ONE Championship have announced the promotion’s first live event in Tokyo, Japan, scheduled for 31 March 2019. Media from all across the globe gathered to participate in the Press Conference, which was led by Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, Chatri Sityodtong.
After an impressive victory in his first appearance inside the ONE Championship cage last January in Manila, Muay Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is ready to return to action, this time to compete for the inaugural ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Championship.
The 34-year-old Gaiyanghadao boasts an impressive 365-46-9 overall professional Muay Thai record and has won the prestigious Lumpinee Stadium championship on multiple occasions, as well as capturing the Thailand Super Flyweight, Super Bantamweight, and Bantamweight Championship.
When asked how much the ONE Super Series title means to him, Gaiyanghadao offered a simple response.
“Even though I have won many Muay Thai world championships, I am still very excited about the chance to win the ONE Championship belt,” said Gaiyanghadao.
“I am thankful that ONE Championship has chosen me to take part in the first world title fight for ONE Super Series. I will do my best to make my family, my fans, and all of Thailand proud.”
The Muay Thai legend returns to action this Friday night, 18 May at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, in the co-main event of ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS opposite Sergio “Samurai” Wielzen of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The winner will crown the first-ever ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Champion.
Competing in Thailand’s largest and most prestigious arenas has been a staple for Gaiyanghadao ever since he began training as a young boy at the family farm. Known for his high octane fighting style, Gaiyanghadao is widely-regarded as one of the biggest stars in Muay Thai history. But despite his lofty credentials and extensive experience, Gaiyanghadao isn’t planning on taking Wielzen lightly.
“My opponent for this fight is very strong,” Gaiyanghadao said.
“He is experienced, and has a lot of power. I am not taking this fight lightly, and I am fully focused. I do not have a particular game plan. As always, I will go in and see how the fight develops. It is going to be a fun fight.”
With over 20 years in professional experience, Gaiyanghadao has competed against some of the biggest names in Muay Thai such as Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Pornsanae Sitmonchai, Penek Sitnumnoi, Petchboonchu FA Group, and Singtongnoi Por Telakun, among others. Today, he is a well-respected coach at Singapore’s renowned Evolve gym.
If he can defeat Wielzen in Singapore, Gaiyanghadao will be crowned the first ONE Super Series world champion in history, which certainly adds to his already impressive credentials as a world-class athlete.
“I am in the best shape of my life, and I feel great. I am faster, stronger, and more experienced. It is going to be an exciting contest for sure, but I am looking to end it quickly,” Gaiyanghadao concluded.
ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS will also feature reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee as she defends her title against Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi of Japan in a highly-anticipated rematch. In the evening’s other co-main event, ONE Featherweight & Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen defends his featherweight title against rising star Christian “The Warrior” Lee.
The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), recently held a press conference and face-off ahead of ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS. The press event took place on Monday, 14 May at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
In addition to intense face-offs between athletes competing on Friday night, ONE Championship also took the time to further announce their partnership with Grab Singapore, as well as the launch of its new ONE Championship mobile app, available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.
The new ONE Championship mobile app aims to provide millions of martial arts fans around the world with access to every ONE Championship live event, as well as the complete library of digital content — all free. Content will stream in Full HD and will also provide users with statistical information and a detailed background on their favorite ONE Championship superstars.
In attendance at the press conference were Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship Chatri Sityodtong, reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, her opponent Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi, ONE Featherweight & Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, his opponent Christian “The Warrior” Lee, Muay Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, his opponent Sergio “Samurai” Wielzen, and Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex.
Ticket information for ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS is available at http://www.onefc.com.
Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, stated: “It is my honor and my pleasure to see some of the greatest martial artists on the planet compete in ONE Championship. The thing that makes ONE Championship different from any other organization in the world, is that we want to build and unleash martial arts superheroes to ignite the world with inspiration, hope, dreams, strength, and courage. Our heroes are role models not only in the cage, but also outside the cage. On Friday, we are one with Singapore in celebrating the beauty of martial arts as we have prepared the very best match lineup for the delight of our Singaporean audience and the rest of the world. This historic event will be seen around the globe as it will be aired by the biggest television networks across Asia and the world. It will also be available for free through the ONE Super App. Witnessing a great display of martial arts action is now at your fingertips.”
