ONE Fighting Championship 13 will take place in Manilla, Philippines on December 6, 2013. Titled “Moment of Truth”, the event revolves around Filipino fighters’ redemption, to which the headliner title rematch between Champ Koji Oishi and Honorio Banario attests.
At the halfway point of 2013, ONE FC made a triumphant foray into Philippine territory with its 9th event, “Rise to Power”. Pinoy fighters were given wide berth on the card and Team Lakay looked to launch itself into the upper echelons of coaching. There were five stellar Pinoy fighters lined up against very tough opponents, including Honorio Banario‘s first Featherweight Championship defense. An emotional night ensued. Four out of five Filipinos took their opponents the distance. Then, in front of a massive hometown contingency, one by one, all of them lost.
The matchmaking was epic, definitely testing the mettle of the Filipinos, yet showcasing their heart and capability. Geje Eustaquio faced Andrew Leone and was outgrappled, though never allowing a submission. Eduard Folayang faced Kamal Shalorus and was outwrestled, though never allowing a pin. Rey Docyogen, Kevin Belingon, and Banario faced UFC and Bellator vets and also took them the distance, with Banario’s knockdown of Koji Oishi in the first round of the last fight catapulting the crowd’s hopes of salvation for the evening. But it wasn’t to be the case, as Oishi recovered at the break and returned with a vengeance against the champion who was equally as ready to engage.
Post knockout, Banario was calm and contemplative of his relinquishment of the belt. He was adamant that he was winning the fight, but the way in which it ended was irrefutable and he accepted the defeat. Humbly, the inaugural champ said that he would go back to the drawing board and wait for his chance to climb the ranks again for another shot.
Oishi was vastly different upon the outcome and rightfully so. The dominate 36-year old striker had lost his lightweight belt in Pancrase to the up-and-comer Isao Kobayashi, then failed to secure Takumi Nakayama‘s featherweight strap due to a draw in his first shot dropping to the lighter division. While the wins continued to come, Oishi felt the gold slipping from his grasp. His shot at ONE FC swag came at the behest of Matt Hume’s matchmaking, and the fight that ensued – while disappointing for the hometown’s ego – was a win in terms of excitement, action, heart, and speed.
Oishi finished the evening with a punctuating KO, and the ONE FC Featherweight Championship moniker became his – icing on his birthday cake for the very same day.
Fast forward to the end of 2013, and the Pinoys have a shot to reclaim their oro. Banario has been awarded the first shot at the belt Oishi took from him. Eustaquio will take on a young up and comer, Eugene Toquero as reported by Yahoo!Sports Philippines who attended the press conference. Folayang will return to the cage against an as yet unannounced opponent. And another female fighter gets an entrance to the sport of MMA as former WBC Asian Atomweight Women’s champ boxer Jujeath Nagaowa signs on to fight an opponent to be announced later.
As a side note, ONE FC CEO Victor Cui gave a public reprimand to an official on behalf of a Filipino fighter. ONE FC officiating took a hit in the last outing when referee Kenichi Serizawa failed to stop elbows and punches by Kim Dhima from raining down illegally onto Rene Catalan. Cui stated that the referee had been suspended following Dhima’s win being overturned to a No Contest. Serizawa, on his own Facebook page, also issued a public and heartfelt apology.