Belingon, Banario up to the challenge as ONE unveils new battlefield in Manila

For the first time in ONE Championship’s seven-year history, their mixed martial arts contests will be held in the ring instead of in the cage when the promotion holds ONE: HEROES OF HONOR at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on April 20.

The promotion recently announced that all 11 bouts at the event are expected to be held inside the new ring, including bouts that are officiated under the organization’s Global Rule Set.

This is ONE Championship’s paying homage to the athletes who elevated combat sports to where it is today, by having all bouts in its 13th venture on Philippine shores inside the promotion’s brand new five-rope ring.

If it can be said that if there the ultimate proving grounds of combat sports, there is nothing more closely associated with that field than a roped platform famously referred to as “The Squared Circle” where many martial arts and boxing practitioners invested blood, sweat and tears within the four corners of the ring just to have their hand raised and become legends in their respective fields.

Former world title contender Kevin Belingon, who is slated to face Andrew Leone in the main event, welcomed the promotion’s transition from cage to ring for its live event in Manila with open arms because during the early part of his career, he started out competing inside the ring.

“I was surprised when I found out that my next bout would take place inside the ring. It brings a lot of memories because my first few fights were held inside the ring. I have no problem of competing inside the ring again. I am always ready,” Belingon stated.

According to Belingon, he has bigger chance to brandish a stand-up battle in his upcoming bout with Leone under such condition.

“Fighting inside the ring or cage is the same for me. But for sure, I will use my experience inside the ring this coming April 20th. I will make sure that the action stays at the center of the ring. If it stays there, it will be easier for me to dictate the pace of the bout,” the 30-year-old Baguio City resident explained.

Meanwhile, Belingon’s teammate Honorio Banario shared that some grappling techniques will be limited inside the ring.

“There are some things that you can’t do inside the ring, especially in the grappling aspect of the fight. The angles inside the ring are hugely different as you’re fighting within a square because the ropes bend more and the corners are harder to elude. It’s challenging, but I like a challenge,” the ex-ONE Featherweight World Champion pointed out.

Banario, who is booked to square off with Australia’s Adrian Pang, bared that he made a few adjustments upon learning that his next assignment will be held inside the ring.

“The ring offers a whole slew of different variables that a cage concept cannot offer. We made slight adjustments because since 2012, my bouts were held inside the cage. But it’s fine with me. The ring will allow me to strike more,” Banario said.

Also making its debut during the event is the highly-anticipated ONE Super Series, a new iteration in ONE Championship’s efforts to bring martial arts to the forefront in mainstream culture.

The premiere offering for Manila’s ONE Super Series is a three-round kickboxing encounter, featuring international superstar Giorgio Petrosyan of Italy who takes on “Smokin’” Jo Nattawut of Thailand.

In other ONE Super Series match-ups, celebrated Thai kickboxer Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is scheduled to duke it out with French-Italian dynamo Fabio Pinca in a three-round Muay Thai tussle.

Elliot Compton shares the ring with Cosmo Alexandre in a Muay Thai clash, while Brad Riddell locks horns with Regian Eersel in a kickboxing bout.

ONE Super Series competitors will either use ten-ounce or eight-ounce boxing gloves depending on the weight of the athletes.

Unlike its mixed martial arts counterpart, Muay Thai and kickboxing matches in ONE Super Series will be scored in a ten-point must system and will be contested in three three-minute rounds.

By: ARMANDO BOLISLIS.

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