ONE Championship’s first ever Official Rankings affirmed what many already presumably knew, Filipinos and Team Lakay’s control of ONE’s little mens’ field, the MMA strawweight division, and their prominence in other MMA divisions as well.
Joshua Pacio led four other Team Lakay Members and three other Filipinos who were featured as one of the Top Five contenders in their respective divisions.
The list, however, did not include the heavyweight division where Fil-Am Brandon Vera still ranked supreme.
Looming to challenge Pacio, the current ONE Straweight Champion, are teammate Lito Adiwang at 5 and recent victim and compatriot Rene Catalan at 3.
Incidentally, “The Passion” has already beaten all his top contenders with the exception of “Thunder Kid”.
If the trend continues where Pacio wards off all takers and Adiwang continues his hot streak, it may not take long before ONE will be forced to make a bout between these two Team Lakay stars with the title at stake.
Also appearing to be ripe for a title shot is Danny Kingad, who is the second highest ranked contender in the Lightweight Division.
Kingad is coming off a sorry loss one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter Demetrius Johnson during the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship last year that snapped his six bout winning run.
“The King” may eventually get a shot after Johnson, who ranked second in the division, and current Lightweight champ Adriano Moraes get have their title match.
Fil-Autralian Reece McLaren is also lurking as the fifth ranked lightweight contender.
Kevin Belingon is still the top ranked contender in the Bantamweight division but may have to wait for the proper opponent before getting another shot at the title given that champion Bibiano Fernandes clearly got his number in their four previous fights.
Fight fans may not be eager to see a fifth fight between the two as “The Silencer” is a mere 1-3 against Fernandes, with losses coming via two submissions and a disqualification while barely registering his only win on account of a split decision.
It may take another contender to dethrone Fernandes before Belignon will have another crack at the title he previously possessed.
Lastly, Gina Iniong made the rankings as the fifth ranked contender in the women’s atomweight division where compatriot Denice Zamboanga is lurking as the top contender for Angela Lee’s coveted belt.
Among the few reasons why the still unbeaten Zamboanga be excluded from challenging Lee soon is that she has only four career MMA fights and only two of them came as a ONE fighter.
On the other hand, Iniong appears to be on the right track as her good fortunes continues with her winning a gold in the latest SEA Games and winning three of four bouts in ONE.
Her latest ONE MMA bout saw her dispatched opponent Asha Roka by an impressive submission earlier this year.
Iniong is 5-2 in ONE and 9-4 in her MMA fight career.
The official rankings have been determined by an independent panel of top sports media and industry experts that includes Santino Honasan of ABS-CBN and JM Siasat – GMA Network.
ONE is expected to release their ranking updates after each event.
Here are the other contenders along with the Pinoys in ONE Championship Official Rankings as of April 27, 2020:
Strawweight Mixed Martial Arts – World Champion: Joshua Pacio; Contenders: 1. Yosuke Saruta, 2. Yoshitaka Naito, 3. Rene Catalan, 4. Alex Silva, 5. Lito Adiwang
Flyweight Mixed Martial Arts – World Champion: Adriano Moraes; Contenders: 1. Demetrious Johnson; 2. Danny Kingad; 3. Kairat Akhmetov; 4. Yuya Wakamatsu; 5. Reece McLaren
