ONE Championship returned to the Philippine capital for the first time in 2020 with an exciting card featuring the biggest international superstars and the host nation’s most beloved athletes on Friday, 31 January.
The promotion’s most recent spectacle ONE: FIRE & FURY offered up plenty for the fans inside the Mall Of Asia Arena to get excited about, but there were also some changing-of-the-guard moments, as new contenders emerged at the expense of veteran favorites.
Every win and loss only tells part of a story, but it is the victors who get to move closer to the gold in their respective divisions. With that in mind, here are five potential opponents for the night’s biggest winners from our show in Manila, Philippines.
The surging Dutchman, who now finds himself on an eight-bout win streak, is breaking into the World Title picture. However, he likely needs to take out one more top contender before getting a shot at the gold.
Arslanaliev blasted his way to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final with his knockout power, and he would pose a serious challenge to Buist’s rangy kickboxing repertoire.
The battle of reach against power would be an intriguing one, and the winner could move to the front of the queue for a crack at Lee’s crown.
Perhaps now, he can finally go head-to-head with the man he was originally supposed to meet in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinals – former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov.
“The Kazakh” has back-to-back wins to his credit and, although injury has kept him on the sidelines, he will continue to compete in the upper echelon of the division when he returns.
Kingad has already defeated most of the other elite flyweights, and he would strengthen his case for a shot at the winner of the upcoming Adriano Moraes-Demetrious Johnson tilt if he could hand Akhmetov his third career loss.
In another sublime performance, Shoko Sato submitted hard-hitting South Korean “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il via rear-naked choke in the first round. As a result, he moved to 3-0 in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
The Japanese ace has finished his last six opponents in mixed martial arts competition, and he would ask some serious questions of the reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion, Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes.
Sato, the Shooto Bantamweight World Champion, has the striking and grappling skills to hang with the Brazilian, and his finishing ability shows that he could be the man to knock the dominant king off his throne.
Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada dominated the previously-undefeated Ivanildo “Monstrinho” Delfino to pick up his third ONE victory in the Philippine capital, and the Japanese athlete wants to prove he belongs with the division’s elite.
Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio would be the perfect foil. Both men have faced tough opposition, but each warrior needs to string together some consistent victories to move upwards.
Wada’s tricky movement and aggressive ground game are not easy to decipher, but the Team Lakay product is a seasoned veteran who may have the experience to disrupt his rhythm.
Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta is a similarly imposing unit, who has the power to match Adiwang on the feet and the wrestling to take things to the canvas when he feels necessary.
Most would be outmuscled by Adiwang, but not Saruta. This battle would be an “unstoppable force versus immovable object” type of match-up, with the division’s top contender spot potentially at stake.