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Mixed Martial Arts

Folayang’s first title defense headlines stacked Kings of Destiny card

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ONE Championship has just announced a spectacular fight card for ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, which takes place Friday, April 21, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The action-packed evening promises to feature the absolute best in local and international mixed martial arts talent. In the main event, ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of Baguio City, Philippines, will make the first defense of his title against top contender Ev “E.T.” Ting of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“In addition to the highly-anticipated matchup between local hero Eduard Folayang and top lightweight Ev Ting, ONE Championship has confirmed a handful of compelling bouts between Asia’s top superstars set to take place inside the ONE cage on fight night,” CEO Victor Cui said.

“Fans will not want to miss all the action that goes down in Manila, as we are already gearing up for an absolutely electrifying evening of world-class mixed martial arts.”

ONE Lightweight World Championship: Folayang vs. Ting


Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the legendary Team Lakay in Baguio City is one of the Philippines’ most experienced mixed martial artists. After nearly a decade of competing in various promotions, Folayang has amassed an impressive 17-5 professional MMA record. The 33-year-old veteran authored a career resurgence in 2016, winning three consecutive bouts against high-profile opponents while showcasing a highly-improved wrestling and grappling arsenal. In his last bout, Folayang shocked the world by capturing the ONE Lightweight World Championship with a sensational victory over Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki. Folayang will now put his title on the line against Ev Ting.

Ev “E.T.” Ting is a mixed martial artist with deep roots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Living and training out of Auckland, New Zealand, Ting owns a stellar 13-3 professional record, including four wins by submission and four exciting knockouts. A winner of his last four bouts over top-caliber opponents, Ting is one of the most talented mixed martial artists to come out of Malaysia. In his most recent bout last February, Ting overcame a tough challenge from MMA veteran Kamal Shalorus to win by split decision. The victory earned him a date with ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang.

Bantamweight bout: Belingon vs. Tauru


Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of the famed Team Lakay MMA in Baguio City, Philippines, is one of the country’s most talented mixed martial artists. With a professional record of 14-5, Belingon is known as a fierce competitor with the ability to finish opponents in a variety of ways. The 29-year-old wushu stalwart has five knockouts on his resume and is one of the most feared strikers in his division. In his last bout, Belingon defeated top Tajikistan prospect Muin Gafurov by decision. He now faces another tough task in Toni Tauru.

32-year-old Toni “Dynamite” Tauru of Utti, Finland, is a professional mixed martial artist competing in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division. He owns a record of 11 wins and four losses, including one draw; eight of his wins impressively come by submission. A feared grappling specialist, Tauru submitted former ONE title challenger Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio via first-round submission. Now, Tauru is tasked to take on Eustaquio’s Team Lakay stablemate Kevin Belingon.

Featherweight bout: Lee vs. Subba


18-year-old Christian “The Warrior” Lee, younger brother of reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, began his professional mixed martial arts career on an absolute tear, railing off five straight victories by thrilling first-round finish while only encountering one setback. He has impressed fans with his ability to seek out stoppage wins over top-caliber opponents. Known as an unpredictable striker with an unorthodox grappling technique, Lee is now set to return to the ONE Championship cage, this time against top Malaysian featherweight prospect Keanu Subba.

22-year-old Keanu Subba of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a former amateur MMA champion and one of the most promising young talents in ONE Championship’s featherweight ranks. He is 5-2 as a professional mixed martial artist, after making a name for himself as a former MIMMA featherweight champion. In his most recent bout, Subba trumped fellow top prospect Ahmed Mujtaba of Pakistan, winning impressively by first-round submission. Subba’s experience inside the ONE Championship cage as a young fighter has taught him great lessons that he says have helped him improve his overall game.

Flyweight bout: Kingad vs. Aiman


An unbeaten flyweight contender from Team Lakay, Danny Kingad is a professional mixed martial artist with a perfect four-win, no-loss record. A true warrior from the mountains of the Cordilleras and one of the top prospects to come out of Baguio City, Philippines, Kingad is a tremendous striker, who also possesses solid grappling skills. In his most recent bout, Kingad needed just one round to impressively submit Filipino flyweight contender Eugene Toquero. He will take on Malaysia’s Muhammad Aiman next.