Angela Lee, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion, stated: “Coming back to Singapore ready to defend my title, it’s a familiar feeling. At the same time, it feels new to me, after everything. It’s like a new beginning. I am excited to put in the best performance of my life and remind the world who I am as a fighter, as a martial artist, and as a world champion. I have missed the competition, the lights, the spectacle, and everything that comes with it. I live for this.”
Mei Yamaguchi, ONE Athlete, stated: “Two years ago, Angela and myself put on a tremendous show for fans in Singapore, and we’re ready to do it again. I respect Angela as an athlete and as a person, but I’m ready to give this bout my all. I am not the same martial artist as I was two years ago. I’ve made some key improvements to my game and I am excited to show everyone what I have worked so hard for.”
Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, ONE Athlete, stated: “Competing in front of a packed arena, to an audience of millions around the world — it was such a surreal experience for me the first time I stepped into the ONE Championship cage. I can still remember the feeling like it was yesterday. Thank you ONE Championship for the opportunity to compete for the world title, I am truly honored and will make everyone proud.”
Sergio Wielzen, ONE Athlete, stated: “Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is a legend in Muay Thai, and it is such an honor for me to be competing against him. I have so much respect for what he has done and what he has accomplished. But once that cage door closes, I am only focused on one thing and that’s winning this bout. I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to get the victory and become the first ONE Super Series world champion.”
Martin Nguyen, ONE Featherweight & Lightweight World Champion, stated: “Christian is a good kid and he has come a long way, but it is my time now. This bout is going to end only one way, and that’s with him finishing me or me finishing him. We are both explosive and skilled, so I don’t see this bout going the distance. I will defend my featherweight belt and prove to the world once again that I am the best in this division.”
Christian Lee, ONE Athlete, stated: “All my life, all the hard work I have put into training, all the fights, they have all led me to this moment right here. I have waited long enough for this title shot, and I am prepared to leave it all inside the cage this Friday night. I have learned and improved a lot since our last match. Things will end differently this time around. Martin is a tremendous athlete and a noble warrior, but I am coming to take away the belt.”
Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, ONE Athlete, stated: “I am thrilled for the opportunity to compete in the ONE Super Series. Throughout my career, I have seen many opponents and had so many experiences. Now I am ready to take this next step into my career and compete under a new beginning. This is a chance for me to showcase my skills to the world, and to show fans the beauty of Muay Thai.”
21-year-old “Unstoppable” Angela Lee of Singapore is considered one of ONE Championship’s most outstanding athletes. She captured the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship with an awe-inspiring victory over Mei Yamaguchi in 2016, and has since then defended the title successfully on two occasions. Lee’s beautiful combination of elite striking and grappling has proven to be a potent formula for success, as she has remained unbeaten in her career. In the most recent bout of an impressive run, Lee dominated top contender Istela Nunes, showcasing her wide array of skills. She is widely-considered on a global scale to be one of the biggest names actively competing in the sport. She is set to defend her title next against Yamaguchi in a rematch.
35-year-old Japanese martial arts veteran Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi is a female atomweight standout and a former ONE world title challenger from Tokyo. She is the DEEP Jewels Featherweight Champion, and owns seven submissions and two knockouts in her 28-bout professional career. In 2016, Yamaguchi challenged Angela Lee for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship in an epic showdown that would later win multiple ‘Bout of the Year’ honors from international media publications. In her last outing, Yamaguchi thoroughly defeated Gina Iniong of the Philippines to win impressively by unanimous decision after three rounds. Yamaguchi is now set to take on champion Angela Lee in a highly-anticipated rematch.
34-year-old Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is a Muay Thai legend and multiple-time Lumpinee Stadium world champion who is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. As a Muay Thai practitioner, Sam-A owns a record of 364-46-9, and was known for his strong defense and counter offense. An instructor at Evolve in Singapore and a member of the prestigious Evolve Fight Team, Sam-A made his first ONE Championship appearance last January against Joseph Lasiri in the first-ever Muay Thai bout inside the ONE Championship cage. Sam-A is set to lock horns with Sergio Wielzen, whom he will compete against for the inaugural ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Championship.
