Issue of February 9, 2020
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New generation of Filipino fighters victorious in ONE
by Harley F. Palangchao

NEW GENERATION -- A new generation of rising fighters led by ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio along with Lito Adiwang and Danny Kingad has emerged for the famed Team Lakay. Other younger fighters are also fighting for various mixed martial arts promotions. -- ONE photos

The latest edition of ONE Championship in Manila indicates that a new generation of world-class mixed martial arts fighters from the famed Team Lakay is set to take the lead for younger athletes in the years to come.

Led by reigning ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio, the new generation of fighters displayed stand and ground fight skills that have impressed fight fans around the world during the ONE: Fire & Fury at the Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 31.

The 24-year-old Pacio proved he is the most dominant fighter in the strawweight division following his split decision victory against former world champion Alex Silva in the main event of the night.

Pacio, who has displayed an excellent defense against a blackbelt jiu-jitsu athlete in Silva, is also by far the youngest of the weight class’ elite and has defeated all former champions in the division.

“Pacio is still far from his physical peak, meaning he still has plenty of time to improve his skills while others work hard just to stay at the same level. It looks like it will be a tall order to dethrone the 24-year-old from Baguio City,” ONE Championship said.

In another thunderous performance, Team Lakay’s Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang also authored yet another breathtaking performance, making quick work of opponent Pongsiri Mitsatit of Thailand. 

After a brief gauge of distance, Adiwang abruptly closed the gap, blasting Mitsatit with a plethora of thudding power punches. An overwhelmed Mitsatit tried his best to cover up against the fence, but Adiwang would get close enough to stick a bodylock takedown.

On the mat, the 24-year-old Adiwang swiftly transitioned into a scarf-hold, where he then caught Mitsatit in a kimura to force the tap.

MMA fans around the world believed that the hype on Adiwang is real.

Former ONE flyweight world contender Danny Kingad is also a force to reckon with in the biggest MMA promotion in Asia following yet another exciting victory over Xie Wei of China.

It was a close bout all throughout, with Xie putting the pressure on Kingad, who opted to lay back and counter. Although both men showed their best offense as they met each other at the center of the ONE Circle, it was Kingad who exhibited more poise and control. In the end, Kingad did just enough to capture the judges’ scorecards for the unanimous decision verdict.

Meanwhile, Gina Iniong will continue her role as the leading female Filipino MMA athlete with a triumphant return to professional MMA competition, outstriking Asha Roka of India across three close rounds. 

Although Roka stood in front of Iniong hunting for a knockout for the majority of the bout, it was Iniong who beat her constantly to the punch. In the end, all three judges scored the bout in favor of Iniong.

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