Bantamweight Mixed Martial Arts – World Champion: Bibiano Fernandes; 1. Kevin Belingon; 2. Shoko Sato; 3. Yusup Saadulaev; 4. Shuya Kamikubo; 5. Daichi Takenaka
Women’s Atomweight Mixed Martial Arts – World Champion: Angela Lee; 1. Denice Zamboanga; 2. Meng Bo; 3. Lin Heqin; 4. Mei Yamaguchi; 5. Gina Iniong
The ONE Independent Rankings Panel (as of April 27, 2020):
Tom Taylor – BJPenn.com, Stewart Fulton – MMA in Japan, Nicolas Atkin – South China Morning Post, Ian Shutts – Lowkick MMA, Santino Honasan – ABS-CBN, JM Siasat – GMA Network, Manabu Takashima – MMA Planet, Yuji Kitano – Abema TV Japan, James Goyder – AsianMMA.com, Marcelo Alonso – Tatame Magazine, Sazali Abdul Aziz – Straits Times, Worapath Arunpakdee – Thairath TV, Poptorn Roongsamai – Champ Magazine, Wanlop Sawasdee – MGR Online, Adam Kayoom – Former Athlete, Ann Osman – Former Athlete, Rich Franklin – Former Athlete, Miesha Tate – Former Athlete
ONE Championship Official Rankings of other divisions (as of April 27, 2020):
Strawweight Kickboxing: World Champion: Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, Contenders: 1. Astemir Borsov , 2. Wang Junguang, 3. Rocky Ogden, 4. Josh Tonna, 5. Daren Rolland
Strawweight Muay Thai: World Champion: Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, Contenders: 1. Josh Tonna, 2. Rocky Ogden, 3. Daren Rolland, 4. Andy Howson, 5. Rui Botelho
Flyweight Kickboxing: World Champion: Ilias Ennahachi, Contenders: 1. Rodtang Jitmuangnon, 2. Superlek Kiatmoo9, 3. Walter Goncalves, 4. Panpayak Jitmuangnon, 5. Elias Mahmoudi
Flyweight Muay Thai: World Champion: Rodtang Jitmuangnon, 1. Panpayak Jitmuangnon, 2. Superlek Kiatmoo9, 3. Jonathan Haggerty, 4. Elias Mahmoudi, 5. Petchdam Petchyindee Academy
Bantamweight Kickboxing, World Champion: Alaverdi Ramazanov. Contenders: 1. Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, 2. Sangmanee Sathian MuayThai, 3. Zhang Chenglong, 4. Liam Harrison, 5. Rodlek P.K. Saenchaimuaythaigym
Bantamweight Muay Thai: World Champion: Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Contenders: 1. Sangmanee Sathian MuayThai, 2. Bobo Sacko, 3. Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai, 4. Alaverdi Ramazanov, 5. Muangthai P.K. Saenchaimuaythaigym
Featherweight Mixed Martial Arts: World Champion: Martin Nguyen, Contenders: 1. Christian Lee, 2. Koyomi Matsushima, 3. Thanh Le, 4. Tetsuya Yamada, 5. Garry Tonon
Featherweight Kickboxin:, World Champion: Vacant, Contenders: 1. Giorgio Petrosyan, 2. Superbon Banchamek, 3. Tayfun Ozcan, 4. Samy Sana, 5. Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex
Featherweight Muay Thai: World Champion: Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy, Contenders: 1. Superbon Banchamek, 2. Jamal Yusupov, 3. Jo Nattawut, 4. Samy Sana, 5. Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex
Lightweight Mixed Martial Arts: World Champion: Christian Lee, Contenders: 1. Iuri Lapicus, 2. Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev, 3. Pieter Buist, 4. Timofey Nastyukhin, 5. Shinya Aoki
Lightweight Kickboxing: World Champion: Regian Eersel, Contenders: 1. Nieky Holzken, 2. Mustapha Haida, 3. Anthony Njokuani, 4. Andy Souwer, 5. Elliot Compton
Women’s Atomweight Kickboxing: World Champion: Janet Todd, Contenders: 1. Stamp Fairtex, 2. Alma Juniku, 3. Chuang Kai Ting, 4. Anne Line Hogstad, 5. Ekaterina Vandaryeva
Women’s Atomweight Muay Thai: World Champion: Stamp Fairtex, Contenders: 1. Janet Todd, 2. Anne Line Hogstad, 3. Alma Juniku, 4. Ekaterina Vandaryeva, 5. Rudzma Abubakar
Women’s Strawweight Mixed Martial Arts: World Champion: Xiong Jing Nan, Contenders: 1. Tiffany Teo, 2. Michelle Nicolini, 3. Angela Lee, 4. Ayaka Miura, 5. Maira Mazar
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS