ONE: A NEW ERA will be the biggest event in martial arts history for many reasons, but there is no bigger factor than the four World Title matches scheduled to take place.
When ONE Championship lands in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March, three epic rematches and one World Champion versus World Champion super-bout will close a spectacular event.
There is normally nothing more important than gold being on the line, but there is so much more at stake when The Home Of Martial Arts comes to the Ryogoku Kokugikan.
This is what will be driving the heroes in the biggest contests of the night.
Team VS Team, Nation VS Nation
Team Lakay and Evolve have produced multiple ONE World Champions to emerge as the leading gyms in Asian mixed martial arts.
However, last year the collective from Baguio City, the Philippines staked its claim to be the top facility on the continent as four of its athletes captured ONE World Titles.
The Singapore team has the chance to get a win back when its two superstar lightweights face off in the main event in Tokyo as Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang defends his ONE Lightweight World Title against Japanese superstar Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki.
But it is not just bragging rights between top training centers on the line, as each man will represent his homeland in a clash between the most successful mixed martial arts heroes from the sport’s powerhouse nations.
Aoki will proudly represent Japan as the world’s largest martial arts organization comes to his homeland for the first time. In the other corner, Folayang will attempt to make his first World Title defense on foreign soil, and bring the belt back home to the Philippines.
World Champion VS World Champion
ONE Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee will attempt to make history as the first two-division women’s World Champion in ONE history.
That will not be easy, however, as she must defeat Chinese knockout artist “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan to claim her ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title.
Lee is undefeated with a string of submission finishes and astonishing performances on her resume, but she will be tested like never before on 31 March.
The Singaporean star has to go through one of the most dangerous power punchers women’s mixed martial arts has ever known as Xiong looks to defend her turf and her title.
Xiong is undefeated in ONE Championship with four consecutive wins – part of an eight-bout streak overall – and she will do everything possible to hang onto her title when she faces Lee in Japan.
However, Lee is invigorated with a new level of motivation heading into this contest after recovering from a back injury that forced this match to be postponed in November.
The Greatest Bout – Round 2
It was 2018’s Bout Of The Year, and possibly the most exciting bout in ONE history.
Now the Myanmar superstar and the battle-tested Japanese veteran are going to do it all over again.
Following the war of attrition that unfolded the last time these two met, Aung La N Sang will once again put his middleweight belt on the line against the toughest opponent he has faced as a World Champion.
Hasegawa showed unreal heart and durability in the first match-up, and now with a home crowd behind him, the Japanese warrior is sure to bring his best and push “The Burmese Python” to the limit once again.
A Shot At Redemption
Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes was the longest reigning World Champion in ONE history thanks to his nine wins in World Title bouts, but his run came to a dramatic end when he fell by split decision to Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon.
It was sweet redemption for the Team Lakay athlete as he avenged a 2016 loss to become the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion.
Belingon is undefeated since his first contest with the Brazilian three years ago, and he hopes to keep that streak alive when the rubber match takes place in Tokyo.
For Fernandes, this trilogy bout gives him the opportunity to reclaim the belt and bounce back from his first loss in eight years.
There is a lot of mutual respect between these two warriors, but once that cage door closes, expect fireworks when Belingon and Fernandes meet for the third time.