ONE Championship: Dawn of Heroes Full Report

On Friday morning, ONE Championship hosted one of it’s bigger cards of the year. Besides it’s two championship bouts, the card also featured former UFC fighters Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson in their second ONE Championship fights. Since the card took place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, the show also had its fair share of Filippino fighters. Let’s look at the stacked 14 fight card, beginning with the prelims.

Bout 1: Sunoto vs. Muhammad Aiman (Bantamweight)

Starting off the evening in Manila was a MMA bout between Sunoto and Muhammad Aiman. Aiman had the youth advantage, being a whole decade younger than Sunoto. The first two minutes had evenly matched striking. Sunoto got a takedown in the third minute. Aiman was able to stand up and take it back to striking. Throughout the bout it was Aiman who was frequently coming forward. With two minutes left in the second round, the referee asked them for more action. Aiman landed a good overhand right shortly after. Sunoto got a takedown stuffed. Aiman tried for a guillotine in the final round. The fight went all three rounds with Aiman having a good finish, putting Sunoto in a corner and landing punches. Muhammad Aiman got the unanimous decision victory.

Bout 2: Ayaka Miura vs. Samara Santos (Strawweight)

In the next bout we had Japan’s Ayaka Miura face Brazil’s Samara Santos. Miura swarmed Santos right off the bat and scored a takedown. Miura landed knees to the head from top position while in the hold. Miura was in the hold for a few minutes, only escaping in the closing seconds of the round. Miura did the same thing at the start of the second round, getting another takedown. She put in an americana from side position, which gave her the win. 

Bout 3: Miao Li Tao vs. Pongsiri Misatit (Catchweight 125 lbs)

In a catchweight bout, Miao Li Tao fought Pongsiri Misatit. Misatit comes from the Tiger Muay Thai gym. Tao landed a takedown in the first minute, eventually going into top position and throwing elbows and punches. He took Misatit’s back and tried for a rear naked choke. At the start of the second round, Tao threw Misatit to the ground. Tao stayed dominant until there was a minute and half to go, where Misatit got up. He was able to take Tao’s back for a few moments before he lost it. As the round as concluding, Tao put in a rear naked choke but couldn’t hold it for long enough. By the time the third round came around it was obvious that Tao was in complete control. It was easily his best round. The fight went it’s allotted time, with all three judges giving the fight to Miao Li Tao.

Bout 4: Xie Bin vs. Edward Kelly (Featherweight)

The next fight had the first Filippino fighter on the card. Of course he got a warm welcome from the crowd. Both fighters landed some hard shots early on. Bin landed a takedown in the first minute. They stood up in clinch up against a corner. Exiting clinch, Bin landed a clean right cross punch. Bin scored another takedown over halfway through the round. He tried for a d’arce choke which looked pretty secure. Kelly stayed in this position for a long time before Bin let it go. Kelly took top position, postured up and landed some strikes. He stood up and dove down onto Bin with more strikes. In the first minute of the second round, Bin caught a kick and turned it into a takedown. He was in control for the minute that they were on the ground. Halfway through the round he scored a trip takedown. In top position, Bin focused more on punches this time. The referee stepped in due to punches to the back of the head. He was given the designated five minutes for injury time. The fight ended during the break, with the judges deciding who won the bout. With Edward Kelly out of the ring, it was announced that all three judges gave it to Xie Bin.

Bout 5: Yushin Okami vs. James Nakashima (Welterweight)

The fifth preliminary bout included Yushin Okami from Japan and James Nakashima from the United States. Nakashima, who trains in the MMA Lab, was putting his undefeated streak of 11 wins on the line. Okami tried for a single leg takedown early on, getting Nakashima to the ground for maybe a second. He held Nakashima’s torso from behind until Nakashima spun around and grabbed his neck. Nakashima went to the ground in an attempt for a guillotine choke. Still trying for the choke, Nakashima transitioned from being on his back into top position. Nakashima let the hold go eventually. The first rounded ended with both fighters in a standing clinch. In the second round, Okami had a takedown blocked quickly. Nakashima landed a right jab which dropped Okami. He landed a few more shots from top position, but Okami recovered and stopped the flurry. Nakashima had many more takedowns stopped in the third round. The fight went the distance with all three judges giving it to James Nakashima. He seemed injured afterwards, having trouble walking around. 

Bout 6: Daichi Takenaka vs. Leandro Issa (Bantamweight)

In the second bantamweight bout of the night, Daichi Takenaka fought Leandro Issa. Takenaka demonstrated good striking from the start, stringing together fast combinations. Issa caught Takenaka, but Takenaka was the one who got the better of a takedown. While on the ground, a cut on Issa’s forehead became visible. Issa was able to take top position in a half guard after Takenaka was on his back for a while. During the stand-up trading in the second round, Issa landed a powerful overhand right, although it didn’t seem to both Takenaka. What seemed like another cut was opened on Issa’s face. While Issa was responding with strikes of his own, Takenaka had a higher volume of punches. With a minute left in the round, Takenaka tried for a guillotine. The stream cut out before round three started, with it coming back when Daichi Takenaka was announced as the winner via TKO. I guess that’s one of the downsides of covering an event online instead of in person.

