By The Nation
The world’s finest martial arts athletes came out to address fans and media ahead of the blockbuster event taking place at the Mall of Asia Arena on 2 August. Reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen stood face to face with challenger Koyomi Matsushima for the first time in an intense staredown in lieu of their main event matchup.
Also in attendance was ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, as well as ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty and opponent Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon, American mixed martial arts legends Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarezand Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, among other ONE athletes competing on the card.
Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, stated: “This is without a doubt the greatest event in Philippine martial arts history. If you are a Filipino anywhere in the world, you do not want to miss Friday night. On a personal note, I am so excited for Eduard Folayang versus Eddie Alvarez, genuinely two of the greatest martial artists on the planet, two incredible legends with storied careers, and such incredible human beings. Our mission since day one has been to ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams and inspiration. There are two huge World Title bouts here in Manila. I am a huge fan of Martin Nguyen and his lovely family. Koyomi Matsushima has come here as the best in Japan. This bout is going to be fireworks. Both guys hit very, very hard. This one, I guarantee is not going the full distance. I believe it’s going to end by KO or by submission. Philippines, you are in for another treat. A bout which has the potential to be Bout of the Night -- Jonathan Haggerty versus Rodtang Jitmuangnon. Of course, we also have the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-finals between Demetrious Johnson and Tatsumitsu Wada. The winner goes on to compete in the finals at ONE: CENTURY in Tokyo, our 100th event.”
Martin Nguyen, ONE Featherweight World Champion, stated: “I hope you guys are as excited as I am, being able to come back here and compete in front of the Manila fans and Filipinos. First and foremost, I’m just happy to compete at the highest level. I want to thank ONE Championship, Chatri [Sityodtong], Victor Cui, Matt Hume, for believing in me. I want to thank my coaches for believing in me and pushing me everyday to be the best person I can be. I want to say congratulations to Koyomi Matsushima in earning his title shot by winning his last bout decisively. It’s an honor and I’m excited to go up against a warrior who puts it all on the line as much as I do. On Friday night, you all are in for a treat. I’ve been working so hard and I’m sure he’s been working so hard as well. But this is my division...and still.”
Koyomi Matsushima, ONE World Title Challenger, stated: “I’m really honored to be competing against the greatest champion, Martin Nguyen. Our fight will be a very exciting fight, so please come to the event and watch.”
Jonathan Haggerty, ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion, stated: “I want to thank everyone for coming out today. Ever since I was a little boy, this has been my dream, being up here on the big stage among legends like Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez. I’m fighting Rodtang Jitmuangnon. He’s a very come-forward fighter. I’ve been training hard. I know what I’m going to expect and I have a game plan which I always do. Last May, I defeated Sam-A Gaiyanghadao for the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title. This title is going to be staying with me. This is what I do. This is what I love. I’m here to stay champion.”
Rodtang Jitmuangnon, ONE World Title Challenger, stated: “This is my second time to compete in Manila and this is the biggest card ever in Philippine history. This is also the most important bout of my career. Fighting for a world title in ONE Championship is something every fighter dreams of. To all my fans around the world, please support me this coming Friday. I will do my best.”
Eduard Folayang, former ONE Lightweight World Champion, stated: “Good afternoon to all. I’m really excited to be competing in Manila again. Of course, I’ll be facing Eddie [Alvarez]. He’s one of those athletes that I spent a lot of time watching before. He says this isn’t the right time, but I believe it’s God’s time. It’s a huge honor for me to be able to test my skills against him. My preparations have gone well. I lost my belt last March. That chapter of my career has closed. It’s time to write another chapter of my journey.”
Eddie Alvarez, 4x Lightweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion, stated: “Thank you Manila. I rarely come as a nemesis to a country. Usually, I’m the guy holding the belt. It’s unusual for me to be the bad guy, but I promise you if I’m the bad guy, I will not disappoint. I respect Eduard [Folayang]. I respect everything he’s done not just as a fighter, but also as a human being for his community. This is what this sport is all about. It’s beyond what goes on in the Circle. In the movies, heroes always prevail. The nemesis loses, he goes home and everybody’s happy. Unfortunately, that’s not the story here. You picked the wrong guy at the wrong time. I love you Manila. I respect you Eduard. Let’s have some fun.”
Demetrious Johnson, 12x Flyweight Mixed Martial Arts World Champion, stated: “I’m very much looking forward to taking on Tatsumitsu Wada. It’s the second round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. Being a kid, growing up watching Japanese mixed martial arts, I could never imagine myself actually competing against the best in the world and hopefully eventually win the Grand Prix. I’m looking forward to my first time competing here in Manila. I think this is probably the biggest press conference I’ve ever been to, with all of the media. Thank you guys so much for being here. I look forward to fighting. I’m sure I’m going to battle a little adversity against Tatsumitsu Wada. I’ve been down on the scorecards before, but I keep on pushing through. I look forward to entertaining you all on Friday night.”
Tatsumitsu Wada, ONE Athlete, stated: “Thank you for welcoming me Filipino fans. This is the third time for me to fight in Manila, so I feel at home here. This week, I’m fighting pound-for-pound the world’s greatest martial artist, Demetrious Johnson. I’m really honored to fight against him, but I have a chance to win. I will do my best to try to stick to my game plan and try to win. Thank you for all the support.”