There are a lot of things to look forward to in 2021, especially for fans of mixed martial arts who were, in a way, deprived of some of the biggest potential matches in 2020.
Last year, however, ONE Championship still found ways to deliver some of the best shows, but given the travel restrictions, plus the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, the year certainly could have been better.
This year could change all that, though, especially with the possible matches in store for local fans. If there was one thing 2020 did give us, it was the rise of several athletes who could challenge the promotion’s best.
1) Joshua Pacio vs Bokang Masunyane
Many people are excited to see reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio close his trilogy with Yosuke “The Ninja” Saruta, and while that is most likely to happen this year, a fresh matchup for Pacio after the series could be Bokang “The Little Giant” Masunyane.
The South African left an impression before the year ended as he knocked out former ONE Strawweight World Title challenger Rene “The Challenger” Catalan in just 37 seconds.
With Pacio holding wins over four of the five contenders in the division, Masunyane presents an interesting new challenge for “The Passion” because he’s a wrestler who also packs power in his strikes.
For Pacio, a win here would only add to his young career’s growing legacy.
2) Denice Zamboanga vs Meng Bo
Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga, the current ONE women’s atomweight number one contender, probably won’t face the reigning World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee this year given the latter’s transition to motherhood.
That doesn’t mean the atomweight division will be without action.
With Lee taking her well-deserved break, focus now shifts on pitting Zamboanga against second-ranked contender Meng Bo. The match could potentially be a classic given their willingness to stand and trade.
This bout could also not get any bigger for the two. Meng has won her last five bouts, while Zamboanga has yet to taste defeat in eight matches. Winner gets Lee when she’s ready to return. Everyone wins.
3) Geje Eustaquio vs Reece McLaren
Given how long Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio and Reece “Lightning” McLaren have been in ONE Championship, it’s surprising to see that they haven’t crossed paths yet.
However, this could be the year they meet.
McLaren has said he wants to face the former ONE Flyweight World Champion, and given that they were both successful in their matches in 2020, these two may square off in the near future.
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