Just days before ONE Championship returns to the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines for ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR, some of the top martial artists on the bill went face-to-face at the official pre-event press conference on Wednesday.
Off-the-charts intensity at the face-offs for ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR! ????Manila | 12 April | 6:00PM | Watch on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor19
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, April 9, 2019
In the main event, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen will make his long-awaited return to action as he puts his ONE Featherweight World Title on the line against former World Champion Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa.
“I’m truly honored and humbled to be going up against a legend like Jadambaa,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen has been out of action since last July as he recovered from injuries, but to prepare for this match, the Vietnamese-Australian opted for a change of scenery in his training camp to add some new dimensions to his skill set.
“Training out of Florida at Hard Knocks 365 has been a blessing – surrounded by World Champions all across different organizations,” he added.
“Having lived and trained with Aung La N Sang – his positive vibe rubs off on you, so anywhere you go with him or if you eat with him and his family, everything has been positive. There are no negatives throughout the whole training room. Everyone’s there to help each other.
“I trained with the best coaches. You’ve got Henri Hooft, Greg Jones, Kami Barzini, all these World Champion coaches coming together and putting all of their time into you. I’d like to say they sharpened up what I have and hopefully, on Friday night everything comes out in round one, round two max.”
As for Jadambaa, the 43-year old former ONE Featherweight World Champion has anxiously awaited this opportunity to get another shot to reclaim the belt.
He recognized this will be a tough battle, but he is determined to draw on all the skills he has learned through decades as a martial artist to get the job done.
“It’s an absolute honor for me to be in Friday’s match against Martin Nguyen,” Jadambaa said.
“On Friday, I will bring more courage and more resilience built on my previous experiences. Age doesn’t matter today, and I speak from experience.
“I will share the best of every martial art there is.”
In the co-main event, more gold is up for grabs as ONE Strawweight World Champion Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta faces the man he beat to win the belt as the Philippines’ own Joshua “The Passion” Pacio aims for redemption.
Saruta may be stepping into the lion’s den this time around, but he sounded confident that he will leave with the gold around his waist.
“We got to review the [first] fight, and learn some techniques and I will be trying my best to finish,” Saruta says.
“This coming Friday you can see the strength of a ninja here in the Philippines. Everybody is invited to come over so please come and be excited.”
For his part, Pacio knows the mistakes he made in his first meeting with Saruta that led to his split-decision defeat, and he promises that will not happen again.
“The last bout with him, I learned a lot of lessons. There was a lot of hesitation and a lot of backing up, but I learned a lot,” he added.
“This 12 April, I am very inspired and motivated to show a better version of myself. I’m very excited again to compete here in front of my hometown. There’s a big country behind me.”
Kelly always relishes the opportunity to prove the Philippines produces some of the best mixed martial artists on the planet.
“Filipino fighters are world-class martial artists,” he said.
His opponent was admittedly nervous facing the crowd from Kelly’s hometown, but Lee hopes to turn the crowd to his side with a jaw-dropping performance on Friday.
“I am very honored to fight someone from what they call the best team in the Philippines and one of the great fighters there, Edward Kelly,” Lee explained.
“I’m so honored, and I hope to give you guys a good show on Friday night.”
In the featured prelim on the card, Eric “The Natural” Kelly will attempt to bring the Manila crowd to its feet with a performance that brings back memories of his glory years.
At 36, Kelly is one of the most beloved mixed martial arts veterans in the Philippines, and he still plans on showcasing the best of himself when he faces “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il.
“There’s a new generation of fighters. I am part of the old generation, but I am trying now to compete with the new generation,” Kelly says.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to fight, and I’m thankful for my opponent for accepting the fight on short notice.”
While he will undoubtedly have the Mall of Asia Arena on his side, Kelly still faces a very confident opponent in Kwon, who felt right at home with the Filipino crowd.
“I stayed in the Philippines for one and a half months so far, and I consider Manila my second hometown,” Kwon said.
“I met so many people here, and they were so good to me, and I always had a dream of fighting in Manila. That chance finally came. Since this is like my second hometown, I will show you guys a good fight.”