ONE Championship lead commentator and Fox Sports Presenter Steve Dawson takes a look at ONE’s newest heavyweight title challenger.
ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION at The Mall of Asia Arena in Manila will see the welcome return of Heavyweight champion and Filipino hero Brandon Vera this Friday, 2 December. And if you were looking for the champ to be tested by an imposing, spirited, and experienced challenger, look no further than Hideki Sekine.
The unbeaten 7-0 fighter from Hamamatsu, Japan has contested only a third of the number fights that Vera has managed as a professional, despite being the older man.
Having only fought in Japan, the reason he’s been matched so few times is not hard to comprehend. Lining up Japanese fighters with the former cop is a severe challenge, simply because there are not many opponents on offer with a comparable frame.
Sekine’s nicknames, ‘Shrek’ and ‘Big Body’, indicate that his outstanding physical feature is his sheer size and sturdiness. Vera will clearly not be under-matched in terms of bulk, but neither should there be a noticeable gap in skill set.
Aged six, Sekine started training in judo to stave off some bullying he had been a victim of, and continued all the way to university, obtaining a third-degree black belt. After his parents dashed earnest dreams of becoming a professional wrestler, Sekine joined the police force. From there, the large Brazilian population of Hamamatsu eventually had a hand in developing his interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
In time, he gained permission from the police force to compete in mixed martial arts, and although he’s amassed his unbeaten record over seven years, his parents are still unaware of his professional combat exploits.
His wife fully backs the decision to give up law enforcement and concentrate on MMA, but it is hard to see how he’ll keep things quiet from his folks. Especially should he wrest the ONE Championship heavyweight belt from Vera when the two clash over five rounds in front of a passionate Manila crowd, who are sure to help make the title bout a high-profile event.
Although this will be his first fight outside of Japan, Sekine’s exploits at home have been impressive. Six of his seven wins have come via stoppage, three by KO, three by submission, with five of those in the first round.
Five rounds may be a trip too far for either man. Simplistically, Vera will look for the big bomb when standing up, while Sekine will focus on a submission when on the ground. If the early exchanges deny either man their opportunity, cardio should help determine the eventual winner.
Steve Dawson is ONE Championship’s lead commentator, a Fox Sports presenter and an author of sporting biographies. He can be found as @Gulasahi on Twitter & Instagram.