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Much awaited victory for “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman.-Pic courtesy of ONE Championship

MANILA: The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship (ONE), returned to a packed Mall of Asia Arena in Manila for the biggest martial arts event in Philippine history with ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.

Once again, the finest martial arts talents in the world came out to showcase their incredible skills.

And in what turned out to be a scintillating night of martial arts action, Malaysia’s own Muhammad “Jungle Cat” Aiman, who kicked off the action at ONE: Dawn of Heroes, brought home a much awaited victory for the country with his impressive unanimous decision victory over Indonesian veteran, “The Terminator” Sunoto. Looking lean and mean, Aiman was always a step ahead throughout the three-round bout as he out-struck and out-grappled Sunoto to walk away with the curtain-raising win.

The “Jungle Cat” unleashed.-Pic courtesy of ONE Championship

The Bali-based, Negeri-Sembilan native had been confident going into the clash and was looking forward to unleashing his sharpened arsenal of skills after being out of the ring for more than eight months. His last outing was back in November 2018 where he succumbed to a unanimous decision loss against Japan’s Shuya Kamikubo.

Returning to the drawing board in Bali’s surf haven of Canggu, the 24-year-old spent those precious months out focusing on developing his skills and working on his weaknesses with Bali MMA gym’s formidable team of coaches, who include head striking coach, Mike Ikilei and Malaysia’s top flyweight and fellow ONE Championship athlete, Gianni Subba. Looks like the brief hiatus has done wonders for Malaysia’s exciting young talent!

Meanwhile, other notable bouts from the night’s impressive card:

Martin Nguyen continues his reign.-Pic courtesy of ONE Championship

In the main event, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Australia and Vietnam continued his reign over the featherweight division with a second-round technical knockout victory over Japanese challenger Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima to retain the ONE Featherweight World Championship. Matsushima put the pressure on Nguyen early in the opening round with his solid ground game. The champion was able to make the necessary adjustments in the second round, however, as he picked apart a tired Matsushima with a barrage of strikes to get the stoppage win and successfully defend his title for a third time.

Thailand’s Rodtang was too powerful for England’s Haggerty.-Pic courtesy of ONE Championship

In the co-main event, Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon of Thailand dethroned English striking sensation Jonathan “The General” Haggerty via unanimous decision to become the new ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion. Haggerty utilised his length in the early going, using front kicks to keep the challenger at bay. Rodtang picked up steam in the succeeding rounds and managed to drop Haggerty twice. After five rounds of explosive action, it was Rodtang who walked away with the victory and the prestigious ONE World Title.

The “Underground King” Alvarez gets his first win under the ONE banner.-Pic courtesy of ONE Championship

In the much awaited ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-finals, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez of the United States recorded his first victory under the ONE banner with a rear naked choke of former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the Philippines. Folayang attacked Alvarez with a blitz of strikes to open the contest and a low kick brought “The Underground King” to the mat. Alvarez, however, was able to sweep Folayang to wind up in mount. From there, Alvarez took Folayang’s back, fished for the submission, and forced the tap.

In the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-finals, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson of the United States outlasted Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada of Japan to take home a three-round unanimous decision. After a brief exchange on the feet in the first round, Wada was able to take Johnson to the mat and secure his back. Johnson, however, defended very well. Action continued in the second round with the American dominating the grappling exchanges. In the third and final round, Johnson appeared to have Wada figured out and took control of the bout to cruise to a unanimous decision victory.

Filipino flyweight star Danny “The King” Kingad secured his spot in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Finals with a split decision win over Australian Reece “Lightning” McLaren. Kingad survived a number of precarious situations in the first two rounds to rally back in the final round. In the last two minutes of the bout, Kingad dominated a fading McLaren as he was able to land a couple of takedowns and unload some ground-and-pound to swing the decision in his favour. “The King” is now one win away from becoming the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion.

Muay Thai star Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym of Thailand opened the main card in spectacular fashion with a third round knockout victory over Andrew “Maddog Fairtex” Miller of Scotland. Rodlek overcame Miller’s significant height and reach advantage as he out-struck his foe in the first two rounds of action. In the opening minute of the final round, the Thai star dropped Miller with a short right elbow followed by a knee to score the stoppage win.

For details on the night’s other action, go to

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