ONE Championship: Gina Iniong feels at home with team Lakay

ONE Championship: Gina Iniong feels at home with team Lakay Six-time Philippine National Wushu Champion Gina “Conviction” Iniong has been a martial artist for over a decade and has been a proud member of Team Lakay since 2007. Iniong competed in both Wushu and mixed martial arts under the tutelage of coach Mark Sangiao while […]

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Athletes with the most to lose at ONE: Dawn of Heroes

For years now, the Philippines and ONE Championship, the top martial arts organization in Asia, have put on some fantastic events. The next event to be staged in Manila is ONE: Dawn of Heroes on 2 August.

The stakes are high as the card is packed with title bouts and essential matches in several weight classes. Here are five athletes with the most to lose at ONE: Dawn of Heroes.

Jonathan Haggerty

When an upstart pulls off an upset over a legendary opponent to win his first title, all eyes will be on his first title defense to gauge whether or not the victory was a fluke. That’s the situation Jonathan Haggerty is in after upsetting Sam-A Gaiyanghadao in May at ONE: For Honor in Jakarta, Indonesia, earning him the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship. 

At ONE: Dawn of Heroes, Haggerty will be defending his belt against the dynamic Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who is an explosive striker well worthy of a title shot. Questions have surfaced whether the win over Sam-A was a fluke or if Haggerty is genuinely good. That’s something he has to address in his tough first title defense.

Demetrious Johnson

No one has ever arrived with ONE Championship with higher expectations than Demetrious Johnson. He is already considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists in history and, at 32 years old, is still in his prime. Because of his brilliance, Johnson operates in a space where anything short of victory would be disappointing. Tatsumitsu Wada is the next man in line trying to pull off a shocker. Johnson is a huge favorite, but if he were to lose, it would be the biggest upset in mixed martial arts this year.

Eduard Folayang

The Filipino legend, who will be 36 later this year, just lost his ONE Lightweight World Title for the second time in March at ONE: A New Era. Despite how popular he is and how much he has accomplished with ONE Championship, the division is getting super competitive. Eduard Folayang can’t afford to lose two bouts in a row at this stage of his career. The fact that he is competing at home puts more pressure on Folayang. This match with Eddie Alvarez has to feel like a must-win for him. 

Eddie Alvarez

Similar to Folayang, Eddie Alvarez, though has been with ONE for only a few months now, is facing the same amount of pressure. The two men are close in age and are coming off losses. Alvarez is in danger of going on a three-bout losing streak, which will only fuel the flames surrounding his signing with ONE.

People’s expectations of him might not be as high as with Johnson’s, but it’s close. Alvarez was upset by Timofey Nastyuhkin in his first bout with ONE Championship, and to make matters worse, it came by the first-round stoppage. Alvarez has a lot to prove in Manilla, and a loss would keep him winless — a bad look for a 35-year-old at the beginning of a contract with his new organization.

Danny Kingad

Folayang isn’t the only Filipino carrying his country’s flag on the main card. Danny Kingad is one win away from moving to the finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. It’s expected he’ll face Johnson in the finals, but Kingad cannot look past his opponent, Reece McLaren. An opportunity to compete for the Grand Prix trophy and a chance to potentially face one of the greatest of all time is on the line for Kingad. 

The night in Manila should be fun.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/18/2019.

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Petchdam Petchyindee Academy will defend title against Ilias Ennahachi at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD

Bangkok, Thailand: The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), has just announced the initial bouts for ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD, set for the Impact Arena in Bangkok on Friday, 16 August. In the main event, reigning ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion Petchdam Petchyindee Academy of Thailand will defend his title against Ilias Ennahachi of The Netherlands.

Ticket information for ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD is available at www.onefc.com.

After winning the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship in his last bout, Thailand’s very own Petchdam Petchyindee Academy is ready to make the first defense of his title against Dutch-Moroccan kickboxer Ilias Ennahachi.

Petchdam is a multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion known for his devastating left kick, which is responsible for the majority of his wins. He trains out of the famed Petchyindee Academy in Bangkok alongside fellow Muay Thai World Champions Petchmorakot and Sorgraw. Over the course of his stellar career, the Thai hero has claimed several prestigious accolades, including Lumpinee Stadium and WBC World Muay Thai Championships, as well as a Toyota Marathon Tournament Title. Last May, Petchdam captured the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title with a comprehensive performance against Elias Mahmoudi.

Now Petchdam makes the first defense of his title against ONE Super Series newcomer, Ilias Ennahachi.

Considered one of the top kickboxers in the world, Ennahachi is one of the fastest rising talents in the sport. At just 23 years of age, Ennahachi is already a 6-time Kickboxing World Champion and is now looking to compete against the world’s best in ONE Super Series. With a professional kickboxing record of 34-3-0, Ennahachi’s first assignment is no easy task, as he takes on the champion himself, Petchdam in the main event of ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD.

