August 2 will definitely be a night to remember for the Philippines.
During that day, ONE Championship will hold Dawn of Heroes. And with the way the card is shaping up to be, it has the potential to be one of the deepest martial arts cards the country has ever seen.
The co-main event of the evening will feature a dream match pitting former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang going up against ex-UFC World Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez.
Born in Baguio City, Folayang joined the Philippines Wushu Team and won several gold medals to become a national hero. “Landslide” then transitioned to mixed martial arts under the instruction of Mark Sangiao at Team Lakay, and captured a Filipino Welterweight Championship in his June 2007 debut. Folayang made his promotional debut in the main event of ONE Championship’s inaugural show in September 2011.
Five years later, he returned to Singapore to capture the ONE Lightweight World Title, defeating the legendary Shinya Aoki. After losing the title, and then regaining it once more, Folayang defended the belt last March in a rematch with the Japanese warrior. The Filipino, unfortunately, fell via first round submission.
Up next for Folayang is perhaps the most difficult test of his career in the form of lightweight great Alvarez.
Alvarez is not just an incredibly exciting martial artist – he is also the only man in history to have claimed World Titles in both of North America’s leading promotions. Now that he is on the global stage, he is intent on cementing his status as an all-time great by capturing the ONE Lightweight World Championship to become the first man to conquer the three largest organizations on the planet.
He hit a stumbling block in his ONE Championship debut, however, when he ran into Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. Now Alvarez is on the comeback trail and will need to defeat Filipino icon Folayang if he hopes to reinvigorate his chances at the ONE World Title.
Also set to take place in Manila are the semifinals bouts in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
Danny “The King” Kingad goes up against former ONE World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov of Kazakhstan.
Kingad is from Sadanga in the Mountain Province, but he went to school in Baguio. He began training in wushu at the famed Team Lakay in 2012, and went on to win gold medals in several local tournaments. Inspired by the success of his esteemed teammates such as former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, he then turned his attention to the cage. Kingad made a successful start to his professional career in 2014, debuting with ONE Championship on the way to an impressive 8-0 record.
This earned him a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship against Adriano Moraes, but the Igorot warrior, unfortunately, failed in his first bid at World Title glory.
Now, “The King” is back on the title hunt but will have to get past former champion Akhmetov in order to clinch a tournament finals berth.
In the other bracket, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson takes on Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada of Japan.
Also taking place in the event is the semifinals bout in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
Team Lakay’s Honorio Banario will step up for the injured Lowen Tynanaes to take on Timofey Nastyukhin.
The main event of the evening will see ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty of the United Kingdom defending his crown against Rodtang “Iron Man” Jitmuangnon of Thailand.
Other announced bouts include Reece McLaren versus Yuya Wakamatsu, Leandro Issa versus Daichi Takenaka, Ayaka Miura versus Samara Santos, and Neunglanlek Jitmuangnon versus Chris Shaw.