Lion Fight Muay Thai World Lightweight Champion, Sergio “Samurai” Wielzen of Suriname is a Dutch-based martial artist training out of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. With a professional kickboxing record of 45-18-2, Wielzen has built a reputation as being an explosive striker with stunning knockout power. Despite being physically smaller than most of his opponents, Wielzen has won many of his bouts by knockout. He is also a former It’s Showtime 61MAX world champion. Wielzen is set to make his ONE Super Series debut opposite Muay Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao.
29-year-old Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen is one of the most highly-regarded martial arts champions in the world. With an impressive 10-2 professional record, which includes three submissions and seven knockouts, Nguyen’s all-around skill set allows him to perform at the highest level of competition. All of Nguyen’s wins have come by exciting finish. Last November, Nguyen scored a scintillating knockout victory over the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang to become the first man in the history of ONE Championship to hold two titles simultaneously in different weight divisions, reigning as both ONE Featherweight & Lightweight World Champion. In his last bout, Nguyen figured in a historic showdown with ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes in Bangkok. Nguyen now makes a quick turnaround however, jumping right back into action as he defends his featherweight title against Christian Lee.
19-year-old Christian “The Warrior” Lee, younger brother of reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, began his professional career on an absolute tear, railing off five straight victories by thrilling finish. He has impressed fans with his ability to seek out stoppage wins over top-caliber opponents featuring an exciting fan-friendly style. A former Pankration World Champion, Lee toppled Japanese veteran Kazunori Yokota in his most recent bout, winning via second-round guillotine choke to improve his record to 9-1. Riding an impressive four-bout winning streak with all four wins coming by finish, Lee is set to showcase his skills once more inside the ONE Championship cage. In his next bout, Lee has the chance to become a world champion when he challenges Martin Nguyen, the only man to ever defeat him, for the ONE Featherweight World Championship.
32-year-old Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex is one of the most recognizable names in the world of Muay Thai. Known by the moniker “The Boxing Computer” as a testament to his impeccable in-ring techniques, he has won numerous championships in his stellar kickboxing career, including the WBC Super Welterweight Muay Thai World Championship and the coveted Lumpinee Stadium World Championship. Yodsanklai will face Chris Ngimbi in his ONE Super Series debut.
The life of a martial arts legend is never easy as the path to greatness is typically laden with a myriad of seemingly impossible challenges. For multiple-time Muay Thai world champion Singtongnoi Por Telakun, the hardships came early in life.
Growing up in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, he was raised in extreme poverty and experienced the trials and tribulations of going through day-to-day life with very little. The grim reality became the driving force to dig his family out of the trenches and pursue martial arts in the hopes of a brighter future.
“I would help out around the house to lighten my parents’ workload. After that, I trained hard every single day. It was tiring and torturous, I wanted to quit, but I thought about my future and the people that I love. I couldn’t quit. I had to fight for the people that I love,” he recalled.
Despite the financial obstacles, Singtongnoi still found a way to train and maximize the resources that he had back then.
“I would train at home, kicking an old sack of rice filled with sand. I also trained at the local sala with the other children,” he shared.
The kind of dedication that he exhibited soon became synonymous with the type of work ethic Singtongnoi showcased as an elite athlete. With determination and dedication, success was something that he would build with his own two hands as Singtongnoi became one of the most popular Muay Thai practitioners in Thailand, winning numerous prestigious titles throughout his celebrated career such as the Lumpinee Muay Thai world championship.
Famous for his relentless style in the ring, Singtongnoi has beaten some of Thailand’s biggest Muay Thai superstars, having 300 professional bouts under his belt.
Things took a turn for the worse when his Muay Thai career came to an end, and he had to go back to selling goat milk to make ends meet. Fortunately, Singtongnoi received an offer to join the Evolve MMA in Singapore as an instructor, and since then, he had been able to support his family.
Just when things started to look promising in the life of Singtongnoi, a devastating news came his way, revealing that he was diagnosed with stage three cancer.
“I was stunned and I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I started to cry. I was in disbelief. I thought I was going to die for sure. The cancerous tumor was about two centimeters long. It went through my whole nasal cavity, all the way down to the lymph nodes in my neck,” Singtongnoi described.
Singtongnoi had to undergo several medical procedures in Singapore to treat his severe condition.
“After undergoing the radiation therapy and chemotherapy, my throat hurt and I had burns from the radiation all over my neck. It was hard for me to walk and all I wanted to do was throw up,” he bared.
With his teammates, friends and family by his side, Singtongnoi persevered through all the bleak thoughts and negative feelings with every fiber of his being. Receiving the best treatment possible, it all paid off months later when the doctor told him that he is cancer-free.
“I was ecstatic,” he recollected. “I could once again see a bright future for myself and my family. “It’s important to love yourself and take care of your loved ones, as you don’t know when you’ll die,” he mused.
Through this battle against cancer, Singtongnoi learned that life is valuable and should not be taken for granted. After overcoming the life-threatening illness, Muay Thai was out of the question going forward for Singtongnoi.
However, Singtongnoi valued his second shot at life, awakening his willpower to not only make a full physical recovery but to get back to the sport that he loved.
Singtongnoi is set to return to action on 18 May as part of ONE Super Series, ONE Championship’s global platform that provides the world’s best martial artists to showcase and celebrate the beauty of Asia’s striking arts.
The 37-year-old Thai kickboxer is slated to square off with Italian dynamo Joseph Lasiri on the undercard of ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS, which takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Singtongnoi received an opportunity to showcase his incredible skills to the largest audience he has ever performed for. According to Singtongnoi, to become a true martial artist, he believes that he must continue fighting for the people he loves.
“I believe a great martial artist is someone who knows his responsibilities – someone who is disciplined, and can stick to a schedule and work hard,” he stressed.
Singtongnoi asserted that he does not need any more motivation to capture a victory because all he has to do is reflect on his rough experience nearly two years ago and think about his beloved family back home.
“I will fight for my future the best way I know how. And come 18th of May in Singapore, I will take on a talented competitor and win,” he guaranteed.
With ONE: GRIT AND GLORY set for 12th May at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia, ONE gave us access to their open workout event at the Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA Gym on 9th May. It featured main event competitors, reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva of Brazil, and opponent Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito of Japan. Also in attendance were martial arts stars Stefer Rahardian, Himanshu Kaushik, Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol, and Rome Trinidad who will all be appearing on the supporting card.
Alex Silva, ONE Strawweight World Champion, stated:
“I am always looking for a spectacular finish, no matter where the bout ends up — whether on the feet or on the ground. I really feel like I can beat Naito again, no doubt. If it takes one round or five, I’m ready. I am prepared to go the duration of the contest again. My goal is to improve on the performance of the last bout. There should be no problems with me going to the end since I have prepared well, but I am definitely looking to finish this time around.”
Alex “Little Rock” Silva of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is a third-degree black belt and Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion feared for his relentless pursuit of submission finishes. He is a technical grappling specialist with a penchant for securing highlight-reel submissions. With steadily increasing confidence, five of Silva’s last six victories have all ended in spectacular fashion. In his most recent contest, Silva turned in the best performance of his career, defeating former champion Yoshitaka Naito via unanimous decision to claim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Now, Silva is ready to return to action to defend the belt against the same man he took it from.
Yoshitaka Naito, the Japanses star, stated:
“This is a really important bout for me, and I am working very hard to win this time. I think the opportunity that I have for this rematch this soon is very rare, so I’m not taking it lightly. He is the champion now, and I am the challenger. Silva is very good at everything. I underestimated his striking previously, but he is very well-rounded. I could not do what I wanted to do in the cage. This time, things will be different.”
Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito of Matsudo, Japan, owns a stellar professional record of 12-1. He owns six victories by submission and one by knockout. Naito made a name for himself at Japan’s world famous Korakuen Hall competing for Shooto as its Flyweight Champion, and captured the ONE Strawweight World Championship by submitting Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in his ONE promotional debut in 2016. In his most recent bout, Naito succumbed to now reigning division king, Alex Silva. He returns to action looking to reclaim championship glory against Silva in a rematch.
