It was an explosive 2021 for ONE Championship and the results of this year’s contests are creating some excellent storylines for 2022.
In the previous 12 months, fans saw ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio end a trilogy in style; had their hearts broken with some tough losses; and saw a glimpse of the future with dazzling debuts.
That said, here are five dream matches for Filipino stars in 2022.
Sure, many people – including guys from Team Lakay – believe that the #1-ranked Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane deserves a shot at Pacio, and with good reason.
But a Pacio—Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks match-up is the money fight, and it would be a delight to see this clash.
After all, the American made his intentions known that he’s gunning for Pacio before beating the world champion’s teammate – Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang – months later.
With Pacio ending his rivalry with Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta impressively, it’s time for him to move on to bigger challenges. And a feud with Brooks would give him his next great test.
Denice Zamboanga vs. Ham Seo Hee II
Perhaps the most disappointing and controversial defeat for Filipino fans was that of Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga during the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal against “Arale Chan” Ham Seo Hee.
“Unstoppable” Angela Lee will defend her ONE Atomweight World Title against Stamp Fairtex sometime next year. Given that, it would be nice to see them rematch, given that they won’t have anything on their plate soon.
This bout could also be a world championship eliminator between two Grand Prix favorites who have legitimate title opportunity claims. Zamboanga earned a shot at Lee before the latter’s maternity break; meanwhile, Ham went undefeated in the tournament.
Filipino fans can’t get enough of Stephen “The Sniper” Loman after his first-round KO win over #3-ranked bantamweight Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II.
Seeing him against another ranked contender in Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade would make perfect sense.
After all, ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes will defend his title against #1-ranked contender John “Hands of Stone” Lineker. The Team Lakay mainstay could benefit from another match before going to talks for a title opportunity.
Loman himself said that he feels like he’s one more match away from a world title shot. A clash against the 3-0 Andrade would further cement his claim as the next worthy challenger.
It’s back to the drawing board for both fighters, and a clash between these two freakish strawweight athletes will be entertaining.
It also makes sense for their respective careers as a win for Adiwang could put him back in the top contender rankings. Meanwhile, a victory for Saruta ensures that he keeps his place among the best.
“Thunder Kid” himself asked for this match, and with Saruta falling behind other world title hopefuls, 2022 could be the year they meet.
Denice Zamboanga vs. Angela Lee
While all four previously mentioned above are tantalizing match-ups, a potential clash between Zamboanga and Lee would be the biggest match for Philippine mixed martial arts next year.
It’s a long shot, considering both female competitors must win their subsequent assignments for their encounter to happen. Lee will face Stamp, while Zamboanga doesn’t have anything on her schedule yet.
But if this match pushes through, it would be an easy sell because there’s no love lost between the two ladies. Zamboanga was named the top contender and in line for a title opportunity when Lee took a maternity break.
It’s got the elements of an entertaining showdown, pitting together two combatants who are in peak form and dislike each other.
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