This past Friday, 2 August, ONE Championship provided Filipino fans with the biggest martial arts event in their nation’s history.
The 14-bout card for ONE: DAWN OF HEROES thrilled the local crowd inside the Mall Of Asia Arena, and plenty of superstars turned in exciting performances and took a huge leap forward in their respective careers.
Before we close the book on another memorable night in Manila, we take a quick look into the crystal ball to see what could be next for the night’s biggest winners.
ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen produced a performance full of calmness and composure in the main event of the night. He fended off the wrestling attack of Koyomi Matsushima, and then he unloaded his striking arsenal to finish his rival in the second round.
After the bout, he hinted at his next move. “Hands up if you want to see a trilogy,” he said in the center of the ring.
That trilogy would see “The Situ-Asian” meet his old rival — and current ONE Lightweight World Champion — Christian “The Warrior” Lee. The match-up is sure to set the pulses racing, but the big question would be over which weight class the bout gets contested in.
If it takes place at featherweight, then it is a chance for Lee to match Nguyen’s achievement and become a two-division ONE World Champion. However, if “The Situ-Asian” returns to lightweight to challenge the Singaporean for his belt, then the Vietnamese-Australian has an opportunity to reclaim his “champ-champ” status.
Whichever way it is booked, a trilogy bout would deliver plenty of excitement, as one man will have the potential to leave the Circle with a pair of World Titles.
In his second promotional appearance, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez looked to prove a point in his clash with ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang. He wanted to erase the stain from his ONE debut nearly four months ago.
The American accomplished that in his thrilling come-from-behind victory, as he submitted the Filipino icon to earn a spot in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix final, where he already knows his next opponent.
The Turkish juggernaut has been arguably the most impressive lightweight performer in The Home Of Martial Arts for the last 12 months, as he has ripped through the competition seemingly with ease.
If “The Underground King” can be the man to halt Arslanaliev’s meteoric rise to the top, then he will claim the World Grand Prix Title, set himself up for a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship, and possibly achieve immortality as the first athlete to win World Titles from the three biggest martial arts organizations on the planet.
Two of the world’s most popular flyweight stars booked their respective places in the final of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix with wins at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson outpointed Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada in a tactical affair via unanimous decision, while Danny “The King” Kingad edged out Reece “Lightning” McLaren in an all-action battle via split decision.
Now, the pair will collide in the tournament finale at ONE: CENTURY.
Johnson has a career’s worth of experience in big-time matches, while the Team Lakay prodigy is still looking to fully establish himself as the premier flyweight athlete in ONE.
Victory over “Mighty Mouse” would see Kingad’s stock go stratospheric, especially since Johnson is the consensus favorite to claim the World Grand Prix Title.
It brings pressure to both men, albeit in very different ways, and the man who deals best with that pressure may leave the Ryogoku Kokugikan as the tournament champion.
After impressively defeating former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario to claim his second victory in three weeks, it is clear South Korea’s “Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Parkdeserves another step up in competition as he reaches World Title contention.
That means a bout against another martial artist looking to position himself for a run at the belt, and in Malaysian-Kiwi Ev Ting, there could be an ideal opponent sitting and waiting for the call.
Both men have heavy hands and enormous power for the lightweight division. Also, the two well-rounded competitors tend to produce exciting performances on a regular basis.
The winner could find himself within touching distance of a shot at the gold. However, in a stacked division, the pressure will be on both warriors to not only win, but to do so in spectacular fashion.
A match-up with former ONE Bantamweight World Title challenger “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim might just be the ideal next step.
The South Korean’s aggressive style should mesh well with Aiman’s approach and force the Malaysian out of his comfort zone.
Kim is equally happy standing in the pocket or scrambling on the canvas, so “Jungle Cat” would need to showcase his entire mixed martial arts game to be successful.