Former amateur standout and MIMMA featherweight champion, Muhammad Aiman of Malaysia is a professional mixed martial artist with a 2-1 record. Since encountering a setback in his first pro bout, Aiman has rallied to a two-fight win streak, defeating Hisyam Samsudin by unanimous decision in his first fight inside the ONE Championship cage, then stopping Brazilian grappler Eduardo Novaes in his most recent bout. The 22-year-old is now considered one of Malaysia’s top featherweight prospects.

Flyweight bout: Toquero vs. Rahardian


Flyweight standout Eugene Toquero is a former celebrity mixed martial arts and fitness coach from Manila, Philippines. The 5’5” Filipino stalwart has a knack for executing highlight-reel striking techniques and is very unpredictable, operating at a pace opponents find hard to keep up with. In his most recent bout, Toquero fell to compatriot and rising star Danny Kingad, losing by first round submission in a tough contest. Now Toquero seeks to return to contention when he takes on Stefer Rahardian.

Unbeaten Indonesian prospect Stefer Rahardian impressed in his ONE Championship debut by winning the ONE: TITLES & TITANS Flyweight Tournament in August of 2016. Rahardian finished both Yotha Hutagalung and Hendrick Wijaya by first round rear-naked choke to become the tournament winner. In his last outing, Rahardian outperformed Jerome S. Paye to win by unanimous decision in three rounds.

Bantamweight bout: Rothana vs. Bin


Bantamweight fighter Chan Rothana of Phnom Penh, Cambodia is a 31-year-old former Khun Khmer practitioner who transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2014. He currently sports a 4-2 professional MMA record which includes one submission victory and three wins by knockout. Known as a devastating and relentless striker, Rothana is a winner of two of his last three bouts. He returns to the ONE Championship cage against Chinese standout Xie Bin.

19-year-old Xie Bin of China is one of the most talented young fighters to come out of Tianjin. He started off his mixed martial arts career with a victory over compatriot Ma Shuang, and has since gone 2-2 as a professional. In his last fight, Xie outworked hard-hitting Indonesian fighter Mario Satya Wirawan to win via three-round unanimous decision.

Atomweight bout: Iniong vs. Hills


Top Filipino women’s mixed martial arts contender Gina “Conviction” Iniong has finally found her way to ONE Championship. The Baguio City native is a member of the renowned Team Lakay and owns a professional mixed martial arts record of four wins and two losses. Three of her four victories have come by thrilling finish, which includes two impressive submissions. In her last bout, Iniong submitted her opponent in another promotion. Now, Iniong is set to debut at atomweight, and will take on Natalie Gonzales Hills.

29-year-old Filipino-English fighter Natalie Gonzales Hills is a female mixed martial artist competing in the ONE Championship women’s atomweight division. Nicknamed “The Kilapino”, Hills has already appeared in two memorable bouts inside the ONE Championship cage. At her best, Hills is a well-rounded fighter with solid striking and grappling technique.

Stawweight bout: Nicolini vs. Mazepa


Women’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Michelle Nicolini is a 35-year-old mixed martial artist competing in the ONE Championship women’s strawweight division. An eight-time BJJ world champion and Hall-of-Famer, Nicolini’s elite grappling skills have brought her great success since transitioning to MMA, as she now owns a solid 3-1 professional record which includes two impressive submission victories. Nicolini made her ONE Championship debut last November, figuring in a first-round submission victory over Mona Samir. An extremely technical grappler, Nicolini recently relocated to Singapore to join the Evolve Fight Team. She is scheduled to take on Irina Mazepa in her next appearance.

Unbeaten 33-year-old fighter Irina Mazepa of St. Petersburg, Russia, is on an incredible run inside the ONE Championship cage. In her first two fights for the promotion, Mazepa defeated two of the most talented fighters in the strawweight division, dominating both Ann Osman of Malaysia and former boxing world champion Ana Julaton of the Philippines. A six-time wushu world champion and a K1 world champion kickboxer, Mazepa is set to make her highly-anticipated return to the ONE Championship cage to once again show off her devastating striking skills.