Italian-Armenian kickboxing superstar Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan advanced to the semi-final round of the highly-acclaimed ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix with a victory over Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy earlier this July. In his next bout, Petrosyan takes on fellow semi-finalist “Smokin’” Jo Nattawut of Thailand.

A multiple-time Kickboxing World Champion, Petrosyan is one of the greatest and most dominant kickboxers of all time, having already accomplished an incredible amount in his sensational career. This includes two K-1 World MAX World Championships, a Glory Slam Tournament Championship, and several other prestigious titles. Petrosyan joined ONE Super Series in 2018 and has since put together a solid run through the ranks.

A former two division Lion Fight World Champion and WMC Muay Thai World Champion, Nattawut is one of the finest attacking talents in the striking world. Right from the opening bell, Nattawut is known for igniting the ring with his trademark intensity, and it has led him to sterling success in his career thus far. The winner between Nattawut and Petrosyan advances to the final round of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix and gets a chance to compete for the US $1 million prize.

Reigning ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex of Thailand begins her quest for a historic third World Title when she makes her highly-anticipated return to mixed martial arts competition against opponent Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka of India.

Stamp first made her ONE Championship debut as a participant in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, where she knocked out Rashi Shinde in 19 seconds. With dreams of one day becoming a three-sport World Champion, Stamp embarks on a remarkable journey for a mixed martial arts World Title.

Standing in Stamp’s way is Roka, who holds unblemished professional records in both mixed martial arts and boxing. Roka is a former Indian National Boxing Champion with fast and powerful hands. Nicknamed “Knockout Queen”, she has two submissions and two knockouts out of four wins. Making her ONE Championship debut, Roka takes on the talented Stamp Fairtex in what promises to be an exciting matchup.

In the semi-final round of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, former WBC and A1 Muay Thai World Champion Samy “AK47” Sana of France takes on former 2-time Russian Challenge and 2-time TNA Kickboxing World Champion Dzhabar “Genghis Khan” Askerov of Russia.

Sana shocked the world last April when he defeated Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex to advance to the tournament semi-finals. Sana was aggressive and assertive, as he put together the performance of a lifetime to score the upset.

Askerov, on the other hand, dominated previous opponent Enriko Kehl to bag a unanimous decision victory and advance in the tournament. Askerov is known for his crisp combinations and thunderous kicks, which he will look to utilize in a high-stakes showdown with Sana. This promises to be an action-packed striking extravaganza that fans will surely not want to miss.

Looking to string together two victories in ONE Championship, Vietnamese-American rising star and former LFA Featherweight Champion Thanh Le returns to action against Japanese veteran and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku.

Le burst onto the ONE Championship stage when he stopped dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Yusup Saadulaev with a knee last March. With a style that incorporates elements of taekwondo and boxing, Le will put his skills to the test against Boku.

Boku, meanwhile, is no stranger to facing the best talent ONE Championship has to offer, having taken on legends such as Shinya Aoki, Eduard Folayang, and Narantungalag Jadambaa. Boku has tremendous hands and decent grappling, which should prove to be a solid challenge for Le.

Thailand’s “Elbow Zombie” Muangthai PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym will return to the ONE Championship stage when he takes on Kenta Yamada of Japan in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai contest.

Muangthai, who owns a professional Muay Thai record of 198-41-4, was successful in his ONE Championship debut in November of 2018 when he defeated Panicos Yusuf by unanimous decision. Already a 3-time Muay Thai World Champion, the 25-year-old is looking to further his career in the world’s most prestigious all-striking league, ONE Super Series. Yamada, a former WBC Muay Thai Japan Champion, will do his best to derail Muangthai’s progress and boost his own spot in the standings.

Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva of Brazil is on the comeback trail looking to redeem himself following a handful of setbacks. He takes on Indonesian grappling specialist Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian in a strawweight contest.

Silva, a Copa do Mundo World Champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with over 15 years of experience, has won numerous regional and national titles in Brazil and is a 3rd degree black belt. Rahardian, on the other hand, is the former ONE Jakarta Flyweight Tournament Champion, and one of the finest martial arts talents to emerge from Indonesia. Five of his eight victories have come by submission.

Also seeing action in a series of competitive ONE Super Series Muay Thai bouts are some of the world’s greatest striking talents.

WKN, WPMF and WMC Lightweight World Champion Lerdsila Phuket Top Team of Thailand takes on WMC Muay Thai Champion Savvas “The Baby Face Killer” Michael of Cyprus, two-division WMC Muay Thai World Champion Bangpleenoi Petchyindee Academy of Thailand faces Super Muay Thai Champion Yohann Fairtex Drai of France, and 3-time IFMA World Champion Alaverdi Ramazanov of Russia goes head-to-head with Lion Fight Lightweight World Champion Ognjen Topic of Serbia.

