If it can be said of the ultimate proving grounds of combat sports, there is nothing more closely associated with a roped platform famously referred to as The Squared Circle. Many martial artists invested blood, sweat and tears within the four corners of the ring just to have their hand raised and become legends in their respective fields.
ONE Championship will be paying homage to the athletes who elevated combat sports to where it is today by having all bouts in its 13th venture on Philippine shores inside the promotion’s brand new five-rope ring. Aside from the marquee talents that will be featured at “ONE: Heroes of Honor” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines on April 20, 2018, the promotion will likewise introduce its new battlefield.
All 11 bouts at “ONE: Heroes of Honor” will be held inside the new ring, including bouts that are officiated under the organization’s Global Rule Set. For the first time in ONE Championship’s seven-year history, mixed martial arts contests will be held in the ring instead of in the cage.
Former world title contender Kevin Belingon, 30, who is slated to face Andrew Leone in the main event of “ONE: Heroes of Honor,” welcomes the promotion’s transition from cage to ring for its live event in Manila with open arms because during the early part of his career, he started out competing inside the ring. Representing Team Lakay of Baguio City, Belingon stated, “I was surprised when I found out that my next bout would take place inside the ring.”
“It brings a lot of memories because my first few fights were held inside the ring,” the Team Lakay fighter. “I have no problem of competing inside the ring again. I am always ready.”
According to Belingon, he has bigger chance to brandish a stand-up battle in his upcoming bout with Leone under such condition. The Baguio City resident explained, “Fighting inside the ring or cage is the same for me but for sure, I will use my experience inside the ring this coming April 20th.”
“I will make sure that the action stays at the center of the ring,” Belingon added. “If it stays there, it will be easier for me to dictate the pace of the bout.”
Meanwhile, Belingon’s fellow Team Lakay fighter Honorio Banario shared that some grappling techniques will be limited inside the ring. Banario, a former ONE Featherweight World Champion, pointed out, “There are some things that you can’t do inside the ring, especially in the grappling aspect of the fight.”
“The angles inside the ring are hugely different as you’re fighting within a square because the ropes bend more and the corners are harder to elude,” Banario said. “It’s challenging, but I like a challenge.”
Booked to square off with Australia’s Adrian Pang at “ONE: Heroes of Honor,” Banario bared that he made a few adjustments upon learning that his next assignment will be held inside the ring. The Filipino contender said, “The ring offers a whole slew of different variables that a cage concept cannot offer.”
“We made slight adjustments because since 2012, my bouts were held inside the cage but it’s fine with me,”Banario said. “The ring will allow me to strike more.”
Also making its debut at “ONE: Heroes of Honor” is the highly-anticipated ONE Super Series, a new iteration in ONE Championship’s efforts to bring martial arts to the forefront in mainstream culture. The premiere offering for Manila’s ONE Super Series is a three-round kickboxing encounter, featuring international superstar Giorgio Petrosyan of Italy who takes on “Smokin’” Jo Nattawut of Thailand.
In other ONE Super Series match-ups, celebrated Thai kickboxer Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is scheduled to duke it out with French-Italian dynamo Fabio Pinca in a three-round Muay Thai tussle. Elliot Compton shares the ring with Cosmo Alexandre in a Muay Thai clash, while Brad Riddell locks horns with Regian Eersel in a kickboxing bout.
ONE Super Series competitors will either use ten-ounce or eight-ounce boxing gloves depending on the weight of the athletes. Unlike its mixed martial arts counterpart, Muay Thai and kickboxing matches in ONE Super Series will be scored in a ten-point must system and will be contested in three three-minute rounds.
Watch the teaser for the ONE Super Series debut at “ONE: Heroes of Honor” here: