For the first time ever, the world’s best martial artists will step into the ONE Championship ring this Friday, 20 April, at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR. The Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines will once again play host to a night full of adrenaline-pumping action.
In addition to the traditional mixed martial arts contests ONE fans have grown accustomed to seeing, the event will also hold the highly-anticipated debut of ONE Super Series, which aims to showcase the skills of the greatest strikers in the world.
As with every event, there are several major storylines leading into each match, with much at stake. Here is what’s on the line for the blockbuster event’s biggest stars.
Riding a four-bout win streak, Team Lakay’s fearsome knockout artist Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is as close as he has ever been to securing a rematch with ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes. In fact, he could have just waited for a world title shot, as revealed by ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong at the event press conference.
However, instead of waiting for the bantamweight king to recover from injury, he elected to stay active, and risks his date with destiny by taking on a world-class wrestler and BJJ black belt inAndrew Leone in the night’s main event.
The Bali-based American in the main event will be no easy task. Leone will be looking to ruin the Filipino’s parade, and would love nothing more than to hijack Belingon’s world title shot with an emphatic victory. A former world title challenger himself, Leone fell to Fernandes last August, but remains a big name in the division.
Unsurprisingly, the world title implications of this bout are huge, and Belingon considers Leone to be his toughest test to date, aside from his previous encounter with Fernandes.
Giorgio Petrosyan And Jo Nattawut
In the night’s co-main event, two-time K-1 World Max World Champion Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan will clash with two-division Lion Fight World Champion “Smokin’” Jo Nattawut in a Super Series kickboxing bout.
Petrosyan is at the absolute top of his class when it comes to the world of kickboxing. The Milan, Italy-based athlete lives up to his moniker, as he is known for the surgical precision behind his strikes, and his supreme technical skills. After all, It is what put him on a six-year, 42-bout win streak.
Nattawut, however, is a star in his own right. The Thai is known for being technical and aggressive, and is willing to take a contest on a moment’s notice. Because of that, he has capitalized on many opportunities afforded to him, and has emerged as one of the best Muay Thai athletes in the world.
One thing’s for sure, with both being multiple-time world champions, there are sure to be fireworks, and world-class striking displays of the highest order.
In January, following his victory over Bruno Pucci, Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia stated that he was ready to take on the promotion’s best featherweights, and promised to take the division by storm.
While he has had an incredible run since joining ONE Championship in August 2017, Urrutia now gets exactly what he wanted in the form of former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov.
It has been nearly eight months since Gafurov suffered the first loss of his career, losing his title to Martin Nguyen via second-round knockout, and he finally makes his long awaited returned to mixed martial arts competition this Friday.
There is a lot at stake for both competitors.
For Urrutia, a win over the Dagestani would prove that he is a legitimate contender to the featherweight throne, especially if he hands the former champ his second professional loss. As for Gafurov, beating Urrutia would convince everyone that he is still the rightful number one contender for the world championship, and deserves a shot at reclaiming his belt.
Aside from Petrosyan, another striking legend is set to grace the ONE ring, as multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is ready to make his promotional debut.
Following his legendary Muay Thai career, Gaiyanghadao moved to Singapore to become an instructor at the world-renowned Evolve MMA. The announcement of the ONE Super Series, however, gave Gaiyanghadao a new avenue to showcase his skills, and the Thai is already excited to perform in front of the largest audience he has ever had.
Gaiyanghadao is matched against a fellow Muay Thai World Champion in Fabio Pinca in a Super Series Muay Thai bout. The Frenchman is gunning for his 100th victory, and it would be quite a memory if he could accomplish that against the Thai legend.
Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario has authored an inspiring career resurgence as of late, winning his last four bouts in spectacular fashion.
However, to prove his reemergence at the top of ONE’s stacked lightweight division is not a fluke, the Filipino warrior will have to face battle-tested veteran Adrian “The Hunter” Pang.
Pang is, of course, one of the toughest men to ever step foot inside the ONE cage. Although “The Hunter” has had a tough run of luck, he remains as dangerous as ever with his unbridled punching power, granite chin, and immense grappling ability.
This is a true test to see exactly where Banario stands. While “The Rock” has defeated quality opposition, and finished his last two adversaries, he would undoubtedly establish himself in the upper echelons of the division if he get past the hard-hitting Aussie.