Top Indonesian martial arts talent Stefer Rahardian impressed in his ONE Championship debut by winning the ONE: TITLES & TITANS Flyweight Tournament in August of 2016. Rahardian finished both Yotha Hutagalung and Hendrick Wijaya by first round rear-naked choke to become the tournament winner. Since then, Rahardian has blazed a trail in the ONE Championship cage in an amazing run as a professional. In his last outing, Rahardian outperformed Pakistan’s Muhammad Imran to win by unanimous decision. Still unbeaten at a perfect 8-0, Rahardian puts his unblemished record on the line against Himanshu Kaushik in a strawweight contest.
Stefer Rahardian, stated:
“I definitely learned a lot from my last match, and I know that I need to be prepared for everything. It was hard, but I earned a tough decision and that’s great. But now I want to win with a finish. I want to excite the crowd and give my best performance. There is something to be learned with every match, win or lose. I want to show that I have improved a lot since my last appearance.”
Indian bantamweight contender Himanshu Kaushik is set to make his ONE Championship debut at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY. Kaushik has competed mostly in his native India, showcasing a solid set of striking and grappling skills. A striking specialist, Kaushik also owns a wushu record of 71-7. Kaushik’s promotional debut will be anything but easy however, as he faces surging Indonesian martial arts talent Stefer Rahardian in a three-round strawweight bout. Himanshu Kaushik, commented stating:
“With my family and friends supporting me, I want to make them proud of my performance. I am very lucky to have the team I have behind me. Stefer Rahardian is a great athlete, undefeated and experienced. He has great wrestling skills and his grappling is top notch. I am preparing to handle his strengths and by the time we both step into the cage, I’ll be ready. I know what to do and we have a great game plan in place.”
Female martial artist Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol of Jakarta, Indonesia, is an Indonesian national wushu champion who has trained in various striking disciplines such as kickboxing and wushu. The 29-year-old made her ONE Championship debut against Singapore’s Tiffany Teo at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS in February 2017, joining a growing list of elite female martial artists in Asia. Lumban Gaol, a striking specialist with a wushu record of 15-5, will look to extend her two-bout winning streak to three in her next appearance inside the ONE Championship cage, when she takes on Rome Trinidad. Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol spoke to press saying:
“The more I compete, the more experience I get. It does not matter so much whether I win or lose, as long as there is always something to learn. I am working on all areas of my skills, both in my striking and in my ground game. I really feel like I have improved a lot, and I want to showcase this in this next match. I want to be the best. I want to get more matches and wins, and hopefully get the belt.”
Her opponent, 20-year-old Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad of Manila, Philippines is set to return to action in her second appearance inside the ONE Championship cage. The atomweight competitor is a practitioner of Sikaran, an ancient martial arts discipline which originated from Rizal province in the Philippines. With no written history, Sikaran was passed on from generation to generation by succession. A former National Sikaran Champion training out of Elorde Gym, Trinidad is ready to showcase her skills to the world. She takes on rising Indonesian martial arts star Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol. Rome Trinidad commented:
“I am out to prove that every woman can do anything they put their mind to. I want to inspire the youth, young girls who look up to us martial artists and want to follow in our footsteps. I want them to be strong against any challenge in life, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. This is a tough game we play, but I am prepared to do what it takes to bring my best performance to the cage.”
ONE: GUTS AND GLORY has all the makings of a exciting outing in Jakarta. With some fun fights and technical fighters, we should be in for a treat.
ONE Championship have announced the launch of their new mobile app which will provide free, high definition access to live events in addition to their complete library of digital content.
The industry leading move by the promotion sets a new standard in how MMA fans access digital content in a world where TV distribution rights and piracy are hot topics. With promotions worldwide battling for TV ratings and looking to improve PPV numbers, ONE Championship have broken the mold and instead are working on making their content as accessible as possible to as many fans as possible.
It is a bold move from the largest global sports media property in Asian history. With no shortage of stars on the roster, the promotion has a truely world wide fan base. With this innovative move, these fans now have access to all things ONE Championship at any time, anywhere in the world.
You can download the ONE Championship app for either iOS or Android here.