Strawweight bout: Catalan vs. Miado


26-year-old Robin Catalan of the Philippines is a member of the Catalan fighting family and a professional mixed martial artist competing in the ONE Championship strawweight division. He currently owns a record of five wins and two losses, which includes two wins by submission and two by knockout. In his last bout, Catalan made his ONE Championship debut, going head-to-head with top grappler Alex Silva of Evolve MMA. Now, the Filipino is set to make his second appearance, this time against compatriot Jeremy Miado.

Unbeaten Filipino strawweight prospect Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado of Manila is a professional mixed martial artist with an unblemished 6-0 record. After six straight victories, including two highlight-reel finishes, Miado is now ready to debut for Asia’s premier mixed martial arts organization. Excited to fight in front of his hometown crowd, Miado will step inside the ONE Championship cage for the first time.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Seeing Eduard Folayang push inspires Joshua Pacio

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Photo from ONE Championship

Every time Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (13-2) steps into the ONE Championship cage, it is in pursuit of a lifelong dream, one that he has had since a young boy growing up in Baguio City in the Philippines.

Having already conquered the Philippine and regional martial arts scenes, winning several titles along the way, only one target remains –- the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

The 22-year-old Team Lakay standout may be one of the younger competitors in the organization, but he has already emerged as a seasoned leader in one of the most well-respected gyms in Asia and could be the next martial arts superstar of the Philippines.

Ever since falling short in his bid to capture the ONE Strawweight World Championship title against then-titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito in October 2016, Pacio was a man on a mission to catapult himself back into title contention.

However, it was not a smooth path going back to the world title stage for Pacio as he has had a mixed run of results.

After a career-defining split decision win over former world champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in March, Pacio was then submitted by top Japanese prospect Hayato Suzuki in the first round of their recent August clash.

Although he managed to redeem himself by scoring a highlight-reel knockout of former boxing champion and compatriot Roy Doliguez this past November, Pacio still looks for consistency with regards to his performance inside the ONE Championship cage.

“It’s more about consistency.

“To be consistent inside the cage is what I am for at present. I have to win it all if I want to be back in the title contender’s position. A single loss could bring me back to square one. However, I am willing to work for it,” he said.

Despite the rough road back to vying for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, Pacio is inspired to embrace the grind as he witnessed Team Lakay’s elder statesman Eduard Folayang endured a tumultuous period of uncertainty in his martial arts career before becoming one of the brightest superstars and most beloved titleholders in ONE Championship history.

“Before he (Folayang) got the belt, he went through a lot of ups and downs in his career. He was beaten and was knocked out twice, but I saw the fight still burning in him,” he stated. “Now, he still goes to the gym and tries to get better and better every day.

“He taught me a lot about life and its spiritual side, and he taught me positive attitudes that will bring me up in my career.”

According to Pacio, it has been his mantra to turn his heartbreaking losses into lessons that would give him the fresh perspective to persevere and push forward until he achieves his goal.

“My two losses in my career made me realize just how much more I had to improve so that I can become a better martial artist,” he disclosed.

“I realized that there are a lot of holes in my game, and that the only way to get better is to recognize my weaknesses.”

His hunger to take things into another level showed in his most recent outing as he knocked out Doliguez in the second round with a spinning backfist last November.

Pacio has the chance to make it two in a row as he is set to duke it out with China’s Lan Ming Qiang on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on Friday, January 26.

Pacio was originally scheduled to square off with Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit in the co-main event, but the undefeated Thai was forced to withdraw from the contest just a week out from the bout due to injury.

Lan accepted the offer to step in for Mitsatit and face a former world title contender like Pacio in his promotional debut.

“I was excited about my bout with Pongsiri because it would have been a clash of the young guns. I am not disappointed because it is safety first. If I was the one sick or injured, I would not compete either, so I hope he recovers fast and gets back on track,” he shared.

“Lan Ming Qiang is my new opponent now, and I need to adopt quickly to his style. But our game plan is still the same, and I will execute that on 26 January.”

From Guangxi, China, Lan is a national sanda champion who trains alongside flyweight world title contender “The Southern Eagle” Ma Hao Bin at the Jincan Defense Club.

