ONE Championship visited Manila, Philippines, for the final time in 2019 on Friday, 8 November, where the Mall Of Asia Arena ONE: MASTERS OF FATE hosted some of the promotion’s brightest stars.
Half of them earned important victories that will allow them to take a step up the ladder in The Home Of Martial Arts toward their dreams of a World Championship.
With the right match-ups, they could get closer to their goal in the new year, and these are some exciting battles for five of the night’s successful combatants that could propel them forward in 2020.
Eduard “Landslide” Folayang may not have won in the manner he would have wanted, but he still looked impressive in his technical decision victory over Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhuu.
It put the Filipino hero back on the winning track and kept him in the World Championship picture. However, he will have to pick up another win against a world-class opponent to move toward top contention for the belt.
As a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinalist, Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton’s stock was rising, but injury forced him out of the tournament. When both men are fully healed, he could be the perfect foil for Folayang.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is an elite finisher on the ground, but he is also a game striker, and he would love to test his skills against a big name and try to get a marquee win to get back on track.
Sangmanee Sathian MuayThai
The anticipated debut of Muay Thai star “The Million Dollar Baby” Sangmanee Sathian MuayThai did not disappoint, as he emerged victorious after an exciting three-round tussle with Azize “The Magician” Hlali.
The Rajadamnern and Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion will be eyeing more gold on the global stage, and he got off to a good start. Still, as a promotional newcomer, he will need to take some scalps to separate himself from the pack in a talent-rich division.
Hard-hitting Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym could be the perfect test. He has back-to-back wins in ONE, and has shown that his powerful punching is enough to worry any of his peers.
Sangmanee’s tactical brilliance against Rodlek’s aggression would make for a thrilling tilt in “the art of eight limbs,” and it would thrust the winner into the World Title hunt.
Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio scored a memorable spinning back kick knockout over Toni “Dynamite” Tauru, but his division is teeming with talent, so he will need to build a winning streak against some big names to get ahead.
One of the names at the top of the list must be Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada – a Deep Flyweight World Champion who has shown exemplary all-around mixed martial arts skills in his five bouts so far in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
The Japanese athlete has the range to give Eustaquio some problems on the feet, and he possesses the kind of grappling game that gave Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson one of the toughest bouts of his career earlier this year.
If “Gravity” can pass that test, he will be in the running for a chance to reclaim the belt he held until January.
Stamp Fairtex added to her perfect slate in Manila by overcoming her toughest mixed martial arts test yet and defeating Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen.
Her dream to become a three-sport ONE World Champion looks increasingly realistic, and the next step up the ladder could be Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol.
“Thathie” is the atomweight division’s most prolific campaigner, has the most wins, and would offer another well-rounded threat to the Thai striker.
Stamp would do well to prove she can hang with an opponent with a dangerous ground game before she can challenge “Unstoppable” Angela Lee for the gold, and a win against the Indonesian star could prove that.
Li Kai Wen
“The Underdog” Li Kai Wen returned to the ring in his bantamweight debut against Paul “The Great King” Lumihi, and dispatched the Indonesian with a massive first-round KO.
The Chinese athlete’s featherweight résumé, combined with the perfect start in his new division, means he is an immediate threat to the gold.
He deserves to face another contender, and if fans could pick a dream opponent for Li, it would likely be John “Hands Of Stone” Lineker. The Brazilian would present a big step up in competition, but “The Underdog” will back himself against anyone, and this pairing would make for an absolute war.
Both men are undoubtedly two of the most feared punchers on the global stage, and they love to throw hands with reckless abandon. Whoever stays standing would jump to the top of the queue to face Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes’ for his belt.