The road has been long and tough, but ONE Warrior Series contract winner Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang will finally make his highly-anticipated debut in The Home Of Martial Arts next weekend.
On Sunday, 13 October, the Filipino will square off against Pancrase Flyweight World Champion Senzo Ikeda in a strawweight mixed martial arts bout at ONE: CENTURY PART I, which emanates from the world-famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.
Adiwang has been dreaming about this moment ever since he decided to become a full-time martial artist several years ago, but admittedly, he was surprised to be given the chance to make his first promotional appearance at ONE Championship’s historic 100th event.
“I really wasn’t expecting it,” the 26-year-old says.
“I thought I was going to be called up for a card in November, so when I found out that I will be part of this, all I could think was, ‘Wow.’
“I think it’s a great opportunity, and it comes at the perfect time. I’m really happy to be part of this event, and I’m very excited to put on a show.”
Like many of his Team Lakay stablemates, Adiwang is a wushu practitioner who has added a formidable grappling element to his razor-sharp striking arsenal.
That has helped the Baguio City native compile a marvelous 9-2 professional record, which includes five knockouts and three submission victories. Also, he is riding a five-bout win streak — with the past three victories occurring under the OWS banner.
The 26-year-old is taking an enormous step up in competition, but he is highly confident. In fact, he wants to introduce himself to the global fanbase with the trademark style that captured Rich Franklin’s attention.
“My goal in this match is to really make it impressive. I want to make a statement in my first appearance, so I can guarantee that this will not be a boring fight,” the Filipino offers.
“I hope that my thunder strikes will connect, but rest assured I’ll do my best to put on a show for everyone.”
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In Ikeda, Adiwang will be competing against a well-established veteran who is tough and is also known to put on a show.
The 37-year-old, who rose from obscurity to become one of the top athletes in Japan, is a boxer with a solid grappling background. That led him to the Pancrase Flyweight World Championship in August 2017, and he retained the gold against Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu with a spectacular come-from-behind knockout six months later.
His achievements and talent are not lost on Adiwang, who is diligently training under the watchful eye of Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao.
“I learned that he has a strong boxing game, and he has a unique way of attacking. He combines it with his skill and maximizes his reach, which is a huge advantage for him,” Adiwang explains.
“Size will be a key weapon for him, and I believe he knows how to use it well based on what I’ve seen from him.
“He goes toe-to-toe with his opponent on strikes at first, but I know he will eventually take the match to the ground to use his size advantage. I’m getting myself prepared for that, so I can counter his advantages.”
Also, the “Thunder Kid” has a secret weapon in his training camp.
He has been working closely with his Team Lakay stablemate Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face pound-for-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Final later in the same evening.
Kingad collided with Ikeda in a tournament quarterfinal bout at ONE: A NEW ERA in March — also at the Ryogoku Kokugikan — and it has been heralded as one of the best matches of the year so far.
The pair engaged in three back-and-forth rounds of breathtaking action, but “The King” remained more active and subsequently pulled away with the unanimous decision victory.
Ahead of his grand premiere next weekend, Adiwang picked his teammate’s brain and received some useful advice.
“He told me that I need to overpower him. I need to make him feel the pressure of the fight and assert my will so that I can overpower him,” the debutant says.
“We have to admit that this is the biggest stage I have been on, and the slightest mistakes could lead to a loss. We’re working on improving my focus for the match so that I can follow through with our game plan.”
Staying focused will be crucial for Adiwang, who is dealing with the immense pressure that comes with making his promotional debut at ONE’s biggest event in history and toppling a flyweight great in front of his hometown fans.
It is a daunting challenge for his first ONE appearance, but the Team Lakay representative will try his hardest to bring the thunder and unleash the lightning in Tokyo.
“Honestly, I think there is some pressure that I need to overcome,” he admits.
“The crowd will certainly be behind him, which will be huge because I think the cheers of a crowd really help improve a fighter’s strength and will to win. I know that he’ll be bent on getting a win to rebound from his previous performance.
“I think those are significant factors heading into our bout, but I will do my best not to be affected by it and stick to our game plan and impose my will on him.”
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.