Danny “The King” Kingad has a new opponent in ONE: Dawn of Heroes even as Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio is confirmed to appear in the loaded event scheduled on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
ONE Championship announced that Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov, the former ONE Flyweight World Champion who was supposed to be opponent of Kingad in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinals, was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Taking his place would be the man he beat in the quarterfinals, Fil-Australian Reece “Lightning” McLaren. The replacement will now guarantee that the Philippines will be represented in the Finals of the Flyweight Grand Prix.
The winner of this bout will face the winner between Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson faces Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada in the other semis, also happening on the same night.
The finals is scheduled to happen during ONE: Century this coming October.
Mclaren, whose mother is an Australian and father is from the Philippines, was scheduled to take on Yuya Wakamatsu in a flyweight MMA bout during the even before getting this substitution call. His earlier loss to Akhmetov supposedly eliminated him from the Grand Prix tournament. This substitution gives him another shot, just like Honorio “The Rock” Banario’s case in the lightweight division.
McLaren is 12-6 during his MMA career. He split his last six matches. He dropped split decision to Bibiano Fernades and was knocked out by Kevin Belingon in the first round in the front end.
He rebounded nicely with a three bout win streak, submitting Anatpung Bunrad and Gianni Subba and outlasting Wada in a split decision win, before losing to Akhmetov in his latest bout.
Kingad is currently sporting an impressive 10-1 career fight record and is riding a five-bout winning streak. His only loss was to the legendary Adriano Moraes in November 2017.
The Akhmetov injury also benefited another Filipino as it forced Euastaquio to plunge into action on short notice to take on the vacated slot against Wakamatsu.
Eustaquio is currently sporting a 12-7 MMA win-loss career record. He is coming of a win against Kyu Sung Kim last May, after losing the ONE World Flyweight belt to Moraes last January.
Wakamatsu, known as the “Little Piranha”, is 10-4 in his MMA career, with nine knockouts. Wakamatsu, however, is still winless in fights under ONE although his two losses in the promotion were against stalwarts Kingad and Johnson. Nevertheless, his power should make him a dangerous opponent to anybody, Eustaquio included.
Eustaquio and Kingad will join Team Lakay teammates Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Honorio “The Rock” Banario, and Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly in representing the group the event.
Folayang is set to square against Eddie Alvarez in a lightweight MMA bout, Banario will see action in a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal contest against Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin, who earned his spot by upsetting Alvarez in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, while Kelly is set to take on ONE Hefei Bantamweight Tournament Finalist Xie “The Striker” Bin of China in a three-round MMA featherweight showdown
Also seeing aaction is former UFC heavyweight Arjan Singh Bhullar, an Indian-Canadian, who makes his ONE debut against former title challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli of Italy.
By Armando M. Bolislis