The action got started early this past Friday, 20 April, as the preliminary card for ONE: HEROES OF HONOR ignited the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
There were a trio of back-and-forth battles, which featured a surging strawweight contender, a local fan favorite, and the first-ever ONE Super Series contest.
Here is a summary of what went down in the ONE: HEROES OF HONOR prelims in Manila.
Regian Eersel Wins Historic Bout
Regian “The Immortal” Eersel will go down in history as the first athlete to get a win in ONE Super Series.
The 25-year-old Dutchman was able to slip past New Zealand’s Brad “Quake” Riddell in the final preliminary bout at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR.
Both Eersel and Riddell were ready to put on a show, as each kickboxer winged heavy shots at each other all throughout the three-round affair.
Despite giving up a lot of height to his Dutch opponent, Riddell was quicker on his feet, and fired away with fast punching combinations in the early going. The New Zealander did a great job moving left and right to stay away from Eersel’s power shots.
While “Quake” was faster to the punch in the second frame, Eersel’s confidence seemed to grow, as he took the Kiwi’s best shots, yet continued to move forward. Riddell eventually got locked in a clinch with Eersel, and “The Immortal” connected with a fierce knee to the body that folded his opponent in half.
Riddell recovered, but had to know that the knockdown was going to hurt him on the scorecards.
Coming into the third round, “Quake” put a ton of pressure on Eersel. Nonetheless, the Dutch combatant weathered the flurry of punches by countering with pinpoint accuracy from his hands. Also, he catapulted more knees to the body, landing each with a thud that reverberated throughout the Mall Of Asia Arena.
In the end, Eersel grabbed the unanimous decision, and picked up his 50th professional win in ONE Super Series.
Gina Iniong Thrills Home Crowd With Dominant Display
Filipina competitor Gina “Conviction” Iniong looked better than ever, as she punished former ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title challenger Jenny “Lady GoGo” Huang in all areas to earn a unanimous decision victory.
The Team Lakay warrior suffered a setback in her last bout against top ranked contender Mei Yamaguchi in November, so she definitely had something to prove to the hometown crowd.
Iniong showed off that signature Team Lakay striking with lightning-quick combinations, and tagged Huang repeatedly. Time and time again, “Conviction” was relentless with her punches, as she cracked the Taiwanese atomweight with stiff lefts and stinging rights.
The assault even led to a brief knockdown in the second round, where Iniong connected with a perfectly-timed jab that rattled, and dropped, Huang to the mat for a brief moment.
As dominant as Iniong was on the feet, she showed off a powerful ground game, too. “Conviction” effortlessly took Huang to the mat several times without any fear of the submission specialist.
Though Huang is known for her grappling, it was Iniong who was constantly threatening with the armbar, all while peppering away with punishing shots to the head and body.
When the bell rang to signify the end of the match, the Filipina was smiling from ear to ear as the atomweight contender undoubtedly earned a dominant victory. She moves her record to 7-3, and places herself back into world title contention.
Adrian Mattheis Earns Third Straight Win
Indonesia’s Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis earned his third straight victory in ONE Championship, but he did not get there without going through a serious battle with Chinese sanda champion Lan Ming Qiang.
As the action got started, an early headlock takedown from Lan backfired in a bad way, with Mattheis quickly transitioning to take his back before moving into the mount. The Indonesian was pounding away for the majority of the opening round, but an ill-fated armbar attempt allowed Lan to work his way back to the feet.
The Chinese athlete barely had the chance to exchange any strikes before he ended up back on the ground. It did not take long for “Papua Badboy” to quickly transition to Lan’s back, as he began searching for a rear-naked choke. Unfortunately for him, the first round ended before he could lock up the submission.
As dominant as Mattheis was on the ground, Lan refused to go away. He came out firing punches any time he was able to keep the action standing. The Chinese warrior blasted “Papua Badboy” with several hard shots, but the over aggression eventually led to another takedown late in the second round.
It was nearly a carbon copy in the final stanza, with Lan doing a lot of work on the feet before Mattheis was able to land a huge double leg takedown late in the contest. The Indonesian stayed in control from the mount until time ticked away.
With his hand raised in victory, Mattheis finds himself on a three-bout win streak.