Bout 7: Dae Sung Park vs. Honorio Banario (Lightweight)

Dae Sung Park was on the non-favoured end of the pro-Phillipines crowd, with Honorio Banario having the crowd on his side. Both fighters were in a clinch at the start, but the referee split them due to inactivity. The split seemingly favoured Park, as he exploded with punches and kicks, dropping Banario. In the closing seconds of the first, Banario landed a couple of punches that shook Park, and then got a takedown. The second round was a break for both fighters, with no takedowns or hard shots. Park landed a good body kick halfway through the final round. Park threw down Banario for a takedown in the closing seconds of the fight. 

Bout 8: Yuya Wakamatsu (10-4) vs. Geje Esta (Flyweight World Grand Prix Reserve Bout)

In the final preliminary bout we had the reserve bout for the flyweight grand prix. While still in the feeling out process of the fight, Yuya Wakamatsu landed a two-punch combo which dropped Geje Esta and ended the bout. The win was a good bounce back from his loss against Demetrious Johnson back in March.

Bout 9: Andrew Miller vs. Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym (Muay Thai) (Bantamweight)

After ONE did the introduction of all main card fighters, we had our first muay thai bout of the evening. Worth noting that the muay thai bouts on this card were done with MMA gloves. While both fighters threw punches in the first round, it felt like Rodlek threw the harder punches. Miller slipped in the final seconds of the round. Rodlek had another good round. In the final round, Rodlek landed a right cross which dropped Miller. He got up, although the referee had seen enough and ended it.

Bout 10: Reece McLaren vs. Danny Kingad (Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final)

We got the first of two semi-final Flyweight GP fights next. Reece McLaren fought Danny Kingad. McLaren got a takedown in the first minute of the bout. Kingad tried for an armbar but lost it immediately. The crowd erupted when he almost put in the move. McLaren was on Kingad’s back for a long time, but then Kingad took top position as the round was ending. It was overwhelming how loud the crowd was cheering. McLaren took the fight back to the ground in the second round after Kingad missed a kick. When they went back to stand-up, Kingad threw good strikes. McLaren scored another takedown and kept in control for the second half of the round. At the start of the final round, Kingad was able to reverse a takedown. When they stood back up, he defended a take as well. McLaren stopped Kingad’s momentum with a takedown. Kingad had lots of ground control in the second half of the round. He had a strong round. In a split decision, Danny Kingad walked away with a victory. I doubt that score would be the same in a 10 point must system fight.

Bout 11: Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada (Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final)

To see who would face Danny Kingad in the finals, Demetrious Johnson battled Tatsumitsu Wada. During the fight, Wada looked way bigger than Johnson. In the first round, both fighters battled in the clinch for a minute or so before Wada took Johnson’s back and landed on the canvas. Johnson flipped himself around for a moment, until Wada brought him back to the position before. While he didn’t do much, Wada was in control for most of the first round. A large amount of the second round was contested in a standing clinch. Both fighters threw knees to the mid-section and legs during the clinch. Johnson eventually got a double leg takedown. He was in top position for the rest of the round. In the first minute of the third round, Johnson caught a leg and got a single leg takedown. Wada was hit with an elbow on the ground which cut him open. The referee stopped halfway through the round for the cut to be checked on. The fight resumed, with Wada getting up from the ground with a minute left in the fight. With 20 seconds left in the fight, Wada took Johnson’s back. Just like the other semi-final fight, the bout went all three rounds. While it was a challenging bout for Demetrious Johnson, he won the fight via unanimous decision.

Bout 12: Eduard Folayang vs. Eddie Alvarez (Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-Final)

Another familiar face for people who don’t frequent ONE was in the next fight. In his second ONE Championship fight, Eddie Alvarez fought Eduard Folayang in the semi-finals of the lightweight GP. Folayang was throwing explosive kicks throughout. Alvarez seemingly got dropped by a leg kick. Folayang did ground and pound, attempting to close out the fight, but Alvarez was able to take top position. Folayang gave up his back and was put in a rear naked choke which ended the bout. In what could have been another tragic stoppage for Alvarez, he was able to out-wrestle Folayang to win.

Bout 13: Jonathan Haggerty vs. Rodtang Jitmuangnon (ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship)

The co-main event of the evening was a muay thai bout for the promotion’s flyweight muay thai championship. Jonathan Haggerty attempted to defend his belt. It was schedule for five rounds of three minutes. Haggerty did a good job of utilizing push kicks in the first round. In the second round Rodtang landed an elbow after the referee shouted to stop a break. Rodtang woke up in the third round, letting his fists go a little more. This was a really exciting round to watch. Rodtang was obviously confident in his third-round performance, jumping on the ropes and egging on the crowd when the round ended. Rodtang’s performance peaked in the fourth round when he scored a knockdown via punches. The fight went all five rounds. By unanimous decision, Rodtang Jitmuangnon was crowned the new ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion.

Bout 14: Martin Nguyen (12-3) vs. Koyomi Matsushima (11-3) (ONE Lightweight Championship)

In the main event of the evening, Martin Nguyen attempted to defend his ONE Lightweight Championship against Koyomi Matsushima. After some quiet stand-up, Matsushima scored a takedown. Many more times Matsushima would score takedowns and out-wrestle Nguyen. In an attempt to defend, Nguyen would put some of his body outside of the ring, which Matsushima was fed up with by the time the round was ending. In the final moments of the first round Nguyen landed a knee exiting a takedown attempt by Matsushima. Early in the second round Nguyen was able to stuff a takedown. Nguyen kept it in stand-up in the second and started to lay down hard strikes. Matsushima was getting pelted with punches on the ground until the referee stepped in and ended the bout. 

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