There were quite a few revelations and confirmations of rumors at the press conference held by One Championship at the City of Dreams Manila last April 17, ahead of their slated event for Heroes of Honor on April 20.
First among the confirmed lines of inquiry was about the change of combat environment for the fighters. Yes, the promotion is doing away with the cage for now to showcase the debut of their striking-only spinoff the ONE Superseries.
What does it mean? Simply that that all 11 bouts will happen inside the new five-rope ring, including those MMA bouts that are officiated under the organization’s Global Rule Set. For the striking competitions, the fighters will either use ten-ounce or eight-ounce boxing gloves depending on their weight class.
Before the end of the press conference, CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed plans to also establish a professional boxing league (which will be a different promotion altogether from the ONE Super Series kickboxing).
As Sityodtong invited the greatest boxers from the Philippines and around the world to join that promotion, he also unveiled updates to the launch of the company’s new mobile app, much like the UFC app, from the sound of the design and function.
Tonon, Vera, and Other Confirmations with Chatri
Chatting with Sityodtong further, he revealed the following plans for the promotion as well.
On the bantamweight title picture:
“Kevin [Belingon] is getting the next title shot after Bibiano [Fernandes] has rested.”
On Gary Tonon’s next fight:
“Gary [Tonon] will likely fight in July in Beijing next. He is a good friend of mine and we have very big plans for him. He did very well in his debut and he didn’t go for a single submission. You’d think as one of the greatest grapplers on the planet he’d go for a submission but he went for a knockout.”
On creating the One Superseries:
“We’ve already been toying with the idea for two or three years. Think about the verticals of martial arts as MMA, kickboxing, Muay Thai, boxing, submission grappling. Some of our great mixed martial artists like Geje Eustaquio and Eduard Folayang have great stand-up s well so they could easily be in One Superseries. So we’re dedicating a ring to all the great striking arts of the world while the cage is primarily going to be dedicated to mixed martial arts.”
On Brandon Vera defending his heavyweight title:
“I’m a huge fan of Brandon Vera but he’s also a huge celebrity. He’s got movie deals and plenty of other things on his plate like he’ll be getting married soon. I believe the global release of his movie is going to be in August. But please Brandon, man, get back in the cage. Let’s go!”
Grind of the Fighting Life with Andrew Leone
American grappling wunderkind Andrew Leone is up for title contention (very possibly) if he can get past the Team Lakay brawler Kevin Belingon.
This marquee match-up on April 20 will provide the eight-year MMA veteran a stage to state his case for title contention. While Leone challenged Bibiano Fernandes for the bantamweight title last August 2017, he did fall short and yielded to a first-round submission.
On fighting and running Bali MMA as a co-owner:
“I’m still learning to balance running a business like Bali MMA and with my fighting. I think that’s why I’ve been inconsistent the last two years because being a co-owner and bouncing back and forth between the two facilities I’ve had to learn how to divide my time effectively.”
On fighting in the main event for Heroes of Honor:
“I didn’t know it was the main event until they put out the press release. For me, it’s all a distraction, being in the main event. It comes down to a fight and it’s more of a distraction that you need to get away from to get your mind in focus. I think that’s where I went wrong in my last fight, I got distracted. Just for a moment. With [champion] Bibiano for a moment I kind of took it all in, the bright lights and everything. It’s never happened before. I’m going to learn from that.”
“I’m going to strike with [Kevin]. I’m obviously going to setup my grappling exchanges but it’s not going to come without strikes. And fighting in the ring has both its plus and negatives for both strikers and grappler, but I don’t believe it will affect the outcome of the fight.”
Quick Words with “The Silencer”
“The Silencer” Kevin Belingon from Baguio is currently at 17-5 and riding a four-fight win streak high. This kind of momentum has given the Team Lakay standout a confidence that should carry well into the new ring on Friday night.
This fight with a former bantamweight world title challenger like Leone has huge title implications that will definitely put the winner in title contention status. Belingon, like Leone, folded to the current champ Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes so we can expect it to be the kind of war that someone seeking closure for unfinished business will go for.
On taking on a grappler like Andrew Leone:
“I’m expecting Andrew to fake a punch or a kick and then he’ll go for the takedown. But I’ve trained hard for this and I have the counters.”
On fighting inside a ring instead of a cage:
“Sa tingin ko advantage ko ang ring, kasi dati lumalaban ako sa ganun. Nasanay na rin ako sa cage pero syempre ngayon ingat ingat kasi kapag na takdedown ka sa ring tapos nasa gilid di ka na maka depensa kasi hindi ka makasandal. Ang game plan doon dalhin ang laban sa gitna tapos tapusin ang laban sa striking.”
ONE Championship: Heroes of Honor will happen on Friday, April 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena.