On Friday, 2 August, ONE Championship staged the biggest martial arts event to date in Manila, Philippines.
ONE: DAWN OF HEROES promised fans in the Mall Of Asia Arena a night of spectacular action, and the biggest names in martial arts did not disappoint.
Amid the evening’s incredible action, here is a look at the top three performances from the ONE stars in Manila (in no particular order).
#1 Dae Sung Park Rolls Over “The Rock” On His Way To The Top
“Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Park continues to steamroll his way to the top of the lightweight division.
At ONE: DAWN OF HEROES, the rising South Korean star handed former World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario a sound defeat to clinch the biggest win of his career.
The inaugural season winner of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series (OWS) headed into the contest with an experience disadvantage against the veteran Banario.
Yet, Park displayed little signs of fear.
The Team Macho representative played the role of the early aggressor, closing the distance often to nullify any strikes from his Filipino opponent.
Park struck early with a barrage of strikes, which rocked Banario and brought him down to the canvas. But the Team Lakay martial artist withstood the ground and pound from “Crazy Dog.”
“The Rock” came storming back in the second frame, but he fell victim to Park’s close-range knee strikes in the clinch.
Although Banario scored with some counters, it did little to deter the South Korean from pressing forward.
Heading into the third stanza, both competitors gave it their all despite the onset of fatigue, leaving the fate of the contest in the hands of the ringside judges.
“Crazy Dog” did enough to earn the unanimous decision win with his effective striking and dominance in the clinch.
This win improved his record to 10-2 and placed him as the newest contender in the lightweight division.
#2 “The Underground King” Digs Deep To Pull Out Win Over Folayang
The crowds made known their support for countryman and local hero Eduard “Landslide” Folayang with early chants of his name during his ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal showdown against Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez.
Alvarez started the contest with caution, feeling out the wushu specialist as both men exchanged short-range jabs and leg kicks.
Things started to heat up as “Landslide” thrilled the fans with his trademark spinning elbows and roundhouse kicks.
Folayang delivered a precise kick that stung the heel of the Philadelphia native, sending him careening backward onto the canvas.
From there, Folayang pounced on the American and proceeded to unleash an onslaught of blows on his rival, to rapturous applause and cheers from the crowd.
Alvarez appeared to be in serious trouble, but “The Underground King” kept his cool and found a way to transition onto Folayang’s back. He quickly locked in a rear-naked choke and forced a tap just two minutes into the first round.
With this win, the 35-year-old did exactly what he said he would do and broke the hearts of the Filipino’s hometown crowd.
Alvarez moves on to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix final in Tokyo, Japan where he will face fellow finalist, Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev, at ONE: CENTURY on 13 October.
#3 Martin Nguyen Halts The Matsushima Hype Train
Back in the Philippines for his third World Title defense, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen promised fans that it would be an early night.
His prediction would prove accurate yet again as “The Situ-Asian” turned in another striking masterclass to retain his ONE Featherweight World Title against Japanese challenger Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima.
Matsushima built a solid case for himself as the top contender to Nguyen’s featherweight crown with his powerful kicks and formidable wrestling.
However, it mattered little against the more experienced Nguyen, who found the space to trade strikes with ease against the Shooto Welterweight Tournament Champion in the first stanza.
Going into the second frame, Nguyen landed a missile of a right hand that would have slept any other opponent, but Matsushima’s chin proved surprisingly sturdy as the Yokohama native got back to his feet, slightly dazed.
Another set of quick jabs from “The Situ-Asian” caught “Moushigo” square on the jaw and put him on his back, giving the Vietnamese-Australian the perfect opening to go on the offensive.
Curled up and defenseless against Nguyen’s ground and pound, referee Oliver Coste stepped in to put a halt to the proceedings with 20 seconds remaining in the second round.
Nguyen’s latest win further solidifies his case as the undisputed king of the featherweight division and brings his record up to an impressive 13-3.