ONE Championship heads to Tokyo on Sunday, 31 March for ONE: A NEW ERA as the world’s largest martial arts organization brings a super-stacked card to Japan for the first time ever.
The event will see a glittering array of stars showcase their world-class skills on an unforgettable night at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.
With such a stellar lineup of bouts, there has never been an event with such big-time ramifications for the athletes, and the overall landscape of the global stage for martial arts’ talent-rich weight classes.
Here is what is at stake at ONE: A NEW ERA.
World Title Redemption For Three
Three of the four World Championship bouts in Tokyo are rematches that give a trio of athletes the chance to make amends on 31 March.
Japanese star and grappling legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki will bid to recapture the ONE Lightweight World Title by defeating the man who beat him to take the belt in 2016 – Filipino superstar Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
Nearly two and a half years on from their first encounter, these rivals from Japan and the Philippines, respectively, will face off again in the main event in Tokyo.
This time, their roles will be reversed as Aoki challenges Folayang, who will make the first defense of his second reign with the belt after he recaptured the gold in November.
Hasegawa pushed Aung La N Sang to the limit in that first meeting, but eventually fell to a fifth-round knockout.
Now, the Japanese warrior is ready to face the two-division World Champion again, and he believes he can dethrone the Myanmar hero in the rematch.
Fernandes defended the World Title via first-round kimura submission when they first met in January 2016, but lost the belt to “The Silencer” via split decision last November.
Now, with each man holding one World Title victory over the other, the pair will meet for the third and final time in a historic rubber match on 31 March.
Lee Aims To Double Her World Title Haul
The other World Title bout of the evening sees ONE Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee step up a weight class to challenge “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan for her ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship.
The bout is the biggest female mixed martial arts match-up ever to be held on Asian soil, as the Singaporean superstar bids to make history by becoming the first two-division women’s World Champion in The Home Of Martial Arts.
On the flip side, China’s defending World Champion Xiong can claim the mantle as the most dominant female athlete in the world’s largest martial arts organization by handing Lee the first defeat of her mixed martial arts career.
With both athletes showing a propensity to compete at a breakneck pace throughout all five rounds, this bout looks set to deliver dramatic action aplenty.
Flyweight World Grand Prix Progression
Three out of the four ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarter-finals will take place on 31 March, featuring six world-class competitors.
By the end of the night, we will also know the makeup of the first semi-final bout, as the winners of the two latter contests will be matched up later this year.
The Last Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final Spot
The ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix has delivered some exceptional action already, with American wrestler Lowen Tynanes, Costa Rican grappler Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton and Turkey’s Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev all punching their tickets to the semi-final stages.
The one remaining semi-final spot will be decided in Tokyo on 31 March when Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin welcomes four-time lightweight World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez to the ONE arena.
Alvarez arrives with a big reputation as one of the most decorated athletes in mixed martial arts, but he will face a stern test of his credentials – and potentially his chin – against the Russian powerhouse, who has 10 of his 12 wins through first-round finishes.
Whoever wins will go on to face Tynanes in the coming months for a place in the tournament final.
Japanese Heroes’ National Pride
ONE: A NEW ERA gives a host of Japanese martial arts stars the first chance to perform in The Home Of Martial Arts on home soil.
World Title challengers Hasegawa and Aoki will have home advantage to help power them to glory, while Wakamatsu will rely on the support of his countrymen to inspire him to achieve a massive upset.
As well as these heroes, Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi is fired up to put on a signature performance in front of her compatriots against Kseniya “The Tigress” Lachkova, as she hunts for another shot at the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title.