KOREAN featherweight Kwon Won Il came to the country in need of a respite, but things changed in an instant.
On Friday, barely six weeks since his last fight, Kwon (6-1) will enter the cage once again to take on Eric Kelly (12-6) at ONE: Roots of Honor at Mall of Asia Arena.
"I was just supposedly here for vacation and to heal up from my last fight," said the 5-foot-10 fighter, whose original intention was to recover from his first-round submission defeat to Masakazu Imanari at ONE: Call to Greatness in Singapore back in February.
Yet despite the short notice, Kwon is just happy to have a chance to fight in Manila which he considers his second home.
"This is the fifth time I am here already. I’ve been staying here for a month and a half when ONE called," he said.
What makes this event more special for Kwon is that it's in this venue where he watched ONE Championship for the first time.
"The first time I watched ONE FC is at MOA Arena. I always wanted to experience fighting in MOA Arena, and now, finally I got the chance to show the Filipino fans and all the people that I love that I’m a high-class fighter," said the Korean, who is training out of Top Gym in BF Homes, Paranaque.
As much as Kwon loves the country, though, he himself acknowledges that he'll be looked at as a villain against Kelly.
No issues here, though, as he knows that it's all fair in love and war.
"I love all the people here because they are all nice to me," he said. "I love all the things and activities that I can do here, all the malls that I can go to. That’s why it makes me come back here and love it more and more."