ONE Dawn of Heroes Preview

Photo Courtesy of ONE Championship

ONE Dawn of Heroes goes down Friday, August 2nd at 7 AM ET. The card emanates from Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. It’s a stacked card that offers up a little something for everyone. There are some high-level Muay Thai fights set for the event, multiple champions (and possibly title contenders) will be decided, and several Grand Prix bouts bolster the card.

Title Fights and Muay Thai Action

Martin Nguyen vs. Koyomi Matsushima is for the ONE featherweight championship and is situated at the top of the marquee. Nguyen’s last fight was a successful title defense and a rebound from a pair of failed title bids at bantamweight. Matsushima has a similar level of experience and is riding back to back wins including a first-round finish of former ONE featherweight champion Marat Gafurov. Based on both men’s respective track records, the inference could be made that this main event will be a barnburner.

Jonathan Haggerty vs. Rodtang Jitmuangnon is the co-main event bout and is a high consequence Muay Thai fight. Haggerty is looking to defend the ONE Muay Thai flyweight championship against an experienced opponent. One with over 400 more fights than the champion, Jonathan Haggerty. Jitmuangnon fought three times this calendar year under the ONE banner and he went a spotless 3-0.

Capturing gold at 135 lbs. would be the perfect capstone for Jitmuangnon’s 2019 run in ONE. A similar sentiment would reign true for the champion who also collected an ISKA World Title, a WBC International Title, and the Roar Combat League World Title. This fight pits a surging prospect in the art of eight limbs against a seasoned pro with an absurd amount of fights to his credit. European informed kickboxing takes on traditional Muay Thai at ONE Dawn of Heroes.

A Lightweight Dream Match

Eduard Folayang vs Eddie Alvarez is a semi-final bout in the ONE lightweight grand prix. This is significant in and of itself but there are more narrative tendrils to this fight. This is a chance for both of these men to get back on track in a big way. Both were finished pretty emphatically in their last outings. Alvarez in his ONE debut was eliminated from the lightweight grand prix in the opening round. Yet, after a slew of injuries, Alvarez reentered the fold while Folayang is a new addition. Undoubtedly these two former champions are wanting to march into the grand prix finals.

Considering the fighting styles both men have and the high profile that each has, this bout could very well be the fight of the night. A bold claim for a card like ONE Dawn of Heroes but on paper, this fight could deliver big time.

Alvarez is lovingly dubbed the violence-weight champion for his riveting fight style. But Alvarez collected gold belts from UFC, Bellator, and a myriad of other promotions. Folayang is a former champion in ONE, beat high-level fighters from across the world, and always brings a high octane style that is sure to thrill. Alvarez fighting Folayang reads like a dream fight that one might stumble upon on a lazy afternoon.

Grand Prix Action

Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada is a semi-final bout in the ONE flyweight world grand prix. Johnson has said in past interviews that he would like to compete internationally and take on champions from other organizations. ‘Mighty Mouse’ has a chance to do this when he takes on Wada who is the DEEP flyweight champion.

Any time one of the all-time greats compete, it’s worth watching just for that. But it will also be curious to see how Johnson looks after his ONE debut. Johnson did get the finish but it was not the steamrolling that some thought the bout would become. His sophomore performance will provide a degree of insight into whether or not there were some “new promotion jitters” in his debut performance.

Danny Kingad vs. Reece McLaren is the other semi-final bout in the ONE flyweight world grand prix. Both of these men have victories over Wada. So if Wada secures the upset win over Johnson on the other side of the bracket, we could have a finals bout that is a rematch regardless of who wins here. Kingad is riding a five-fight win streak while McLaren is 3-3 in his last six. McLaren is also stepping in on somewhat short notice to replace Kairat Akhmetov.

Yuya Wakamatsu vs Geje Eustaquio lock horns in a reserve bout for the flyweight Grand Prix. Eustaquio is a former interim flyweight champion and Wakamatsu has had a lot of success in Pancrase. Also, Wakamatsu is coming into this bout after a spirited performance albeit in a losing effort to Demetrious Johnson. Either man would make a great replacement should someone fall out of the flyweight grand prix going forward.

Possible Title Eliminators

James Nakashima vs Yushin Okami could very well determine the next challenger for ONE’s welterweight belt. Nakashima vs Okami is an intriguing crossroads fight between an undefeated prospect and one of the most well regarded Asian MMA fighters ever. The bout itself will also be interesting if things get to the grappling. Both men have strong wrestling pedigrees. The strong wrestling acumens could also cause this one to transform into a striking battle.

Mauro Cerilli vs Arjan Bhullar pits a former title contender against an anticipated new signee to ONE. Cerilli fell to Brandon Vera in the first round during that aforementioned bid for ONE Championship gold. Since then, Cerilli notched a first-round TKO finish over Alain Ngalani earlier this year.

Now Cerilli looks to halt the momentum of Bhullar who’s jumping over from UFC. Bhullar debuts with ONE Championship on the heels of a two-fight winning streak and after compiling an overall UFC record of 3-1. Vera already has a fight booked for October but the winner of this bout could very well contend for his heavyweight title next.

Preliminary Bouts Part One

Honorio Banario has competed in multiple divisions, contended for titles in ONE Championship, and has fought for the promotion since ONE FC 2. Dae Sung Park is a veteran of ROAD FC as well as Shooto and is presently unbeaten under the ONE banner.

Leandro Issa is a UFC veteran who has competed with ONE Championship on and off since their inaugural event. Daichi Takenaka is much earlier in his journey with ONE comparatively, has a 1-1 record in the promotion, and is looking to rebound off of a loss in his last fight.

Edward Kelly has been in there with current champions Christian Lee and Martin Nguyen. Xie Bin is unbeaten in his last 7, has a variety of choke-based finishes, and has plied his trade solely in ONE Championship.

Preliminary Bouts Part Two

Pongsiri Mitsatit snapped a two-fight losing skid in his last outing by getting a first-round finish from a knee to the body. Litao Miao is 2-0 in his ONE career with first-round finishes via punch in both contests.

Ayaka Miura is a Pancrase vet who is coming off her debut with ONE Championship. It ended in a first-round Americana victory for Miura. Samara Santos needs a big win here as she is 1-5 in her last six and lost her debut in ONE Championship.

Sunoto Peringkat is 2-2 in his last four and has competed in ONE since early 2015. Muhammad Aiman recently had a three-fight winning streak snapped. He wants to rebound with a win in his first fight of 2019. This bout is slated to be the first fight of the evening.

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