In addition to a blockbuster main event featuring newly-crowned ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and top lightweight contender Ev “E.T.” Ting of Malaysia, ONE Championship recently announced eight bouts to solidify a spectacular fight card in Manila. The event takes place at the 20,000-seater Mall of Asia Arena on 21 April.
Added to the card are Folayang’s veteran Team Lakay stablemates Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon (14-5), Danny “The King” Kingad, and the debuting Gina “Conviction” Iniong (4-2).
Belingon, a wushu striking specialist, is coming off a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Tajikistan prospect Muin Gafurov last October, and is set to take on Finnish grappling sensation Toni “Dynamite” Tauru (11-4-1). Tauru submitted Belingon’s Team Lakay teammate Geje Eustaquio last December, and Belingon has been wanting a piece of Tauru ever since.
Following Eustaquio’s loss, Filipino fight fans took to social media to demand a Belingon-Tauru matchup, to which the 29-year-old Belingon promptly agreed. Now, Belingon gets exactly what he had asked for. Tauru is certainly no slouch however, and is as dangerous as a fighter as they come. The stylistic matchup should be an entertaining affair for however long it lasts.
Making her highly-anticipated ONE Championship debut is Team Lakay female atomweight athlete Gina “Conviction” Iniong. She will go head-to-head with Filipino-English star, “The Kilapino” Natalie Gonzales Hills (1-4).
Iniong is one fighter Filipino fans have been yearning to see inside the ONE Championship cage. She already holds a victory over former atomweight title challenger Mei Yamaguchi in another promotion, and is said to be a legitimate candidate for a run at “Unstoppable” Angela Lee’s ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
If Iniong can get past Hills, who has been working hard to improve her skills training in the United States over the past couple of months, it could set up a possible date with higher-tier opponents later this year.
Making his return to the ONE Championship cage is high-flying young star Danny “The King” Kingad. Kingad, one of the most promising prospects to come out of the Philippines in recent memory, is undefeated so far in his professional career. His last two fights with ONE have ended in spectacular finishes. He’ll take on Malaysian prospect Muhammad Aiman (2-1).
The man Kingad defeated in his last outing, the enigmatic Eugene Toquero (8-4) will also be making an appearance in Manila, this time against unbeaten Indonesian fighter Stefer Rahardian (5-0).
Aside from the incredible showcase of top local talent from the Philippines, a handful of international ONE superstars are also scheduled to see action, with the main card featuring a bout between Cambodia’s Chan Rothana (4-2) and China’s Xie Bin (2-2).
What’s more, Christian “The Warrior” Lee (5-1), a top featherweight prospect representing Singapore by way of Waipahu, Hawaii, is ready to make his return to the ONE Championship cage.
Lee, who was put to sleep courtesy of a Martin Nguyen guillotine choke last August, took some time away from competition to work on sharpening his skills for an inevitable comeback. The 18-year-old will finally get to face long-time divisional rival and fellow top prospect Keanu Subba (5-2) of Malaysia.
The pair have long been on somewhat of a collision course as two of the top young talents in the promotion. They get the chance to settle the score once and for all in Manila.
Also on the card is Evolve MMA female stalwart and women’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Michelle Nicolini (3-1). Nicolini made her ONE Championship promotional debut last November, winning by submission over Mona Samir. This time, the eight-time BJJ world champion is set to clash with unbeaten 33-year-old Russian fighter Irina Mazepa (2-0).
Mazepa is one of the top contenders at strawweight, having already defeated Malaysian standout Ann Osman and former women’s boxing world champion Ana Julaton in her first two appearances inside the ONE Championship cage. It will be a tremendous test for Nicolini, who gets the opportunity to prove her mettle against a top-tier foe.
Kicking off the preliminary portion of the night is Filipino wushu specialist Robin Catalan (5-2) who takes on compatriot Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado (6-0).
All in all, ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY is certainly one of the most stacked fight cards of the year. Filipino fight fans have on their hands an evening that they just cannot afford to miss. Additional bouts will be announced at a later date.
On the heels of yet another stunning performance where she dominated challenger Jenny Huang in the main event of ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM in Bangkok, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee makes good on her promise to be a more active fighter in 2017.
The 20-year-old Lee (7-0) is now scheduled to make the second defense of her title on 26 May, when ONE Championship returns to the Singapore Indoor Stadium for ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES. The opponent this time around is undefeated atomweight fighter Istela Nunes (6-0) of Brazil.
“I said at the beginning of the year that I will make 2017 one to remember. I will keep my promise of being as active as I possibly can, and I can’t wait to get right back in there,“ said Lee.
The 24-year-old Nunes, who defeated Japanese MMA veteran Mei Yamaguchi via a closely-contested split decision last August, earned her shot at the title via a gritty performance.
Although Yamaguchi gave Angela Lee all she could handle in their May 2016 bout for the inaugural women’s atomweight belt, the Japanese fighter came up short against Nunes, who was making her ONE Championship debut.
Nunes is so far unbeaten in her professional mixed martial arts career, yet Lee welcomes the challenge and sends a warning to Nunes ahead of the matchup.
“After my last fight, I showed everybody just how much I have improved over the last couple of months. I’m ready to do it again. Istela Nunes had better be ready to go to battle, because this time I’m defending the title on my turf,” Lee concluded.
Nunes is the next logical opponent for Lee, having beaten a former title challenger. As Lee continues to clean out the women’s atomweight division, her star continues to rise along with her budding reputation and worldwide fame. Today, Lee is arguably ONE Championship’s biggest superstar, and appears to be in the midst of what could be a very lengthy title run.
Nunes, on the other hand, has her eyes fixated on an upset.
“When I joined ONE Championship, I had my eyes set on the world title. It’s my goal to someday become a world champion in mixed martial arts, and Angela Lee is one of the best fighters in the world,” said the Brazilian, vowing to do whatever it takes to capture the title.
“I am preparing myself well and will make sure that I come ready for the best Angela Lee possible. On 26 May, I will accomplish what so many others failed to do. I will beat Angela Lee and become champion.”
ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES is set for 26 May at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Additional bouts have yet to be announced.
After an entrance clearly inspired by Disney’s Aladdin film, people might have been wondering if the Bangkok Fight Lab product was taking his fight against Richard”Notorious” Corminal seriously enough. The hometown crowd at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, were undoubtedly entertained, but now he had to bring it inside the cage.
Indeed there were times during the fight when Wiratchai seemed to be smiling, laughing, and enjoying himself thoroughly. He did not enjoy the right hand that knocked him down early, though. Corminal might have been on the defensive, but once he let his fists fly, “One Shin” felt the sting and clearly realized he had a real fight on his hands.
Corminal, a Malaysian-based Filipino who trains out of Muayfit PJ, tried to pressure Wiratchai against the fence after taking a few hard shots. He looked for a takedown from behind, but the Thai hero successfully spun his way free and reset at the center of the cage, throwing a front kick to gauge the range. Once he had Corminal lined up, he threw a massive right hand and now it was Corminal’s turn to recover from a knockdown.
Wiratchai was not going to give him that chance, however. He came forward with a lightning-fast array of strikes, left and right hands, and a flying knee to boot. In the end, it was one precise right hand to the chin that caused Corminal to crumble. Referee Yuji Shimada decided he had seen enough, waving off the contest at 3:37 of the first round.
“One Shin,” who moves to 7-1, declared his victory “the best feeling ever” and promised to have his eye on the upcoming title fight between ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang and challenger Ev Ting at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY. As for Corminal, he suffers his second career loss and falls to 4-2.