Filipina warrior Rome “Rebel” Trinidad will walk to the ONE Championship cage on Saturday, May 12 with a mixed martial arts legend by her side.
Andrew Benibe, a household name in the established local mixed martial arts scene in the Philippines, will be part of the entourage of Trinidad as she is scheduled to square off with hometown hero Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol on the undercard of ONE: GRIT AND GLORY in Jakarta, Indonesia.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for a young and dedicated cage competitor like Trinidad when she yielded to Thai standout Rika Ishige in her promotional debut this past December.
Trinidad suffered a second-round submission loss to Ishige at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in the Thai dynamo’s homebase of Bangkok, failing to ace her maiden assignment under the ONE Championship banner.
Although the thrilling atomweight bout against Ishige put fans at the state-of-the-art Impact Arena on the edge of their seats, Trinidad was left disappointed with the outcome of the match.
“I believe that I could have done better in that match, but I came up short. I just realized that there was something missing,” she admitted.
“It was my first time to fight internationally, and I lost. It gave me motivation to keep going, get better, and be more aggressive. Most of all, it taught me to be humble in all aspects of my life,” Trinidad added.
The submission defeat to Ishige forced Trinidad to reassess on how she handles her training camp when she prepares for an upcoming bout.
During her time of contemplation, Trinidad found a much-needed help in Benibe, a former Philippine bantamweight champion who currently works a mixed martial arts trainer at Maic’s Gym in Marikina City.
“Right now, I have a tremendous support system in my training, especially with the help of my coach Andrew Benibe. He knows how to bring out the best in me,” Trinidad said of Benibe.
Having 17 professional bouts under his belt, Benibe has been a staple of the Philippine mixed martial arts circuit since 2006 and has shared the stage with the industry’s notable figures such as Mark Eddiva, Jessie Rafols, Will Chope, Reysaldo Transmonte and Mark Striegl.
Moreover, Benibe made a one-off appearance inside the ONE Championship cage when he took on Team Lakay’s Honorio Banario at the organization’s first event on Philippine soil in August 2012.
Now sitting on the coach’s stool to oversee Trinidad’s training, Benibe claimed that his pupil is ready for anything as they have been working on all elements of the game in preparation of her cage encounter with Gaol.
“We have trained her for both stand-up and grappling in anticipation of anything,” he shared. “But whatever the condition, Rome Trinidad’s best bet is a stand-up game and finishing the match with striking.”
The partnership between Trinidad and Benibe will be tested for the very first time as the Filipina combatant returns to action on Saturday to face the hot-streaking Gaol at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY.
Gaol has won two-straight matches to kick off her 2018, defeating Malaysia’s Audreylaura Boniface via first-round stoppage last January before submitting Filipina newcomer Krisna Limbaga a month later.
The 21-year-old Marikina City resident seeks to make an astonishing statement in her second ONE Championship outing as she battles Gaol at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY.
“I want to win so bad. I have dreams and aspirations as a competitor. In order to turn those into a reality, I have to win first. This is the first step,” she stated.
With the desire to reinsert her name into the winner’s column, Trinidad is confident that her support system has geared her up splendidly for her three-round clash with Gaol on Saturday
“I have the best coach in my corner. I trained with the most talented athletes in the sport for this bout. With that said, I’m oozing with confidence coming into this match because I have my team behind me,” she concluded.
With ONE: Grits and Glory drawing near, one cannot help but wonder what goes into the mind of the fighters as they prepare themselves for battle. Fortunately, the opportunity to interview one of the main event fighters has presented to us here at MMAMotion. We interview former strawweight champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito (12-1) to ask him questions of varying subjects, including his thoughts on once again facing Alex “Little Rock” Silva (7-1) with the title on the line.
Gregory Dorvil: What did you love about the culture of MMA when you were growing up?
Yoshitaka Naito: There were plenty of exciting action that I have never seen and the atmosphere at the venue was great. I seemed like both athletes and fans were having a good time together.
GD: You mention that you liked Sakuraba when he performed in MMA, because of his use of strategy. What made that strategy the most appealing to you out of, say, teeth-gritting brawling?
