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Clash of powers, east against west, time to walk the thrash talk, and explosive action from potential top strawweight contenders.
This is what one expects when the Lito Adiwang – Jarred Brooks face off is finally delivered to the viewing public.
Their match is the main event of ONE: NEXTGEN III on Friday, November 26, at Singapore.
“Thunder” versus “god”
The two protagonists have juggernaut fight nicknames and their records showed whoever gave them those were on point.
The “Thunder Kid” wields a 13-3 record filled with highlight abbreviated finishes. 7 of his wins came via knockout and 4 by submissions. Five of the early finishes came under the ONE umbrella.
“The Monkey God” possess a record of 16-2-1. 2 of his wins came via knockout while 6 by submissions. Four of his bouts were under Ultimate Fighting Championship while his latest one was fought under Bellator.
If everything on paper holds out, this clash of powers will produce one of the explosive fight between two of the most complete fighters in ONE.
East versus West
True to form, Brooks is similar to many fighters from the west. He stirred things up with thrash talk. He got into battle of words and psychs to get any advantage from there.
Adiwang was like the general East fighter, laid back, usually calm and collected, and usually compete during the fight. He was more of the one that lets the fight happen only inside the ring.
The American is winning this battle so far. He goaded Adiwang into engaging and playing his game.
The two have been going at it since their original bout was announced for “ONE on TNT II” last April, a bout that was postponed after Adiwang contracted COVID-19.
In the months that followed, the debuting Brooks continued talking big and taking shots at the top guys in the strawweight division.
The usually quiet Adiwang uncharacteristically fired back in various interviews, making it clear he plans to humble the tough-talking wrestler when they meet.
As the fight nears, Adiwang is making the adjustment, pulling away from all the talk and getting down to business.
The “Thunder Kid” is coming into awareness that Brooks got him break his peace and join the war of words by simply saying he wanted to do something with his hair.
“That comes from me just getting irritated by him. I saw his comments in my post before that he wants to cut my mullet after beating me,” Adiwang says. “So yeah, let’s go, let’s settle the score first, then maybe he can worry about that after. Because he’s got so many more problems other than my mullet.”
Brooks has since apologized for the comment, but that hasn’t taken away the fire from either man. “The Monkey God” recently reignited the flames by claiming that Adiwang’s unusual trash talk is a sign of nerves before their bout.
Walk the talk
Both men promised to do lots of things but should know their trash talking would mean nothing if they don’t back them up.
Both had been acting as if they are near championship contender status but they aren’t there yet.
While both have impressive records and riding hot streaks, their victories are still in the middle of the pack.
All Brooks could brag at this time is experience competing in the big leagues against some of the big names. He had not wpon any major title yet. He did went up against opponents with records similar to his at UFC and ended up with a pedestrian 2-2 result. He won two by split decision, lost one also by split decision and lost the other by botching a slam attempt and ended up hurting himself.
Two fights after he was reported released by UFC, Brooks’ outlasted highly rated DEEP strawweight champion Haruo Ochi by unanimous decision in a Bellator match.
This one win is what lead many fight analysts to name him as the world’s best strawweight.
Ironically, Adiwang might be on a similar situation with Brooks. While he produced those ONE Championship impressive finishes against opponents winning records, none of them were ranked highly by the promotion.
In fact, Brooks would fit the bill of the toughest opponent he would have faced so far in his career, at least on paper.
Adiwang said it best when he brushed off talks of nervousness from Brooks.
“Let’s try to change the word nervous. Let’s use excited instead,” the 28-year-old Filipino says. “I’m really, really excited about this fight because he said that he’s the best in the world, and that’s the thing for me. I really want to test my skills against the best. So I’m really looking forward to this one.”
Adiwang dispatched “Wolf of the Grasslands” Hexigetu in a dominant decision victory this September, paving his reentry to the rankings as fifth ranked.
He thinks the the traits shared by Hexigetu and “The Monkey God” benefits him. “The Hexigetu fight is a blessing because yeah, they have some kind of similarities. So it’s a good warmup fight for me,” Adiwang says.
“We know that [Hexigetu’s] game plan is to try to take me down and control me, maybe dish some ground-and-pound and win by points. But I did stop his game, so it’s a blessing for me to have that fight. Great warmup fight.”
But the Filipino is done talking now. He’s ready to let his actions do the work and he hopes “The Monkey God” feels the same.
The strawweights of ONE would better keep an eye on Adiwang if he dispatches Brooks. A win would confirm he is a worthy challenger to any of the top contenders for their spots.
On the other hand, a win by Brooks would validate his lofty status despite being a newcomer. He might make Adiwang’s reappearance in the rankings short-lived.