There may not be any Filipinos competing this Friday, August 21, at ONE: No Surrender III, but some of the country’s biggest stars are still looking forward to the card in Bangkok, Thailand.
Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio and rising strawweight stud Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan will be glued to their TV screens — especially for the main event, which features two of the seven World Champions competing that night.
“The Million Dollar Baby” Sangmanee Klong SuanPluResort battles “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai in the semifinals of the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament, where the winner will move on to face Saemapetch Fairtex in the finale.
Whoever survives the tournament will then challenge reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao sometime in the future.
Eustaquio favors the seven-time Muay Thai World Champion in this match, citing familiarity and experience in competing under the ONE Super Series banner as Sangmanee’s advantage.
“I think Sangmanee will win this fight,” Eustaquio said.
“I am not that familiar with his foe, but for me, his advantage is his age. I think he’s ripe for stardom and confidence plays a big role in each fight,” he added.
“Sangmanee has been with ONE longer, so he’s more familiar with the organization — I think that’s a big factor in this match.”
For Catalan, Sangmanee’s Muay Thai craftsmanship could ultimately make the difference that night, but the IFMA Muay Thai World Champion admits that people may see a few surprises from Kulabdam.
“I know Sangmanee is a very strong athlete and he’s very crafty in the ring, but I don’t know what to expect from Kulabdam,” he said.
After three events bannered by ONE Super Series bouts, the question at hand is why are there no Filipinos competing on the prestigious striking stage? Catalan believes it’s all about commitment, and he expects more of the country’s athletes to represent ONE’s all-striking division soon.
“It won’t be long,” Catalan said.
“I know we haven’t seen a Filipino in ONE Super Series since Ryan Jakiri lost, but maybe we just have to build more on striking fundamentals. And maybe one day we’ll see more fighters in the Super Series.”
Watch ONE: NO SURRENDER III this Friday, 21 August, on One Sports, One Sports+, or the ONE Super App at 8:30 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (PHT). Also, TV5 will air the event on a next-day delay at 11 p.m. PHT.
Read More From ONE Championship: