The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), has just announced that Danny “The King” Kingad of the Philippines will take on Reece “Lightning” McLaren of Australia in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semi-finals. The bout will take place at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES, set for 2 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. McLaren steps in for Kairat Akhmetov, who had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.
Kingad is from Sadanga in the Mountain Province, but he went to school in Baguio City. He began training in wushu at the famed Team Lakay in 2012, and went on to win gold medals in several local tournaments. Inspired by the success of his esteemed teammates such as former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, he then turned his attention to the cage. Kingad made a successful start to his professional career in 2014, debuting with ONE Championship on the way to an impressive 8-0 record.
This earned him a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship against Adriano Moraes, but the Igorot warrior unfortunately failed in his first bid at World Title glory. Now, “The King” is back on the title hunt. After getting past Senzo Ikeda in the first round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, Kingad will have to defeat McLaren next in order to clinch a finals berth.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, McLaren is a highly-decorated martial artist, claiming the Eternal MMA and XFL Bantamweight Championships before making his ONE Championship debut. He emerged on the global stage in spectacular fashion, scoring a stunning upset by submitting Mark Striegl for a hugely impressive win. He would continue that trend of success against highly-regarded prospect Muin Gafurov, and earn a shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship against dominant titleholder Bibiano Fernandes. McLaren gave the living legend an incredibly tough test, but narrowly missed out on gold via split decision.
After bowing out of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix to Akhmetov via decision, McLaren steps right back into the mix to replace the injured Kazakh against Kingad in the semi-final round.
Former ONE World Title challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli of Italy squares off against ONE Championship newcomer Arjan Bhullar of India in a heavyweight contest.
Cerilli is a Cage Warriors Heavyweight Champion and a certified finisher known for his knockout power and submission skills. Prior to his ONE debut, Cerilli was on an impressive five-bout win streak, with four of those wins ending with emphatic knockouts. In his most recent outing, Cerilli put together a spectacular performance, finishing heavyweight behemoth Alain “The Panther” Ngalani in just one round with a series of knees.
Meanwhile, Bhullar is India’s top heavyweight mixed martial artist. He began his martial arts career on the mat, winning a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, before representing his country at the 2012 Olympics in London. With an impressive professional record of 9-1, Bullar now joins ONE Championship looking to make a run at the ONE World Title. He will have to get past Cerilli first, in what should be an interesting matchup.
Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio of the Philippines is set to go up against Japan’s Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix alternate bout.
Eustaquio is one of the top flyweights in ONE Championship who has faced the creme of the crop in the division. In his most recent outing, Eustaquio outpointed South Korean competitor Kyu Sung Kim to win by unanimous decision. Now the 30-year-old has the chance to climb his way back up the flyweight ladder. Standing in his way is Wakamatsu, who is eager for a victory against a top talent.
Holding a professional record of 10-4, Wakamatsu is an aggressive knockout artist with shocking power. With nine of his 10 victories coming by way of knockout, Wakamatsu is a force to be reckoned with at flyweight. Seeking his first victory in ONE Championship, “Little Piranha” takes on former World Champion Eustaquio in the latter’s hometown of Manila.