YN: Sakuraba won against the best fighters by a submission that no one has ever seen so it was mind blowing and it fascinating me.
GD: Do you still read manga, if so what titles do you currently read. Are there any manga characters that resonate with you today, or is Nobita still your top favorite?
YN: I still read comics. I’m currently into this coming called ‘Golden Kamui.’ It’s a bit scary but it has lots of nature in it so I like it. Nobita is always my favorite character.
GD: How would you describe your fighter spirit, that which fuels you and guides you in every fight?
YN: I don’t know if I have the fighters spirit but I always try to show everything that I got in every bout.
That is what I was taught from hero’s in comic books.
GD: What culture, attidues, or values do you think ONE FC or its roster brings to the world of MMA?
YN: ONE has the best athletes in their roster and is expanding the possibility of the fighters.
GD: Do you approach the MMA world from a classic warrior’s perspective or business perspective? Or a little of both?
YN: I try to approach in both classic warrior’s perspective or business perspective. If both perspective match, I want the organization to gather the best fighters and also succeed in business and be sustainable.
GD: How different do you think the culture of MMA is today as opposed to what it was when you first watched Sakabura, or even when you joined MMA in your adult years?
YN: I feel MMA is expanding to the world and everyone is aware of the sports.
GD: You mentioned in your biography promo video that fear is what motivates you in your training and in your fights. What is it that you fear, even when you were champion, and how does it affect your fighter spirit, if at all?
YN: One win and one loss can dramatically change your life. It’s a thankful thing but scary at the same time. Fierce never went away even after I became champion but a tough situation is always a chance.
GD: When you became champion, was that your only goal, or one goal of many?
YN: I want become a person who is appropriate to be a champion. Someone who behaves and can be a role model.
GD: What was the reception with your friends and family like after receiving it?
YN: Everyone was happy about me becoming champion and celebrated.
GD: What did you want to accomplish once you attained the status of a champion, either legacy-wise or business wise?
YN: Money is important, but I was proud that I become champion in an organization big as ONE.
GD: What was your thought process before the fight with Silva, as you studied him, in terms of fighting prowess and mentality?
YN: I knew Alex was good so I was expecting an exciting fight against him.
GD: During the fight, in between rounds, what did you gauge from his skills, his mentality?
YN: I felt spirit from him during the fight but dont remember much because I was totally focussed.
GD: Where is your mind coming into the rematch with Silva?
YN: Same opponent but the big difference is that I dont have a belt to protect. This I will take it as a positive thing and challenge aggressively.
GD: If you win the belt, what are your future plans? Continuation?
YN: I’m only thinking about becoming a champion again at the moment so I will think about the future after get back my belt.
GD: Do you see any fighters within your division or the divisions above that you would like to fight?
YN: I want to fight against someone like Gian! [Gian is the bully character in Doraemon].
Catch ONE: Grits and Glory This Saturday May 12th in the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia, as Yoshitaka Naito faces Alex Silva in a main event rematch for the Strawweight championship of the world.
After relinquishing possession of the ONE Strawweight World Championship this past December, Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito has been handed an opportunity to win back the gold-plated strap that he once called his, against the only man to ever defeat him.
The 34-year-old native of Matsudo, Japan has been granted a rematch against newly-minted division kingpin Alex “Little Rock” Silva in the main event of ONE: GRIT AND GLORY, which takes place at the Jakarta Convention Center on 12 May.
It is now almost five months since Naito bowed down to Silva, who demonstrated his rapidly-evolving striking game to beat the then-undefeated Japanese champion by unanimous decision at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Alex had more superiority in the cage on that night. I could not dictate the pace and do what I wanted to do. I was adapting throughout the match. In every aspect, my game plan failed,” he recalled.
Naito admitted that he was caught off guard by the striking arsenal of Silva. The Brazilian is a Jiu-Jitsu world champion who previously exhibited his grappling prowess with five consecutive submission victories as he surged into world title contention last year.
“In the beginning, I thought his weakness was striking since he is a multi-titled Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. However, it turned out that his strikes hurt a lot,” he confessed. “That was my first time meeting an athlete who is good at everything. After the loss, I felt I was not good enough at anything.”