After a 16-2 Wushu Sanda record and several championship titles, the 24-year-old Chinese prodigy recently made his transition to the cage and already has a pair of stunning victories to his credit.

The opponent change has not affected Pacio or his training at Team Lakay, revealing that he will continue his normal preparation alongside head coach Mark Sangiao and his world-class teammates.

“The toughest thing about Lan’s skill set is his striking game, but I think I have competed against some of the best strikers in my division,” he stressed.

“I expect that Lan will be explosive and hungry, so I will stick to our game plan and get the win.”

For Pacio, his three-round cage encounter with Lan is an opportunity to build some momentum.

“I see this match as a very exciting one because I know we are both warriors, and I know we will put everything on the line on the 26th.”

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Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric

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Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young, and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another, as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26, as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured in a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after his three-bout winning streak was snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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Kairat Akhmetov looks to put decisive end to rivalry with Geje Eustaquio

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Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov has the chance to make a definitive statement and recapture lost gold as he is slated to take on a familiar foe in his upcoming bout.

Akhmetov (24-1) will be entering enemy territory to battle Filipino rival Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio (9-6) in the main event of ONE: Global Superheroes, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on Friday, January 26.

It is also a rematch of their main event tilt from ONE: Total Victory in September of last year, where Akhmetov got the better of the 28-year-old Baguio City native and earned a razor-thin split decision nod.

The stakes are much higher in their second encounter as the interim ONE Flyweight World Championship title is up for grabs.

The 30-year-old admitted that he was shocked when he initially received the news that he is booked to face Eustaquio in a rematch at Global Heroes — the 12th foray of the organization on Philippine shores.

After defeating Eustaquio four months ago, Akhmetov undeniably expected that he would be pitted in a rubber match with reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, the man who blemished his previously-immaculate professional record in their second meeting in August of last year.

“I was surprised,” the eight-year veteran bared. “Without question, I won the bout against Geje Eustaquio last September. At first, I thought that I would get a third bout with Adriano Moraes for the belt. I guess everything happens for a reason. I respect ONE Championship’s decision.

“I am just honoring the process.”

Even though Akhmetov did not get the trilogy bout that he desired, the Kazakh wrestling dynamo is up for the challenge, asserting that he is highly motivated to once again defeat Eustaquio in his own backyard.

“Of course, I would prefer not to compete against Geje in his hometown. I felt an advantage when I was competing at home before. But it does not intimidate me,” the Alash Pride-trained fighter stated. “I am ready for everyone that will cheer against me.

“I am coming with the mentality that it will be me versus the world, and I am ready for it.”

The maiden cage contest against Eustaquio was a quick turnaround for Akhmetov, who had lost the ONE Flyweight World Championship to Moraes a mere six weeks earlier via unanimous decision, albeit following an almost two-year layoff.

Akhmetov revealed that he had slight difficulties preparing for his first bout with Eustaquio as he was coming off a disappointing setback and nursing minor injuries.

“It was hard to prepare for Geje back then, because it was on shorter notice that I was used to, and I had some little injuries coming off the title match.

“But during the match, it did not affect me, and I did not feel any cage rust like I did against Adriano. That time, it was hard, both physically and mentally,” he said.

The first match-up between Akhmetov and Eustaquio proved to be a thriller as it could have gone either way, but two of the judges at cageside favored the Kazakh, leading to a split decision victory.

Akhmetov believes that his split decision triumph over Eustaquio in September of last year was justified and well-deserved.

“I do not think it was controversial. I thought I dominated the match, and it was not close at all,” he explained.

Although they have had 15 whole minutes to become acquainted with what each has to offer in the first bout, Akhmetov feels that things will play out differently in the rematch.

“Geje Eustaquio did not showcase everything he can do in our last match. Neither have I,” he warned. “I am going in there with what I am truly capable of.”

According to Akhmetov, his five-round championship clash versus Eustaquio is the perfect opportunity to prove once and for all that he is the better warrior and take a step closer to the trilogy match with Moraes that he so longingly wants.

“In 2017, I had ups and downs. I do not want to look back. In 2018, I am looking forward to reaching my dream to battle Adriano Moraes for the third time,” he declared.

“But of course, I have to beat Geje Eustaquio first to fulfill my dream.”

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