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Mixed Martial Arts

Is Conquest of Champions the best Philippine card ever?

ONE Championship will hold its 15th show in the Philippines on Friday, November 23 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Headlining the card is Brandon Vera, who is making his return to the cage after a two year absence. In his second title defense of the ONE Heavyweight World Championship, he will face Cage Warriors Heavyweight Champion Mauro Cerilli.

Then in the co-main event, Eduard Folayang looks to become the first-ever two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion. But in order to do that, he has to best Amir Khan for the vacant crown.

On any other night, the Folayang-Khan bout is good enough to carry the card. But not this time.

Also in the card are local heroes Honorio Banario, Rockie Bactol, and Jeremy Miado. Moreover, the stacked card will have a heavyweight clash in the prelims, two muay thai bouts, and two kickboxing matches.

With this, a question was raised. Is this the best-ever martial arts card built for Philippine soil?

“These are two of the greatest Filipino martial artists ever – one is a world champion, the other is a former world champion – and the two of them are the biggest faces here,” said ONE Championship Chief Finance Officer Hua Fung Teh, referring to Vera and Folayang.

A lot of ONE’s cards in the Philippine have been stacked to the core as well.

Their first foray in the Philippines back in 2012 featured Bibiano Fernandes, Eduard Folayang, Eric Kelly, and Honorio Banario. UFC vets Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, and Phil Baroni were also part of the card. Moreover, two Gracies fought in the event as well.

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In May of 2013, five Team Lakay fighters were part of Rise to Power. Again, Fernandes was on the card, while former UFC vet Kamal Shalorus made his debut against Folayang.

ONE’s year-end show in 2014 was deep as well. The card was headlined by Fernandes, while Brandon Vera made his promotional debut in the co-main event. Folayang, Belingon, and Banario were part of the undercard, and Roger Gracie and Ana Julaton completed the stacked event.

In 2015, the Ultimate Fighting Championship made its only show in the Philippines with Fight Night 66. Headlining the card was a dream match pitting Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber. Fil-Am Mark Munoz had his farewell bout in the third to the last bout of the evening while serving as co-main event were Gegard Mousasi and Costas Philippou. Phillipe Nover, Mark Eddiva, and Roldan Sangcha-an added local flavor.

Fast forward to 2018, ONE’s second Manila show delivered the goods as well. Besides having Belingon and Banario in the main and co-main event, the event marked the debut of the Super Series. And what better way to introduce the new concept than with Georgio Petrosyan and Nong-o Gaiyanghadao – two of the very best in kickboxing and muay thai, respectively.

ONE upstaged that three months later with Reign of Kings. Headlining the card was Belingon versus two-division champion Martin Nguyen. Also part of the card were legends Shinya Aoki, Renzo Gracie, Yuki Kondo, and Folayang.

Safe to say, Conquest of Champions has the potential to trump all of these cards.

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“I will say this, we’ve never had an event that sees both of them competing for world titles at the same time, so from that respect, yes, it would be the biggest card from ONE Championship in Manila ever,” Teh said.

And the only thing left to decide if this is the best-ever is if the fighters will deliver.

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