Although Naito revealed that it took some time for him to accept the outcome of his unsuccessful title defense against Silva last December, the disappointing defeat to the Brazilian produced a renewed hunger to improve his craft.
“At first, it was very hard to accept. You can say that it was a rude awakening, but the loss gave me a fresh perspective. The heartbreak was transformed into a drive to win again,” he said.
While Naito has rededicated himself to progressing both his striking and his grappling skills, perhaps the biggest evolution is one that cannot be physically seen.
“I hope I got stronger. But what I am sure about is that my heart is definitely stronger than before,” he stated.
As he prepares to step inside the ONE Championship cage with Silva once more on 12 May, Naito now holds his Brazilian rival in high esteem as he vows to capitalize on the golden chance that lies before him.
“I am so happy to get another chance to have a rematch against him. I really respect him. He is a great athlete,”
“The championship belt is special for me. I am so honored to be able to fight the strongest athlete in the division whether I win or not. I can fight the strongest athlete, and I have a chance to get the championship belt. That makes it very special for me,” Naito added.
Almost five months since losing his coveted title belt to Silva, Naito’s competitive fire is burning intensely and he is more driven than ever to return to glory.
“I will get my belt back. My ultimate goal is to become a champion again.” Naito insisted.
After fireworks erupted at the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines nearly a week ago, ONE Championship shifts focus immediately to its next blockbuster event in Jakarta, Indonesia on 12 May.
Taking place at the Jakarta Convention Center, ONE: GRIT AND GLORY features a highly-anticipated strawweight championship rematch between newly-minted division kingpin Alex Silva and Yoshitaka Naito as its headliner.
Both men initially crossed paths this past December when Silva shocked the world by dethroning Naito for the ONE strawweight World Championship by unanimous decision.
“I was very emotional and excited. I talked to my cornermen after every round, and they said I was doing okay and doing good, so I was pretty confident I would be the winner. I was very emotional and happy by the time they announced my name as the winner,” Silva recalled.
Silva wrapped the coveted gold-plated strap around his waist following a dominant striking performance, unveiling a new dimension to his evolving skill set by putting together dynamic combinations.
Figuring in an offensive clinic against his Japanese counterpart, Silva overwhelmed Naito from the beginning of the bout, peppering his opponent with lashing leg kicks and rocking right hands.
Although Silva had the upper hand in the first three rounds of the championship clash, he had to overcome a spirited performance from Naito, who did his best effort to wear down the Brazilian challenger in the last two periods of the contest.
Relying on his exquisite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background, Silva managed to defend Naito’s grappling advances to walk out of the Impact Arena with the unanimous decision victory and the prestigious ONE strawweight World Championship in his possession.
“I am very happy about my performance because people usually see me as a grappling guy. I know my skills, and I know I can strike. Because I was competing in Thailand, I wanted to put on a good show for people, so I came up with this plan to strike with him,” said Silva.
“I was having fun with my striking. I would just keep all the rounds striking. I wanted to show I could strike. I think it is going to be good for my future. I want people to see I am more than just a grappler. I want people to see I am a complete martial artist,” he added.
The 35-year-old submission specialist from Brazil will be looking for a repeat performance against Naito, who has been handed a golden opportunity to win back the title he once called his and against the only man to ever defeat him.
“He was the champion for a good reason. He is tough as nails. Giving up is not his style. But with all due respect, I am determined to keep my belt. I am confident of my skills. My martial arts, my grappling, my conditioning – all of that makes me confident,” Silva stated.
Silva respects his opponent’s skill set and is quick to offer that Natio’s ground game remains as his best attribute.
“I can’t be complacent against Yoshitaka Naito. He has a great ground game. Plus, he has a big heart. Even I if I won the first encounter, this match on May 12th is going to be a tough one,” he explained.
As he expects another tough encounter with Naito at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY, Silva is looking to take his championship stature to the next level.
“I do not want to just be the world champion. I want to be the best ever in this division. I work hard, I have the discipline, and I have everything on my side to do it. I have a good team around me, I have the dedication, I have the skills, and I am hungry. So that is my new goal, to become the best athlete to ever compete in this division,” he ended.