Asia’s leading mixed martial arts promotion, ONE Fighting Championship, yesterday announced the main events for its next stellar fight night, ONE FC: Rise to Power, which returns to Manila on May 31.
The card, in association with Universal Reality Combat Championship, will be headlined by the highly anticipated first title defence of ONE FC Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario of the Philippines, who faces Japanese submiss-ion specialist Koji Oishi.
A sellout crowd is expected to fill the 20,000-seat SM Mall of Asia stadium to watch their hometown hero in action.
In the co-main event, pound-for-pound king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes make his return to the famed ONE FC cage when he squares off against Japanese MMA sensat-ion Koetsu Okazaki for the ONE FC Bantamweight Interim Title.
“ONE FC will be back in the fight capital of Asia on May 31 with a stacked fight card that is sure to get the adrenalin pumping for passionate Filipino fight fans,” said ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui said in a press release.
“This event could possibly be the largest in ONE FC’s history and features the top names in MMA, headlined by ONE FC Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario. Having one of the greatest fighters on earth fighting on this card in Manila is sure to be a special night for MMA.”
Banario, rated one of the best MMA fighters in the world, is a member of the legendary Team Lakay, where he trains alongside fellow ONE FC brawlers Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon under the guidance of head coach Mark Sangiao.
Banario comes from a wushu background but, despite his striking credentials, five of his eight wins have come via submissions.
The 23-year-old captured the ONE FC crown when he defied all odds by defeating compatriot Eric Kelly by TKO at February’s Return of Warriors event in Kuala Lumpur.
His opponent Oishi is a 35-year-old Japanese MMA veteran and former Lightweight King of Pancrase.
Coming from a wrestling and karate background, he is re-nowned for leaving everything on the line in bouts against some of the best in the business including Chris Lytle, Carlos Condit and both of the Diaz brothers.
ONE FC bantamweight world champion Soo Chul Kim of South Korea is undergoing shoulder surgery and will be out of action for an indefinite period, so ONE FC officials have decided an interim bantamweight title will be introduced until Kim is ready to make a comeback.
Fernandes has a never-ending gas tank, explosive take-downs and lighting-fast strikes that have won him a huge fan base among Asian and international fans.
“The Flash” made his ONE FC debut last August at the Pride of a Nation event in Manila, where he defeated Australian/Brazilian journeyman Gustavo Falciroli via a unanimous decision.
In his nine years in MMA, Fernandes has fought countless Japanese fighters, but will have one of his toughest tests when he battles Okazaki, one of the most experienced fighters in the division.
Okazaki, 33, is a tenacious competitor who is known to never back down. He specialises in submissions, but is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone if that is what it takes to win.
Okazaki knows that a win over Fernandes will gain him the global recognition he deserves and the ONE FC title belt around his waist.