Hot on the heels of their first event of 2018, ONE Championship will head to Manila, Philippines next, as the Mall Of Asia Arena plays host to ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES on Friday, 26 January.
The show is scheduled to feature the finest local talent, an assortment of international superstars, a Muay Thai bout between two of the sport’s best athletes, and a main event to decide the ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion.
A quick look at our heroes’ statistics indicates that the card is full of dynamic martial arts champions who like to finish their opponents, and make history.
Filipino hero Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio is scheduled to take on former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov (24-1) in a rematch of their September meeting from ONE: TOTAL VICTORY, but this time the ONE Interim Flyweight World Title is up for grabs.
Eustaquio, a national wushu champion with a sterling 38-2 record in the discipline, is one of the most experienced athletes on the roster.
He has competed in the ONE cage 11 times, tying him for third on the record books for most bouts in the organization. “Gravity” is also tied for the fourth-most wins in ONE history, having had his hand raised six times in the ONE cage.
Akhmetov is a highly decorated grappler who earned national and asian youth titles in Greco-Roman wrestling, and became a three-time Kazakhstan National Wresting Champion in his adulthood. He also won a provincial taekwondo title, too.
When he joined ONE in November 2015, he defeated then-champion Moraes in his promotional debut for the ONE Flyweight World Title. That brought his record to a stellar 24-0, which was the best record of any flyweight in the world at the time.
Now, “The Kazakh” still has a hugely impressive record of 24 wins and just one loss, including a 86 percent finishing rate. This includes an incredible 13 submission victories, five TKOs, and 17 first-round finishes overall.
The co-main event features another hometown hero, and former ONE Strawweight World Title challenger, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (10-2).
Pacio, a TLC Grand Prix Champion, has an impressive 90 percent finishing rate, including five first-round stoppage victories. A Philippines national wushu champion, “The Passion” has a well-rounded game, with four victories by KO and five wins by submission.
He takes on multi-time China Sanda Champion Lan Ming Qiang, who will be making his promotional debut. And with a sanda record of 16-2, the Chinese kickboxer will be looking to gatecrash the strawweight world title picture with a high-profile win against the local favorite.
Submission specialists are set to collide on the main card, as Filipino featherweight champion and SEA wushu gold medallist Eric “The Natural” Kelly (12-4) takes on Premium FC Lightweight Champion Rafael “Indio” Nunes (10-1).
Kelly, who challenged for the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Title, has an impressive 83 percent finishing rate, including nine submissions.
Nunes’ finish rate, however, is even more impressive, averaging nine stoppages out of 10 wins. “Indio,” a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, has four knockouts and five submissions on his record, including five first-round stoppages.
For the first time in their careers, Kelly’s younger brother, Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly (9-4), will compete on the same card.
Edward has the most bouts in ONE featherweight history at eight, and boasts a stellar 89 percent finishing rate, with four KOs and four submissions to his name.
He will be lined up against promotional debutant Meas Meul (6-0), an undefeated athlete who has five wins coming inside the distance.
The Cambodian has shown himself to be dangerous early, too, with three of his six career wins occurring in the first round.
The Rest Of The Card
Bulgaria’s Sotir “The Trouble” Kichukov (13-6) will look to improve upon his 77 percent finishing rate when he steps back into the ONE cage to face Chinese National Freestyle Wrestling Champion, “The Southern Eagle” Ma Hao Bin (9-1), in a three-round flyweight affair.
Kichukov has eight submissions — all in the first round — on his record, He takes on ONE Changsha Bantamweight Tournament Champion Ma, who is undefeated in the promotion, and owns the longest active win streak in the ONE flyweight division at seven.
The Chinese star also boasts the third-most submissions in ONE history at four, and the third-fastest submission in ONE history at 27 seconds. The latter also happens to be the fastest submission in the ONE bantamweight division.
Also on the card is a pivotal bout in the ONE strawweight division, as former world title challenger and Shooto South American Strawweight Champion Yago Bryan faces off against top Japanese contender and Grachan Flyweight Champion Hayato Suzuki (17-1-2).
Bryan has a perfect 9-0 Muay Thai record, while Suzuki owns six first-round finishes and seven wins via rear-naked choke to his credit.
Two-time BJJ No-Gi World Champion Pucci has a perfect finishing rate, with one TKO and four rear-naked chokes to his name.
As for Singapore Fighting Championship Bantamweight Champion Urrutia, the American is riding a three-bout win streak, with four of his career submissions coming in the very first round.