BY DAN PAULO ERRAZO
The biggest stars of ONE: DAWN OF HEROES met centerstage to kick-off event week festivities ahead of the blockbuster card which takes place Friday, August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
The official press conference held at the City of Dreams Manila last Tuesday afternoon drew hundreds of fans and media who all came out to see athletes face off in intense staredowns.
With the biggest event in Philippine martial arts history, the massive press conference gave everyone in attendance a solid preview of what to expect when the lights dim and the action is about to explode.
To get the ball rolling, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong delivered a passionate speech about the highly-anticipated event that no Filipino in the world should miss.
“This is without a doubt the greatest event in Philippine martial arts history. If you are a Filipino anywhere in the world, you do not want to miss Friday night,” he said.
“On a personal note, I am so excited for Eduard Folayang versus Eddie Alvarez, genuinely two of the greatest martial artists on the planet, two incredible legends with storied careers, and such incredible human beings.”
Alvarez, a four-time lightweight mixed martial arts world champion, believes that is coming into this bout in the “bad guy” role, taking on Folayang, who is a beloved local sports hero.
“I respect Eduard. I respect everything he’s done not just as a fighter, but also as a human being for his community,” said Alvarez, who is looking to bounce back after coming up short in his ONE debut back in March.
“This is what this sport is all about. It’s beyond what goes on in the Circle.
“In the movies, heroes always prevail. The nemesis loses, he goes home and everybody’s happy. Unfortunately, that’s not the story here. You picked the wrong guy at the wrong time. I love you Manila. I respect you, Eduard. Let’s have some fun,” Alvarez added.
Folayang pointed out that he had moved on from losing the title last March and seems eager to finally share the stage with “The Underground King”, which has been a dream of his for the longest time.
“He’s one of those athletes that I spent a lot of time watching before,” said Folayang, who is also looking to get back on track.
“He says this isn’t the right time, but I believe it’s God’s time. It’s a huge honor for me to be able to test my skills against him.
“My preparations have gone well. I lost my belt last March, that chapter of my career has closed. It’s time to write another chapter of my journey,” Folayang continued.
Fans of mix martial arts are also looking forward to the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semi-final bout between the DEEP Flyweight Champion Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada from Japan and the 12-time flyweight world champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
“I’m very much looking forward to taking on Tatsumitsu Wada. It’s the second round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix,” said Johnson. “I’m sure I’m going to battle a little adversity against Tatsumitsu Wada. I’ve been down on the scorecards before, but I keep on pushing through. I look forward to entertaining you all on Friday night.”
Headlining of this stacked card will be between Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen who will be defending his ONE Featherweight World Champion against Japan’s Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima who climbed up to the top contender spot.
The co-main event shows a promising non-stop action match between the reigning and defending ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty as he faces the man he believes earned the right for a shot at his title, Thailand’s Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon.