There is no disputing Evolve and Team Lakay are the ruling powerhouses in the Asian martial arts scene at the moment, with athletes from both camps competing at the World Championship level in ONE Championship.
Singapore mega gym Evolve has amassed a squad of World Champion athletes from all around the globe, forming a team of superstars encompassing the worlds of Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Team Lakay has taken a different approach. The humble gym has used a back-to-basics approach to forge its homegrown wushu champions into mixed martial arts World Champions in Baguio City, Philippines.
The results have been astounding on both sides.
Evolve representatives Angela Lee, Alex Silva, Ben Askren, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and Shinya Aoki have all been crowned ONE World Champions, while Team lakay’s Honorio Banario, Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon have tasted similar success.
Although athletes from the two camps have been part of ONE since its first show in 2011, they have only crossed paths in the cage a total of six times, and the Filipinos are leading the series 4-2.
Perhaps the most notable contest between Asia’s two powerhouses took place in November 2016, when Folayang upset Aoki to claim the ONE Lightweight World Title.
Respect is shared between the athletes and coaches of the two training centers, but that will not stop them from doing everything to outdo their friendly rivals in Shanghai, and claim the unofficial title of Asia’s best gym.
As we approach ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in Shanghai, China, on 8 September, there are two blockbuster Evolve versus Team Lakay match-ups to look forward to.
A Battle Between Top Lightweight Contenders
Both men are proven knockout artists with a penchant for finishing their opponents.
The Filipino has a 76 percent finishing rate, and his emphatic knockout of Jaroslav Jartim will go down as one of the best in the promotion’s history.
Meanwhile, Khan, who also finished the Czech striker, has an even more impressive finishing rate of 90 percent. He is also ONE’s reigning knockout king with eight to his credit – the most in ONE Championship history.
Each athlete also has some qualities that do not show up on the stat sheet.
Banario’s name will go down in history as the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Champion, but his victories in the past two years arguably eclipse that accomplishment. The way in which the 28-year-old turned a devastating five-bout skid into five straight victories is a testament to his resilience and never-quit character.
At 23, Khan has experienced a prodigious start to his mixed martial arts career. He is already a ONE record holder, and he has won seven of his last eight contests – including his most recent TKO victory over Sung Jong Lee.
Both competitors know their run of form has impressed the matchmakers, but they also know a dominant victory in Shanghai would elevate their status closer to their ultimate goal – the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
An Explosive Featherweight Showdown
Singapore’s Christian “The Warrior” Lee (9-2) and the Philippines’ Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly (10-5) square off in the night’s other Evolve versus Team Lakay bout. The featherweight tilt is one of the most anticipated contests on the card, given the explosive nature of both men.
It is an example of the old guard meeting the new school of mixed martial arts, as the 34-year-old Kelly looks to utilize his experience against his 20-year-old foe.
The Baguio City man has a 90 percent finishing rate. That includes some of the most memorable knockouts in recent memory, such as his 21-second head-kick stunner of Meas Meul, and the double-hook combo that felled Vincent Latoel.
Lee goes one better, having earned all of his victories inside the distance. This includes five knockouts and four submissions.
Both athletes are eager to crash the ONE Featherweight World Title picture, and as history has shown, they are fully capable of finishing opponents in an instant.
Their showdown isn’t just a pivotal bout in the Evolve-Team Lakay friendly rivalry – it would also significantly impact their standing in a stacked featherweight division, so get ready for non-stop action from the opening bell.
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast