The main event rivals were joined by some of the other ONE Championship martial arts superstars on the card, which will take place at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia this Friday, 3 May.
Sam-A (366-46-9) will return to action for the first time in almost a year to make his first defense of the World Title he won with a fourth-round knockout of Sergio “Samurai” Wielzen at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
That was his latest success in a long career that has made him a legend of “the art of eight limbs,” and he is aiming for another signature performance in Indonesia.
“It feels good to be back. Winning the World Title is a huge honor for Thailand, and I am proud to represent Muay Thai on the global stage of competition,” he said.
“My opponent is young and hungry, and determined to take my World Title, but I’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout my career.
“I am prepared to defend my belt and bring glory to my country. I am thankful for the opportunity to showcase my skills once more to millions of fans around the world.”
Haggerty (14-1) may lack the experience of his opponent, who is 13 years his senior, but the 22-year-old from England has already tasted World Title gold in his career, and he is confident he can claim the most prestigious prize in martial arts.
“I thank ONE Championship for this amazing opportunity,” he added.
“Fighting for the World Title against a legend like Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is a huge honor. I’ve been watching him since I was a teenager. He’s an absolute warrior, and just a machine. Now I’m fighting him, and it’s brilliant.
“I hope he’s training hard because I’m no pushover. I’m coming for the belt with everything I have. I’m definitely gunning for the stoppage, so don’t blink.”
The headlining heroes shared the stage with athletes from the undercard, including a strong local contingent.
Among them was The Home Of Martial Arts’ most active competitor of 2018 – two-time Wushu World Championship medalist Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol (5-4).
The Jakarta native will aim to get back in the win column in front of her hometown fans when she faces Cambodia’s Nou Srey Pov (1-0) in a strawweight clash.
“I’ve been working hard in the gym, improving on my areas of weakness, at the same time, further solidifying my strengths. I have definitely improved a lot since my last fight,” Lumban Gaol said.
“I can’t wait to show fans my new and improved skills. My opponent is young and strong, and she loves to strike, but this is mixed martial arts, and I’ll take the fight wherever I have the advantage. I can’t wait to go in there and give my best.”
Srey Pov is a Kun Khmer World Champion who made a spectacular debut in ONE with a defeat of Thailand’s Rika Ishige in February, and she is confident of overcoming the odds in hostile territory again this Friday.
“Ever since joining ONE Championship, my life has changed so much. It is such a huge privilege for me competing in the largest martial arts organization in the world,” she said.
“Getting my hand raised in my first mixed martial arts bout, I will always remember that feeling. I want the same thing for my second outing. Priscilla [Hertati Lumban Gaol] is a tremendous fighter. She is very strong, but I’m prepared for everything she brings to the table.”
Honors for the most intense staredown of the afternoon went to Paul “The Great King” Lumihi (8-1) and “The Terminator” Sunoto (10-5), who are expected to ignite the prelims with their all-Indonesian clash.
Despite getting their game faces on, each athlete expressed respect for their opponent and set the table for some exciting action at the Istora Senayan.
“The magnitude of the event and being able to perform in front of my countrymen, it can’t get any better for my ONE Championship debut,” Lumihi said.
“Facing a veteran in Sunoto is a big task, but one that I am prepared for. He has good experience and good skills, but I bring ferociousness to the table. I don’t mind that he is a fellow Indonesian. May the best man win.”
Sunoto has a strong record when he competes at home, and he predicted another signature performance in Jakarta.
“I’ve had a good run through my career, and I feel like I’m really turning a new leaf here. I want to do my best and impress the fans in Jakarta,” he added.
“I feel so honored and lucky that I am able to constantly perform here. My opponent is powerful and dangerous, and I am not taking him lightly. Fans can expect all-out action between us and I hope they leave the arena happy with my performance.”
The high-octane entertainment is expected to begin early on 3 May in a strawweight showdown of strikers.
In 14 combined bouts in ONE, Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis (7-5) and Himanshu Kaushik (5-3) have seen the judges scorecards only once, so the chances of a spectacular finish are high when they meet on the prelims.
“Representing Indonesia is a big privilege for me. I am always thankful to represent my country. Fans who know me, know I bring my very best each time I fight,” said Mattheis.
“No matter if I win or lose, I always give one hundred percent. Himanshu had better be ready because I am looking to end matters early.”
Kaushik is searching for a second consecutive win against Indonesian opposition following an impressive TKO in his last match.
“I had a big victory in my last fight, which did great for my confidence. Now I want to put together a win streak and get a second straight victory against a tough Indonesian local star,” he added.
“I know the crowd will be against me again in this one, but I don’t mind. I’ll go in there and do what I do best.”