 was for the Baguio City native, he is just getting started.

Adiwang begins the new year with a stiff challenge. He is scheduled to face Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit at ONE: FIRE & FURY, which emanates from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on Friday, 31 January.

The Team Lakay standout, who has not competed on home soil since 2013, believes this could be the next step in a long path to a ONE World Championship opportunity.

“I am visualizing that I will keep on winning, and hopefully be a top contender,” he says.

“I want to close 2020 and enter 2021 as one of the top athletes and closer to a title shot. That’s what pushes me to keep the fire burning in this sport.”

Adiwang is the perfect example of what could happen to a mixed martial artist who finds success in OWS.

“Thunder Kid” started competing in OWS in 2018, where he knocked out Manuel Huerta before racking up wins against Alber Correia Da Silva and Anthony Do this year. That victory over Do resulted in a six-figure contract and main roster spot.

Then, at ONE: CENTURY PART I in Tokyo, Japan this past October, Adiwang made short work of Pancrase Flyweight World Champion Senzo Ikeda to announce his arrival on the global stage.

Lito Adiwang defeats Senzo Ikeda at ONE CENTURY

“My time with OWS really shaped my career. It was a really big help to go through that process. I gained a lot of experience facing different athletes there, and inside and outside the [ring], I learned a lot of things,” Adiwang says.

“I picked up a lot of things from my opponents and I noticed a lot of things that I needed to improve on. I also met a lot of people who continue to help me in my career. Those are the reasons why the experience was so valuable for me.”

Read more: Lito Adiwang Plans Future After Impressive ONE Debut