ONE Championship is heading back to Manila, Philippines, to stage one of the biggest martial arts events of 2018. ONE: REIGN OF KINGS will take place at the Mall Of Asia Arena on Friday, 27 July, and history will be made.
ONE: Reign of Kings Fight Card:
- Kevin Belingon vs Martin Nguyen (for interim bantamweight belt)
- Renzo Grazie and Yuki Kondo
- Shannon Wiratchai vs Shinya Aoki
- Eduard Folayang vs Aziz Pahrudinov
- Panicos Yusuf vs Han Zi Hao
- Armen Petrosyan vs Chris Ngimbi
- Gary Tonon vs Rahul Raja
- Rene Catalan vs Stefer Rahardian
- Joshua Pacio vs Pongsiri Mitsatit
- Sor Sey vs Zie Bin
A ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion will be crowned in the headline attraction, a pair of martial arts legends will compete in their farewell bout, lightweight contenders will battle to ascend up the rankings, and much more.
With ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes on the sidelines with an injury, two of the weight class’ best athletes will collide for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title.
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In 2017, Nguyen captured the ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Titles in quick succession, as he knocked out Marat Gafurov and Eduard Folayang to become the first two-division World Champion in the organization’s history.
The Vietnamese-Australian narrowly missed adding the Bantamweight World Title to his collection, as he lost a split decision to Fernandes in March. But now, he has a chance to become the only three-division World Champion in mixed martial arts history.
To do that, he must defeat Belingon, who has been on fire. The Filipino has five straight wins, including three explosive knockouts against former World Title challengers Toni “Dynamite” Tauru, Reece “Lightning” McLaren, and Andrew Leone.
If “The Silencer” can win, he would bring a second piece of gold to Team Lakay, which currently counts undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio as part of its stable.
As a member of one of martial arts’ most famous families, Renzo Gracie is a name all fans will recognize. The Brazilian has had a legendary career, and train world-class athletes at his academy in New York City. Now, he will look to go out on a high note in his retirement bout.
He will meet Japan’s Yuki “Sora” Kondo at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS. The Japanese legend is one of mixed martial arts’ most experienced competitors, thanks to over 60 wins across more than 100 professional contests. He is also a two-division King of Pancrase. These pioneers have 48 years worth of experience in battle between them, and that will all come to a head in Manila.
The lightweight division is fiercely competitive, with more than a handful of elite martial artists vying for top spot. As they wait for Nguyen to finish his business at bantamweight and return to defend his belt, a true number one contender could be defined in Manila.
Thai mixed martial arts pioneer Wiratchai is a devastating counter-striker who has seven victories in his last eight outings – including a 21-second knockout of Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju in March – who has been on the cusp of a World Title shot for a while now.
He will make a huge case of one if he can defeat a former ONE World Lightweight Champion in Aoki, who holds the record for the division’s longest reign.
Aoki has had a phenomenal start to 2018. The Japanese icon defeated former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov via rear-naked choke in Grappling Super-Match in January, and then delivered a masterful first-round submission victory against Rasul Yakhyaev in May.
His former rival, and fellow former ONE Lightweight World Champion, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang also returned to winning ways with a dominant decision over previously-unbeaten Russian athlete Kharun Atlangeriev at the same event.
The Filipino icon can strengthen his own case to earn a rematch with “The Situ-Asian” by defeating another unbeaten Russian athlete – promotional newcomer Aziz Pahrudinov.
The Sambo World Champion from Dagestan brings an outstanding 20-0-1 into the contest with an astonishing 95 percent finishing rate. He has only gone the distance once in his career.
To make things even more interesting, Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon is also on the card. The five-time EBI Grappling Champion is not quite ready to make a run at the top of the division, but he will look to follow-up on his spectacular mixed martial arts debut, where he dispatched Richard Corminal at ONE: IRON WILL in March.
The American faces off against another more experienced foe in Rahul Raju, who will surely look to test Tonon’s developing striking game, and stop his rapid ascent up the mixed martial arts ranks.
The top strawweights in the world are all vying for the ONE Strawweight World Title, which is currently in the possession of Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito.
In Mania, unbeaten Indonesian Stefer Rahardian will aim to move one step closer to the two-time World Champion. The Indonesian is enjoying some tremendous form, and extended his unbeaten start to his mixed martial arts career to nine wins with another submission at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY.
His impressive BJJ skills have seen him pick up five rear-naked choke victories to date, and one more could push him towards the title shot.
His opponent, Rene Catalan, comes from elite stock in the martial arts world, being a multiple-time Wushu World Champion. Catalan has won four bouts in a row, giving him one of the division’s hottest streaks.
Mitsatit is 9-0 with eight finishes, and has put most of his opponents away with his elite Muay Thai skills. However, he has shown himself to be comfortable in all ranges, and another victory against a big name would bolster his impressive record.
Pacio will be another favorite among Filipino hometown fans as another homegrown member of Team Lakay. He has already taken on Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Title once, and coming in on the back of two sensational stoppage victories in his last two contests, “The Passion” is eyeing a rematch.
Two ONE Super Series bouts are all set to thrill the crowds on the Manila undercard with Muay Thai and kickboxing action.
Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi returns to ONE after meeting Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex in his debut. He is the leading Congolese striker in the martial arts world, and meets Italy’s Armen Petrosyan, who is the younger brother of all-time-great, Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan, under kickboxing rules.
Also on the card, UK-based Cypriot Panicos Yusuf brings two Muay Thai World Titles to ONE, along with an impressive 36-6 record.
He will square off against Han Zi Hao, a Top King Muay Thai World Champion. The Chinese athlete is poised to give Yusuf a rude welcome to The Home of Martial Arts, but fans will undoubtedly be thrilled by this clash of all-action styles.
The quality of the evening’s opener shows just how stacked the ONE: REIGN OF KINGS card is, as “The Stalker” Xie Bin aims to expand on his three-bout win streak in the ONE cage, against Cambodian Kun Khmer specialist, Sor Sey.
On paper, it’s an exact match, as both men bring 4-2 records to the cage. Tianjin Top Team Xie has more momentum thanks to a three-bout winning streak, but Sey has more experience thanks to his 145-47 record in the striking art of Kun Khmer.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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