Fighters from the Philippines had their share of triumphs, heartbreaks, and gut-stopping action at ONE Championship for the past 12 months.
Several young guns made their debuts, a world champion kept his belt, and another lost his title. With 2021 coming to a close, it’s time to review what transpired for our local fighters.
Here are three takeaways from the year for Filipinos in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
Team Lakay’s Next Generation Is For Real
Considered the face of this generation, Pacio will walk into 2022 as the lone Filipino ONE World Champion. But several of his young teammates who made their debuts this year could join him on the pedestal soon.
Stephen “The Sniper” Loman made a grand introduction after knocking out #3-ranked bantamweight Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev. Jeremy “The Juggernaut” Pacatiw was also dominant in his debut against “The Ghost” Chen Rui.
The year only proved that the fabled MMA gym is here to stay, and they are anticipating an exciting year ahead.
Pinoys Find Home Abroad
A small group of Filipino athletes took their chance in a start-up gym in Thailand, hoping for a fresh start in their respective fighting careers.
With plenty of solid training partners and experienced coaches available, Miado showed significant improvement in his lone match this year against Miao Li Tao, winning via second-round TKO.
Denice Zamboanga lost controversially this year but performed better than in her previous bouts. After all, “Arale Chan” Ham Seo Hee is easily the best fighter she ever faced.
That said, expect more MMA athletes from the Philippines to flock into the Bangkok-based gym.
A Changing Of The Guard?
While the younger generation like Pacio and Zamboanga are ready to represent the country against the best MMA fighters worldwide, the old guard hasn’t been as successful in 2021.
Longtime ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera lost his strap this year. Former world champions in Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, as well as former top contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan, dropped their respective matches.
It’s not the end of the road for any of these pillars, but 2022 will be a crucial crossroad in their careers.
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