Once again, One Championship returned to the Philippines, as One: Dawn of Heroes went down at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila on Aug. 2, featuring a featherweight title fight as well as two former UFC champions punching their tickets to title fights in their new promotion.
The main event saw Martin Nguyen put his featherweight title on the line against Koyomi Matsushima. It took less than two rounds for “The Situ-Asian” (13-3) to add another title defense in his record. Throughout the fight, Matsushima tried valiantly to bring Nguyen to the ground, but the Australian’s takedown defense was too good, and in the meanwhile, Nguyen was finding his range on the feet. Late in the second round, Nguyen smacked Matsushima with a body kick, then stunned him with a short left to the jaw. A dazed Matsushima went down and Nguyen pounced, forcing the referee to stop the action at 4:40 after a series of unanswered follow-up punches.
In the MMA co-main event, former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (30-7, 1NC) took home his first victory in One Championship in a dramatic comeback. Taking on Eduard Folayang in the second One Championship Lightweight Grand Prix semifinal, Alvarez went down early in the first round when a vicious low kick buckled his knee. Alvarez managed to survive some vicious ground-and-pound from Folayang before sweeping his opponent, taking his back and locking a very slick rear-naked choke. Referee Olivier Coste called the stop at 2:16 mark of the first round. “The Underground King” will meet Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev in the grand prix final for the One lightweight belt.
In the second semifinal of One Championship’s Flyweight Grand Prix, former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (29-3-1) bested former Deep champion Tatsumitsu Wada via unanimous decision. However, Johnson’s win was not without adversity either, as he spent much of the first round with the much larger Wada glued to his back, even locking in a body triangle for a moment. The second and third rounds were much better for “Mighty Mouse,” who got the better of the ground exchanges in a grappling-heavy fight. With the win, Johnson advances to the final, where he is expected to take on Danny Kingad, who was victorious in the other semifinal earlier in the evening.
The main card wa scheduled to open with a heavyweight clash between former UFC contender Arjan Bhullar and Italy’s Mauro Cerilli, but the latter wasn’t cleared to fight due to a staph infection.
In the first MMA bout of the main card, Danny Kingad (11-1) defeated Reece McLaren via split decision and advanced to the finals of the flyweight grand prix, where he will take on Johnson on Oct.13 in Tokyo.