TEN explosive matches including those involving former world boxing champion Ana Julaton and local bet Eduard Folayang highlight the action in the ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) card this week at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Main event of the Friday meet starting at 7 p.m. is the championship bout between reigning ONE FC bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes of Brazil against Japanese Masakatsu Ueda.
The Japanese warrior, a former shooto featherweight kingpin, is perhaps the best fighter the Brazilian will be facing since he started competing in Asia.
“Expect explosive knockouts and exciting finishes in what is probably the most exciting fight card ever that will keep fans from around the world on the edge of their seats,” said ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui.
Fernandes (15-3) is a perfect 3-0 under the ONE FC banner and has three first-round finishes during his current seven-fight win streak, aside from being undefeated in three years.
Ueda (18-2-2), on the other hand, is 3-0 in his return to Asia after winning ONE FC’s bantamweight tournament.
Folayang, meanwhile, banners the co-main event when he faces tough Japanese Kotetsu Boku, a former ONE FC lightweight champion.
The Filipino, a many-time gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games, won in December 2013 against Dutch-Indonesian Vincent Latoel, while Boku scored a first-round knockout win over Arnaud Lepont only last March.
“Fans will surely love this explosive matchup of two lightweight contenders who are both gunning for a title shot,” Cui said.
Also being anticipated is the fight between Julaton and Egyptian kick-boxing champion Saber.
The California-based Julaton, who twice held the World Boxing Association (WBA) 122-pound belts, has just made the switch to MMA and will be fighting for the first time before a hometown crowd.
“I’m excited to fight infront of my ‘kababayans,’” she was quoted as saying.
Saber, on the other hand, is an Egyptina kickboxing champion and is the first female MMA fighter from Egypt to fight in ONE FC.
“I can't wait to get into the cage and beat Ana and make my fight team and family proud. Unlike Ana, I am not new to MMA,” she said.
Another high-action bout is the rematch between Australian Rob Lisita and Japanese Yusuke Kawanago.
A former Legend FC bantamweight champion who has beaten some of the best featherweights in Asia, Kawanago won over Lisita via a unanimous decision in 2012, an outcome which the Australian initially contested.
Other interesting fights include Team Lakay fighter Rey Docyogen, a former pinweight champion of the URCC, against Guam-based Joshua Alvarez, and Filipino muay thai champion Eugene Toquero versus undefeated Malaysian-American Gianni Subba.
Also worth watching is the battle between MMA newcomer Jujeath Nagaowa, the first Filipina fighting under ONE FC, and Indian seven-time kickboxing champion Jeet Toshi, who is also considered India’s pioneer MMA female fighter.
Rounding out the card are Japanese Tatsuya Mizuno and Brazilian Leandro Ataidas in the middleweight division, English James McSweeney and Australian Chris Lokteff in the heavyweight division, and Burmese Aung La Sang and Egyptian Mahmoud Salama in the middleweight division.