It has been a very incredible year in ONE Championship, and ONE: DAWN OF HEROES this Friday, 2 August is going to make it even more spectacular.
Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen defends his ONE Featherweight World Championship against a highly-skilled opponent in Koyomi Matsushima in the main event, but there are two World Grand Prix bouts that have the ability to unleash some of the best martial arts action in Manila, Philippines.
First, we have a clash between two heroes in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal. One of the best American martial artists on the face of the planet, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, takes on a warrior who has one of the biggest hearts in the sport, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
Alvarez can do everything. I think his strengths are how well-rounded he is and his ability to adapt in a match. I’ve seen him get hurt and come back, so I know he can take damage and keep going. He’s very durable, and he’s got a powerful right hand. Simply put, he is one of the best to ever do it.
Folayang, on the other hand, is such an incredible and exciting athlete to watch. The former ONE Lightweight World Champion is just on a different level. Martial arts has given him a whole new life, and you can see it in his eyes.
Both athletes are coming off losses, but just like any great tale, there is always a hurdle or an obstacle to overcome. I think anytime you have a loss, you have to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate where your errors were.
The best can accept defeat and use it to make themselves better, and I consider Alvarez and Folayang among the very best mixed martial artists out there.
For Alvarez, it’s two losses in a row. It’s the first time he has suffered like this, and we have never seen him in this kind of situation before.
I believe the longer this bout goes, Alvarez’s chance of being more successful will prevail. Historically, he has always been a slow starter. He picks up a ton of momentum as the match gets deeper, and it’s very similar to when I competed. Sometimes, I would start very slow, and when I would get hit, I would battle much harder. When I get hurt, I will come alive.
Alvarez does not run away either. The more damage he absorbs, the stronger he gets. If it goes to the second round, both of them will continue to raise each other’s skill set and ability. In short, the longer it goes, the more equally matched they become.
Folayang’s best chance to finish Alvarez will be in the first round. If he can come out with a very fast pace and land a good knee, he can put Alvarez away.
I don’t necessarily think we will see a third-round finish, and should it go to the judges’ scorecards, it’s going to be a very difficult decision.
Wada is a DEEP Flyweight World Champion, so he is not an up-and-comer. I think that is his greatest vantage point — it’s not an advantage over Johnson, but I see him on an equal level with “Mighty Mouse.” He has seen a lot, and he has competed against a lot of athletes who have very different styles.
The Japanese star has proven he can not only close the distance and take a person to the ground – which is what he usually likes to do – but he can also be very adaptive. There is no hesitation in what he does, so if he sees an opening, he has the ability to finish anybody.
In my opinion, pound-for-pound, Johnson is the best athlete in mixed martial arts history. He is incredibly fast, and that is one of his biggest attributes. He is skilled in every single department too, making him always one step ahead of his opponent.
Johnson defines the word creativity in martial arts — he executes moves and techniques in a way most people can’t even comprehend, and he knows no limits. His style of finishing opponents is so jaw-dropping, I’m sure the majority of his competition never saw it coming.
But Johnson has to be aware of Wada, a martial artist who can be more patient in his bouts. He never hesitates and is very crafty with his finishes. When you pair him up against an opponent of a similar attribute, it’s going to be amazing to watch.
I cannot predict how this match is going to go, but I can imagine it is going to be very fast and explosive. I am supremely confident these two athletes will bring out the best version of each other.
If I were to make a direct comparison, I’d say they are the masters of their very own game of chess. They are both phenomenal strategists, and they are so good at tricking opponents into their demise. Both of them have a tremendous skill set to play off the other, so it’s going to be a beautiful, full-rounded display of martial arts.
You never know for sure what is going to happen in the Circle, but one thing is guaranteed — these two will produce fireworks in the Mall Of Asia Arena.
Miesha Tate is the Vice President of ONE Championship. She is also a multi-time mixed martial arts World Champion, as well as a women’s mixed martial arts pioneer. Check back weekly for a new installment of “From The Mind Of Miesha Tate.”