ONE Championship made history this past weekend. Last Saturday, 24 March, the promotion rocked the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand with its latest martial arts spectacle ONE: IRON WILL.
The card was headlined by the biggest contest in the company’s history, as ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes defended the belt against two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen.
Needless to say, the main event, and the entire card itself, did not disappoint. In fact, fans were kept on the edge of their seats the entire night. But, as with every event, the winners continue to move forward.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what could be next for the heroes who exhibited their iron will.
ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes had a terrific performance on Saturday.
The Brazilian valiantly retained his coveted title against two-division ONE World Champion Martin Nguyen in the night’s main event, ultimately capturing a split decision verdict. He pulled away in the final round, doing just enough to sway the decision in his favor.
Now that the biggest bout in ONE history is finally in the books, it is time for Fernandes to move on, and continue his dominant run as bantamweight king. He appears to be looking to defend his world title for as long as he can, and that means taking on whoever is worthy of challenging for the belt.
The Philippines’ Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is on a four-bout tear at the moment, and if he can beat Bali-based American Andrew Leone at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR in Manila on 20 April, he could finally earn his long sought-after rematch with “The Flash.”
Another challenger waiting in the wings is Evolve MMA’s Leandro “Brodinho” Issa, who returned to the promotion last August. He claimed a pair of victories since then, scoring a TKO over Toni Tauru, and then earning a unanimous decision over Dae Hwan Kim three months later. That would certainly be an epic battle of BJJ world champions.
Filipino strawweight Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado said he wanted to test his striking against Muay Thai legend and former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and he did just that.
Miado authored the most impressive victory of his career, stopping the Thai in the first round with a right hook on the button. Miado showed no fear standing toe-to-toe with a three-time Muay Thai world champion, and became the first man to ever knock out Amnuaysirichoke, shocking the Thai audience in attendance.
After having trouble adapting to ONE’s revolutionary weigh-in system that bans weight cutting by dehyrdation, “The Jaguar” repositioned himself among the top competitors in the division, and has a couple of opponents available to him.
Fellow countryman and former strawweight world title challenger Roy “The Dominator” Doliguez would give Miado another solid test. Doliguez is a former professional boxer who is both durable and determined.
Also, there is Brazil’s Yago Bryan. Like the aforementioned Doliguez, Bryan is a former strawweight world title challenger who provides an enticing stylistic match-up for Miado, as both athletes would surely set off fireworks with their top-notch striking.
Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai is making a habit of ending matches early. Behind a thunderous right hook, the Thai lightweight needed only 21 seconds to send Indian adversary Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju crashing to the canvas for an abrupt end.
Wiratchai certainly needed a statement-making win under his belt since dropping a unanimous decision to Rasul Yakhyaev last December. “OneShin” is emerging as the country’s next big martial arts superstar, and now he looks to reascend up the lightweight ranks.
Three names immediately stand out. The first of which is former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang. The Filipino is looking for a dance partner in his highly-anticipated return to action later this year, and Wiratchai could be the perfect man for the job. Both athletes are committed to their striking prowess, but are also well-versed in all areas of the game.
There is also Ev “E.T.” Ting, who is looking for a lightweight world title rematch. The Malaysian is searching for another big win, and a match-up with “OneShin” would provide him with a thrilling showdown with one of the division’s best strikers.
Lastly, Timofey Nastyukhin would provide a formidable challenge. The Russian knockout artist has proven to be capable of handling multiple styles, and a match-up with the Thai would promise to be one of the most explosive on any ONE card.
Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev
Turkish offensive dynamo Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev is back after over a year and a half away from competition. “Dagi,” as he is called, returned to action last Saturday, and submitted Japanese veteran Tetsuya Yamada with an armbar late in the third round.
Yamada has a tendency to make life very difficult for his opponents with his crafty grappling technique, but Arslanaliev appeared to be a man on a mission, and completely outworked Yamada from start to finish.
The Turk is in prime position to take a step up in competition after taking out a veteran Japanese champino, and two big names could help him get right on a clear path towards the lightweight world title.
Singaporean knockout artist Amir Khan aims to redeem himself after dropping a unanimous decision to Timofey Nastyukhin in February. Arslanaliev is talented enough to take on a veteran of Khan’s caliber, and the two 23-year-olds would definitely produce fireworks if they locked horns inside the ONE cage.
On the other hand, Japanese veteran Koji Ando could also give Arslanaliev another big test. Ando is a capable wrestler and fearsome judoka who knows just how to diffuse hard punchers like “Dagi.”
The BJJ no-gi world champion was expected to put his sublime grappling skills on full display. Instead, he actively decided against it, noticeably passing on various submission opportunities. The American wanted to prove to everyone that he is not one-dimensional, and did so by stopping Filipino striker Richard Corminal in the second round via TKO.
There are a couple of good challenges for Tonon moving forward. One of them is Filipino lightweight veteran Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre. He is Pan Asian BJJ Champion, comes from a boxing background, and is always looking to engage. Donayre would be a good test for the emerging striker that is “The Lion Killer.”
Another fun bout would be with the Czech Republic’s Jaroslav Jartim. Coming from a predominantly striking background, he would definitely be a good test for Tonon’s stand-up abilities.