Bibiano Fernandes Headlines ONE Championship’s Return To Macao

Bibiano Fernandes Headlines ONE Championship’s Return To Macao
PHOTO: Bibiano Fernandes Headlines ONE Championship’s Return To Macao

After a successful debut show in August 2016, ONE Championship (ONE) is set to make its return to The Venetian Macao on 5 August with ONE: KINGS AND CONQUERORS.

ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes (20-3) will put his title on the line against top contender Andrew Leone (8-2), in the main event of a stacked fight card.

“ONE Championship is thrilled to announce another amazing extravaganza at the world-class Cotai Arena in Macao,” said Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE, in a press release. “Our last show did extremely well to showcase our unique brand of world-class martial arts action, and we are excited to do it all over again this August.”

37-year-old Fernandes is the most dominant champion in the promotion. Having joined ONE in 2012 after winning the DREAM bantamweight title, Fernandes has gone on to author eight straight victories, and has remained unbeaten inside the ONE cage. He became ONE Bantamweight World Champion in 2013, and has since defended his belt successfully a total of five times.

In his most recent bout, Fernandes took on the toughest challenge of his career in young Australian Reece “Lightning” McLaren, which saw Fernandes having to dig deep and overcome a broken nose to earn a hard-fought split decision. This time, Fernandes is set to face American Andrew Leone.

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Leone, who is currently based in Indonesia running renowned gym Bali MMA with brother Anthony, is one of the organization’s top talents. He joined ONE in 2013, and has won all three of his bouts so far with the promotion, defeating top-caliber opponents including Geje Eustaquio and Koetsu Okazaki to earn a shot at Fernandes’ title.

The event will also feature the return of hard-hitting Russian Timofey Nastyukhin, (10-3) who unfortunately lost his most recent bout after suffering a mid-fight injury against Kotetsu Boku last November.

Nastyukhin, known as one of the most dangerous finishers in ONE Championship, co-owns the fastest knockout in ONE with his 6-second blitz of Rob Lisita, and has stopped opponents in all 10 of his wins thus far. He will look to keep that streak alive against Japan’s Koji Ando (12-5-2).

“The Commander” has had great success in dealing with hard hitters, and it will be interesting to see if Nastyukhin’s power is enough to offset Ando’s experience. Ando was last seen dropping a tough unanimous decision loss to Hawaiian Lowen Tynanes back in April of 2016. 

The Japanese warrior has faced the likes of Roger Huerta, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki, and former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa. 

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Returning to combat once again is flashy Thai striker, Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai (7-1, 1 NC) who is known for his unique fighting style called the “OneShin Striking System”. Wiratchai, who mixes various combat philosophies including boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is known for his creative striking combinations and entertaining walkouts to the cage.

Wiratchai will be facing veteran Australian “Ruthless” Rob Lisita (14-9). Although Lisita has lost four straight bouts, two of those losses were extremely close, and took an extraordinary amount of willpower for his opponents to claim victory. The 34-year old has shown incredible tenacity even in defeat, and it should be an exciting matchup against Wiratchai, who faces his toughest test to date.

Continuing his run at the top of the strawweight division is young Filipino warrior Joshua Pacio (9-1). The 21-year-old Pacio, who unsuccessfully challenged for the ONE Strawweight World Championship against titleholder Yoshitaka Naito in October 2016, is set to take on yet another Japanese veteran in unbeaten 30-year-old Hayato Suzuki (16-0-2). Pacio defeated former titleholder Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in March this year.

Suzuki, who has spent the majority of his martial arts career at home in Japan, is known as a well-rounded fighter with the ability to stop opponents both on the feet and on the ground. He will be making his ONE Championship debut in Macao.

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Making his highly-anticipated return to the ONE Championship cage is former top featherweight contender Eric “The Natural” Kelly of Baguio City, Philippines. Kelly (12-3), widely considered one of the best Filipino homegrown martial arts athletes in ONE, is on a recent skid, having lost his last two bouts for the promotion.

He will look to return to his winning ways against perennial competitor and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku (25-11-2) of Shizuoka, Japan. Boku, who held the lightweight title in 2013 before succumbing to the legendary Shinya Aoki, is currently enjoying much success at featherweight, falling only to Jadambaa last November.

In addition, Wiratchai’s romantic partner Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige (2-0) continues her tremendous 2017 run with another tough challenge against the Philippines’ Jomary Torres (1-0). 

Ishige, who is of mixed Japanese and Thai heritage, debuted for ONE earlier this year at home in Bangkok, and has since racked up two straight victories by spectacular finish. Both Ishige and Wiratchai love to put on a show for fans, with Ishige fast becoming one of the most exciting female stars in the promotion.

Also on the card is Malaysian athlete Saiful Merican (5-3) versus China’s “The Rock Man” Chen Lei (5-0); Marc Marcellinus (0-2) against promotional newcomer Tran Quang Loc of Vietnam; and former ONE Light Heavyweight Championship challenger Michal Pasternak (12-2), who goes head-to-head with former ONE Middleweight Championship challenger Leandro Ataides (9-3).

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