ONE Championship returned to Manila, Philippines to stage the biggest night in the country’s martial arts history with ONE: DAWN OF HEROES at the Mall Of Asia Arena.
Fans reveled last Friday, 2 August as they witnessed a martial arts extravaganza with some of the sport’s biggest superstars in historic World Title bouts and iconic match-ups.
After this star-studded affair, we review three major takeaways from this action-packed night.
#1 Family And Country Continue To Drive Thai Heroes To Success
Trailblazers Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym and Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon once again showed they belonged on the global stage for martial arts.
The two men dazzled as part of the main card, but it was Rodlek who kicked things off with a bang.
While his tremendous power contributed to a decisive victory, Rodlek’s will to win came from a deeper place. He never forgot the struggles and sacrifices that his family endured, which allowed him to pursue a professional career in martial arts.
To honor his parents and country, the WMC and Channel 7 Stadium Muay Thai World Champion only needed one punch to knockout and defeat Scottish opponent Andrew “Maddog Fairtex” Miller.
Miller failed to capitalize on his initial range advantage and allowed Rodlek to slowly creep back into the contest on the back of his strong punching power and trademark aggression.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event of the night, his compatriot Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon earned the biggest win of his career.
“The Iron Man” looked unstoppable in his unanimous victory over Jonathan “The General” Haggerty to become the new ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion.
The match held significance for both men, but more so for Rodtang. The Thai superstar wanted the victory as a tribute to the late Mr. Huan, his mentor, and the owner of Jitmuangnon gym where he now trains.
Rodtang had to overcome a slow start as “The General” commanded most of the attention in the first two rounds with his reach advantage.
Like Rodlek before him, the Bangkok resident’s aggression allowed him to breach the Londoner’s range and score his trademark powerful strikes.
“The Iron Man” may have gotten the judges’ nod with his incredible power and steely resolve, but he knows the support from his wife at ringside and family at home were equally crucial to his win.
#2 Dae Sung Park Is Built For The Big Stage
Rich Franklin is very high on “Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Park. He believes the South Korean will be the next big star to come out of ONE Warrior Series.
Dae did nothing to quell that enthusiasm Friday night – in fact, it has probably now only intensified.
The rising South Korean star upset veteran and former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario on his home soil by unanimous decision.
Park showcased excellent stand-up against the wushu specialist and impressed everyone with his tenacity, never giving fans any doubts that he can trade with the very best on the big stage.
In notching the biggest win of his career, the Season 1 winner of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series (OWS) announced his arrival as the next exciting contender in the lightweight division.
If Park can sustain his rich form and string together more wins, a World Title shot may be in the cards soon enough.
#3 Martin Nguyen Is The Greatest Featherweight In ONE History
Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen has proved beyond all doubt that he is the undisputed featherweight great in ONE history after successfully defending his title against Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima.
Since his September 2015 loss to then-ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov, Nguyen has been on a tear in The Home Of Martial Arts.
Some of the illustrious names he put away included superstars like Filipino legend Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Singaporean phenom Christian “The Warrior” Lee, and former World Champion Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa.
Nguyen is perhaps also best known for finishing his opponents in style with highlight-reel knockouts.
“The Situ-Asian” did so again by shutting down Matsushima’s famed wrestling ability before sealing the contest with yet another one of his trademark knockout punches.
As he sits atop the featherweight throne, there may be a hint of things to come as in his post-bout interview, Nguyen asked the Manila crowd if they were interested in a trilogy.
If that does happen, the third installment of Nguyen-Lee can either be at lightweight or featherweight as each man has expressed interest in challenging the other.
For now, Nguyen will wait patiently for a worthy contender to mount a serious challenge to his title.