Brazilan Jiu-Jitsu black belt and TFC Featherweight Champion Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev of Russia is set to square off against former DEEP Tournament Champion Shuya “Stealth” Kamikubo of Japan in a featherweight contest.

The 34-year-old veteran Saadulaev recently made the move up to featherweight after experiencing mixed success at bantamweight. However, “Maestro” has yet to record a victory since then. He looks to turn things around, this time against Kamikubo, a formidable opponent who is currently riding a six-bout win streak.

ONE Cambodia Featherweight GP Finalist and Kun Khmer specialist Chan Rothana of Cambodia will grace the ONE Championship ring with his presence, taking on Pan-American Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion Gustavo “El Gladiador” Balart of Cuba.

Chinese Sanda Champion Zhao Zhi Kang faces 5-time OPMMA Featherweight Champion Paul “The Great King” Lumihi of Indonesia in a bantamweight mixed martial arts contest while former CMSL Champion Hexigetu of China battles Philippine National Kyokushin Karate Champion Ramon “The Bicolano” Gonzalez in a strawweight bout.

What Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez must do to find success in Manila

Yielding different results in their respective debuts on 31 March in Tokyo Japan at ONE: A NEW ERA, Demetrious Johnson, and Eddie Alvarez have a few things to tweak as they get acclimated to a new promotion.

Once again, Johnson and Alvarez will compete on the same card when they battle Tatsumitsu Wada and Eduard Folayang, respectively, at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall of Asia in Manila, Philippines. 

Johnson is hoping for a smoother victory than he had over Yuya Wakamatsu to advance to the finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, while Alvarez is looking to bounce back from a first-round KO defeat at the hands of Timofey Nastyuhkin. 

Here is what both men have to do to find success.

Johnson Has to Close the Distance

Throughout Mighty Mouse’s career, he’s had to compete as the smaller man. When he began his mixed martial arts journey, there was no flyweight division in his promotion. He competed as a bantamweight where he had some solid success, but when the flyweight division was created, that’s when he became an all-time great. Hearkening back to his days as a bantamweight might be a good strategy for Johnson.

ONE Championship flyweights are naturally a little bigger than their counterparts in other promotions, and we saw that when Johnson competed against Wakamatsu. The young Japanese competitor’s size was initially a challenge, but ultimately Johnson was able to overcome it. Something similar could happen against the 5’7” Wada. However, Wada isn’t quite the athlete or isn’t as strong physically as Wakamatsu.

Still, Johnson will have to prove he can effectively close the distance in order to initiate the takedowns that will likely lead to another win.

Mighty Mouse Has to Use His Speed

Johnson has a number of elite skills, but his speed is probably his most intimidating quality. Not sure if there is a faster mixed martial artist in the world than him. He will have a huge edge over Wada in this area and must utilize this advantage with feints and movement. If he executes this properly, it could create all kinds of openings for strikes and takedowns.

Johnson Must Fight Small

Sometimes, longer combat sports athletes have to find ways not to compromise their height against a shorter opponent. In Johnson’s case, his shorter stature could favor him. In the quarterfinal round, Wada had some issues with the 4’11” Gustavo Balart before coming out with a unanimous decision. Johnson is four inches taller than Wada; the difference in size and quickness could still pose a problem for Wada as he attempts to reach Mighty Mouse with strikes. Johnson must stay tight in his stance to make it tough for Wada to reach his target areas. If that happens, Johnson should have a much easier time with Wada than he did with Wakamatsu.

Alvarez Must Utilize More Head Movement

In his past four or five bouts, Alvarez has been too easy to hit. He’s always been a tough and durable guy, but the wear and tear might be taking a toll on him. Head movement is going to be key for Alvarez in this bout. If he doesn’t keep his head off the centerline, he will put himself in danger of taking some powerful shots from Folayang.

Alvarez Cannot Forget About His Wrestling

Alvarez is an accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, but it seems he has forgotten about that part of his game and just wants to brawl. While fans obviously love a bar fight, Alvarez needs to get back to being a complete mixed martial artist. He will have an advantage over Folayang on the ground. If the opportunity presents itself, Alvarez would make the scrap with Folayang much easier by taking him down.

Alvarez Must Wait For Counter-Punching Opportunities

The match with Folayang has the potential to provide fireworks. Both men like to stand and bang. For Alvarez, the past to least resistance could likely come through his wrestling, but there is also a route to victory through stand-up exchanges. Folayang is traditionally an ultra-aggressive competitor. Alvarez will not have to find him in Manila.

Alvarez shouldn’t look to beat Folayang to the punch. Instead, he should catch and shoot with hard counter shots that could lead to a knockout. Folayang’s constant advancements and pressure aren’t always accompanied by a strong defense. He will drop his hands and leave himself open, which is what happened when he was knocked out by Martin Nguyen.

Alvarez isn’t as quick as Nguyen, but there will be opportunities for him to score with timed counters, and it might just lead to another highlight-reel KO.

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ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang is not underestimating Eddie Alvarez

Eduard Folayang is not underestimating Eddie Alvarez ahead of their co-main bout at ONE: Dawn of Heroes on Aug. 2. Former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang begins his climb back up the lightweight ladder when he squares off with American legend Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez in the co-main event of ONE: Dawn […]

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Eddie Alvarez re-enters ONE Championship’s lightweight grand prix

Former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is back in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.

After being eliminated from the tournament by Timofey Nastyukhin in March, Alvarez has re-entered the field as Nastyukhin has been forced to withdraw from the semifinals with an injury.

Alvarez’s bout with two-time ONE lightweight king Eduard Folayang, already scheduled for ONE: Dawn of Heroes, will now serve as a Lightweight Grand Prix semifinal fight, meaning the winner will be fighting Turkish destroyer Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev in the tournament final tentatively scheduled for ONE: Century in Tokyo in October.

This tournament has regrettably been plagued by injuries — so much so that it is nearly unrecognizable from its original version.

After defeating Amir Khan in the opening round, Costa Rica’s Ariel Sexton was forced out of the tournament with a broken arm. Khan then re-entered the tournament, and was eliminated by Dagi. Undefeated Hawaiian Lowen Tynanes was also forced out of the Grand Prix after defeating Honorio Banario in the first round. He was expected to meet Nastyukhin in the semifinals, who has now also withdrawn, opening the door for Eddie Alvarez and Eduard Folayang.

ONE: Dawn of Heroes will go down on August 2 in Manila, Philippines. The card stands out as one of the biggest ONE Championship has ever promoted.

It will be topped by a featherweight title fight between champion Martin Nguyen and challenger Koyomi Matsushima, and a flyweight Muay Thai title fight between champion Jonathan Haggerty and challenger Rodtang Jitmuangnon.

Elsewhere on the card, we’ll witness the two semifinal bouts of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. On one side of the bracket, we’ll see former UFC champ Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson meet Tatsumitsu Wada. On the other side, Team Lakay’s Danny Kingad will meet Reece McLaren, who replaces the injured former champion Kairat Akhmetov.

How do you think Eddie Alvarez will perform in his second ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix opportunity?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/15/2019.

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Despite debut loss, Eddie Alvarez back in ONE Championship lightweight tournament

Even though he lost his highly publicized promotional debut, Eddie Alvarez is back in the lightweight tournament at ONE Championship 99.

Alvarez (29-7) was booked for a fight against former champion Eduard Folayang (21-7), and now that fight will be one of two semifinals in the tournament since Timofey Nastyukhin (13-4) had to pull out with an injury, the promotion announced Monday.

Nastyukhin knocked out Alvarez in March in an opening-round tournament fight to advance to the semifinals. Three of the four semifinalists are replacements for fighters who won in the opening round, but are injured. Amir Khan lost to Ariel Sexton, but replaced Sexton in the final four due to an injury. Folayang is in for Lowen Tynanes. And Alvarez is in for Nastyukhin.

“ONE Championship 99: Dawn of Heroes,” featuring the Alvarez-Folayang semifinal fight, as well as Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight tournament semifinal fight against Tatsumitsu Wadam takes place Aug. 2 at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. It streams on B/R Live.

Alvarez, a former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion, signed with ONE in 2018 after a loss to Dustin Poirier brought his UFC tenure to an end. He made his promotional debut in March against Nastyukhin in the opening round of the lightweight tournament, but suffered a first-round TKO upset loss in Tokyo.

Folayang won ONE’s vacant lightweight title in November 2018 against Khan. It was the start of his second title reign. But in his first defense on the same card on which Alvarez lost to Nastyukhin, Folayang was submitted by legendary veteran Shinya Aoki and surrendered the belt.

The ONE Championship 99 lineup now includes:

Champ Martin Nguyen vs. Koyomi Matsushima – for featherweight title
Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada – flyweight tournament semifinal
Eddie Alvarez vs. Eduard Folayang – lightweight tournament semifinal
Danny Kingad vs. Reece McLaren – flyweight tournament semifinal
James Nakashima vs. Yushin Okami
Leandro Issa vs. Daichi Takenaka
Pongsiri Mitsatit vs. Miao Li Tao
Xie Bin vs. Edward Kelly
Ayaka Miura vs. Samara Santos
Arjan Bhullar vs. Mauro Cerilli
Geje Eustaquio vs. Yuya Wakamatsu – flyweight tournament alternate fight

For more on ONE Championship 99, check out the MMA Schedule.