The Filipino, who is riding a seven-bout winning streak, started to make a name for himself in October 2018 as a competitor on Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. After three straight victories, he joined ONE Championship’s main roster a year later, where he has since taken the #5 contender spot in the ultra-stacked strawweight division.
But even with all that momentum, the Team Lakay star suddenly found himself on the sidelines for an extended period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s kind of weird because it’s been a while since I last competed,” the 27-year-old Benguet native says. “I’ve been very busy the past few years, but the pandemic has halted all plans and kept us all on the shelf.”
Still, the burgeoning talent found positives amid the difficult situation.
“The good thing is this only made me hungrier,” he adds. “I may have not been as active as I wanted to be, but I’ve been doing what I can to stay in shape because that’s my job as an athlete.”
Fortunately, Adiwang is set to make his long-awaited return to the Circle. He’ll square off against Hiroba Minowa in the curtain-raiser of ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III, a previously recorded event from Singapore that airs this Friday, 13 November.
A win for “Thunder Kid” would further boost his ascent in ONE’s strawweight division, where he’s already gone 2-0 with emphatic first-round stoppages of Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit and Pancrase Flyweight Champion Senzo Ikeda.
The Filipino will be facing another tough opponent in Minowa, who’s debuting in The Home Of Martial Arts but is no stranger to high-level competition.
Minowa, who is only 21 years old, is a Shooto Champion who owns an identical 11-2 professional record and enters the contest with a 100 percent finishing rate.
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The Saitama native comes from the Japanese promotion’s loaded strawweight division, which has already produced a pair of ONE Strawweight World Champions in Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito and Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta.
With that in mind, Adiwang certainly won’t be looking past the 21-year-old dynamo.
“There are only a few videos of him that I can use to scout him, but based on what I’ve seen, he’s a young and hungry fighter who always fights like he has something to prove. It’s something I expect from him given it’s his first match with ONE,” the Filipino says of Minowa.
“Another thing I’ve noticed is how good his ground game is. He thrives on the ground, so I have to watch out for that.”
One factor working in Adiwang’s favor is that his Team Lakay stablemate, Jared Almazan, fought Minowa in May 2019. While the Filipino lost to the Japanese athlete via submission in the third round, he passed on valuable lessons to “Thunder Kid.”
“He faced my teammate, so I know that he’s no pushover,” Adiwang says.
“The nice thing about it is we’re already familiar with him. At the very least, that’s one advantage we have – we’ve already prepared for him before.”
When it comes to Friday’s fight, Adiwang does not want to make any guarantees or share any details about his game plan. He just hopes to surprise and entertain everyone who tunes in.
“I expect a good show for the fans,” he says, “especially if I can deliver what I plan to do.”