Historic ONE: Dawn of Heroes card 'ONE's gift' to the Philippines, says champ Brandon Vera
Santino Honasan on Jul 26, 2019 11:14 AM
“I think it’s [ONE’s] way of letting [the fans] know, letting ang ating mga kababayan sa buong mundo, especially dito sa ating bansa know that martial arts is here to stay, martial arts is serious business, especially dito sa Pilipinas.” - Brandon Vera
ONE Championship’s hot streak of massive events in 2019 continues when they head to Manila for the third time this year for ONE: Dawn of Heroes.
Set to take place at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, August 2nd, ONE: Dawn of Heroes features some of the biggest names one ONE’s roster for another action-packed night of fights.
Headlining the card will be a pair of world title bouts, with Vietnamese-Australian star Martin Nguyen defending his ONE Featherweight World Championship against Japanese contender Koyomi Matsushima, and Jonathan Haggerty of the United Kingdom putting his ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship against Thailand’s Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
For the Pinoy crowd however, the main event will definitely be the ONE Lightwieght World Grand Prix semifinal bout between Filipino mixed martial arts hero and former two-time ONE Lightwieght World Champion Eduard Folayang of Team Lakay and multiple-time lightweight world champion Eddie Alvarez of the United States.
Also on the card will be long-time flyweight world champion Demetrious Johnson, as well as four other members of Team Lakay in former titleholders Geje Eustaquio and Honorio Banario, featherweight contender Edward Kelly, and ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinalist Danny Kingad.
Looking at the other big cards that ONE has put on this past year, this Manila card is easily comparable to ONE: A New Era, their Tokyo debut card back in March, that also featured Folayang, Johnson, Alvarez, and Kingad among others.
One of the people most excited about the card, interestingly enough, is one that isn't even on it: none other than reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera.
“I think it’s exactly almost like the Tokyo card,” said Vera. They basically brought the Tokyo card, redid it, and brought it to Manila. Ang ganda.”
For the heavyweight king who proudly represents the Philippines every time he enters the ONE cage, ONE: Dawn of Heroes is something of a gift for the Filipino fans, who are some of the most passionate fight fans, not just in Asia, but in the world.
“I think, parang nag-bibigay ang ONE Championship ng regalo sa Pilipinas,” Vera stated. “I think it’s [ONE’s] way of letting [the fans] know, letting ang ating mga kababayan sa buong mundo, especially dito sa ating bansa know that martial arts is here to stay, martial arts is serious business, especially dito sa Pilipinas.”
Since they opened their doors back in 2011, ONE has always seen the Philippines as one of the main markets of martial arts in Asia. ONE’s first show in Manila was their fourth-ever event.
Seven years later, Manila hosts four ONE shows a year and stands as one of ONE’s most frequently-visited places in Asia.
“I know that we don’t talk about it in the matrix and all the numbers that Mr. Chatri and everyone talks about, but if you travel with ONE Championship and you get to see the events, between the Philippines and Myanmar, because Myanmar is where Aung La N Sang comes from, these two places are the most loud, the most live, and the most packed stadiums on the roster,” Vera explained.
What makes the Philippines a passionate mixed martial arts fanbase, Vera explains, is how the people share in the dream of the athletes and the competitors they see in the cage.
Champions like Vera, Folayang, Eustaquio, Banario, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio have all reached star status in the country because of their success inside the ONE cage.
“It’s not just about sport, it’s about a dream. It’s about a dream in the Philippines, and everyone here, dito sa ating bansa, they share it with you,” Vera added. “This is what martial arts is supposed to be about.”
With Nguyen, Haggerty, Folayang, Alvarez, Johnson, Eustaquio, and Banario on the card among others, ONE: Dawn of Heroes likely puts together the biggest collection of world champions ever seen on one single event on Philippine soil.
“This is a super…I don’t know what you could call this, parang SuperBowl, or playoffs, super card, super event? I don’t know how to say it, kasi the Philippines has never seen anything like this before,” Vera said. “No one has brought anything like this to the Philippines before, in terms of sports, in terms of martial arts, so this is a first.”
“This is history. Ang ganda, grabe! The names on the card, man!” Vera concluded.
Vera is also getting ready for a big event of his own, as he is set to challenge Aung La N Sang for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan this coming October.
Catch ONE: Dawn of Heroes on Friday, August 2nd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. You can also catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23.