ONE Championship will return to the Philippines on July 27, and the card features the return of Renzo Gracie, Shinya Aoki and a interim title fight.
On Thursday, ONE Championship announced the main event of its upcoming Reign of Kings card in Manila, Philippines. Atop the event will be an interim bantamweight title fight between Martin Nguyen, the Asian MMA powerhouse’s featherweight and lightweight champion, and Kevin Belingon. Also added to the card, the legendary Renzo Gracie, who will come out of retirement one final time to face Yuki Kondo.
Gracie (13–7–1 (1)) hasn’t fought since 2010, a loss to Matt Hughes at UFC 112, in what was his one and only appearance inside the UFC octagon. Gracie had won three fights prior to that, against Carlos Newton, Frank Shamrock, and Pat Miletich. His return comes as no surprise, as he had announced his intention to return to MMA previously this year.
At age 51, Renzo will take on the 42-year old Yuki Kondo (60–34–9), who has been actively competing in MMA since 1996.
Also on the card in the main event, Kevin Belingon meets current ONE lightweight, and featherweight champion Martin Nyugen in a interim bantamweight championship bout. Nguyen (11-2) gets another shot at bantamweight gold at Reign of Kings, but this time it’s an interim title. Nguyen faced Bibiano Fernandes just a few months back, falling short in his bid for a third title in the promotion. However, with Fernandes now injured, he faces top 135lb’er Belingon (18-5).
Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship Chatri Sityodtong stated in a press release that “with reigning bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes not available until later this year due to injury, Kevin Belingon and Martin Nguyen will square off for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship. It’s a great match-up between two heavy-handed power punchers, and one that will surely leave fans at the edge of their seats”
Nguyen most recently successfully defended his featherweight title at ONE Championship: Unstoppable Dreams in May. There, he defeated Christian Lee.
Also on the card, Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki returns after his win at ONE 76 in a lightweight bout against Shannon Wiratchai. Aoki is looking to return to championship status in ONE championship after losing the lightweight title to Eduard Folayang in 2016, and losing to Ben Askren at welterweight in 2017. Before those losses he was coming off a win over MMA legend Sakuraba in RIZIN.
Meanwhile Shannon Wiratchai is coming off a knockout victory over Rahul K. Raju this past May, and is currently 7-1 in his last eight fights, six of those fights ending in finishes for the Thailand native.
ONE Championship: Reign of Kings takes place July 27 at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.