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ONE Championship books Renzo Gracie’s return for July, interim bantamweight title fight

Renzo Gracie Photos
Renzo Gracie returns to action for the first time since 2010.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

ONE Championship will return to Manila on July 27, and the card will feature Renzo Gracie in action versus fellow MMA veteran Yuki Kondo, ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced Thursday.

The event also includes Martin Nguyen vs. Kevin Belingon for the interim bantamweight title and a match-up between Shinya Aoki and Shannon Wiratchai. According to Sityodtong, former champion Eduard Folayang is also expected to fight that night in Manila.

Gracie (13-7-1, 1 no-contest) hasn’t fought since April 2010, when he lost via third-round TKO to Matt Hughes in his first and only appearance inside the UFC cage. Gracie was riding a three-fight winning streak prior to UFC 112 with victories over Frank Shamrock, Carlos Newton and Pat Miletich. Gracie told MMA Fighting that the fight is taking place at 185 pounds.

Kondo (59-34-9), a former UFC, PRIDE, Pacrase and Sengoku veteran, who challenged Tito Ortiz for the UFC belt 18 years ago, looks to get back on track following a second-round stoppage loss to Jutaro Nakao last December.

The interim bantamweight title bout is another attempt to crown Nguyen (11-2) a three-division champion after he lost a decision to Bibiano Fernandes in March. He bounced back to the winning column by defending his featherweight title in May.

Sityodtong wrote on social media that his original plan was to book Fernandes vs. Belingon “as soon as possible, but Bibi has had an ankle injury for the last several weeks.” Belingon (18-5) won five in a row since his first-round loss to Fernandes in Jan. 2016, including three knockouts.

Aoki (40-8, 1 no-contest) and Wiratchai (9-2, 1 no-contest) are both coming off first-round victories under the ONE banner. Aoki, a former lightweight champion, submitted Rasul Yakhyaev last month, while Wiratchai stopped Rahul Raju in 21 seconds in March.

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