ONE: ‘Century’ preview 2: Grand coronation of Grand Prix winners
All eyes will be on the legendary Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan as three Grand Prix tournaments are set to conclude at the history-making ONE: ‘Century’ on October 13th.
The first two tourneys to culminate will happen on the morning show of the promotion’s double-header offering that is stacked with key match-ups as world titles are at stake, contenders aim to secure a shot at the gold, and rising stars look to establish themselves on the global stage.
Before these athletes step under the bright lights in the Japanese capital, learn what implications they could have in the momentous occasion as millions of fans around the world watch on.
Pound-for-pound king takes on ‘The King’ of Baguio City
Demetrious Johnson, who reigned as the pound-for-pound king of MMA for the last five years, brought a lot of hype when he joined ONE Championship late last year. Many fans expected that he would run through the competition in his new home, but that has not been the case for the 33-year-old native of Madisonville, Kentucky.
It has been a tough road to the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix finals for Johnson. In the quarterfinals, he met a game Yuya Wakamatsu, who showed off his slick striking in quick blitzes to deal some unexpected damage to his rival.
Fortunately, Johnson made up for it by displaying fantastic defensive grappling, which kept him out of trouble for a lot longer than many had suspected.
Meanwhile, Johnson had his hands full against Tatsumitsu Wada in the semifinals, where much of the first round was dominated by the skillful Japanese stalwart.
Wada took Johnson’s back and controlled him on the ground, which was one of the rare instances that ‘Mighty Mouse’ has ever looked to be in trouble in the grappling stakes. Luckily for Johnson, he punctuated the fight on a robust note, taking home a decision victory.
On October 13th, Johnson may face his greatest test yet in the form of Danny Kingad, who also had to battle tooth and nail to make it through his side of the tournament bracket.
Kingad, who hails from the famous Team Lakay, is known to be a slow starter but a strong finisher, as evidenced in most of his bouts.
If Kingad will be able to put Johnson in danger in their five-round encounter, he gives the American a run for his money.
It is all for the marbles
Eddie Alvarez has been forced to withdraw from the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix finals against Saygid Arslanaliev due to an injury. Instead, the man from Istanbul, Turkey will now face lightweight titleholder Christian Lee, who has stepped up with little more than two weeks until the event.
Lee has mainly competed in the featherweight division in the promotion, but he shocked the world by moving up in weight to defeat Shinya Aoki for the belt last May. The 21-year-old Singaporean also boasts a 100% finishing rate, which includes eight wins by knockout and four by submission.
In the other corner, Arslanaliev has also never been to the judges’ scorecards and has only gone beyond the first round once in his career. He has six knockouts and a pair of submission finishes on his record, and his only professional defeat came by disqualification due to an accidental foul.
OWS prospect looks to shine on main roster
After a successful run in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, Lito Adiwang is now ready to open the next chapter of his promising career. The 26-year-old from Baguio City is set to battle with Senzo Ikeda at ONE: ‘Century’.
Adiwang was offered a six-figure ONE Championship main roster contract after beating Anthony Do of Vietnam by unanimous decision at OWS 7 last August.
After seeing his star shine brightly on the OWS stage, Adiwang looks to carry over his momentum as he takes on Ikeda, a battle-hardened, all-action flyweight competitor who gained prominence under the Pancrase banner.
Thanks to a unique style that comes from his boxing background, Ikeda is known as a thrilling combatant to watch, and he wants to show that when he returns to the cage against a fan-favorite like Adiwang.
Korean prospect eager to move up in rank
If Yoon Chang Min’s first two outings under the ONE Championship umbrella are anything to go by, his focus is to confirm his position as one of South Korea’s emerging young stars.
Yoon was nothing short of outstanding in his last two fights, scoring two first-round wins in emphatic fashion, and now he has the chance to take a huge leap forward at ONE: ‘Century’ against Burmese knockout artist Phoe Thaw.
If either man walks out with their hand raised in triumph, he will punch his ticket to the upper echelon of the talent-filled featherweight division.
‘The Terminator’ kicks off morning show with scrap against ‘Pretty Boy’
‘The Terminator’ Sunoto will return to action on October 13th, and his sights are focused on placing himself back on the winning track as he is booked to square off with South Korean standout Kwon Won Il in a 68-kilogram catchweight fight.
Sunoto is coming off a unanimous decision defeat to Malaysia’s Muhammad Aiman last August and looks to redeem himself at the expense of a dangerous foe like Kwon.
Like Sunoto, Kwon seeks to break into the winner’s column once again after yielding to Koyomi Matsushima in a world title eliminator last June.
The classic grappler-versus-striker contest is the foundation of great matchups in the sport, and these two convincingly embody the epitome of each category.