By Thinesh John
ONE Fighting Championship is set to host its 4th event, titled ‘Destiny of Warriors’, on June 23rd at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The fight card features a myriad of world class fighters with exceptional talent, such as former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral, former DREAM Superstar Masakazu Imanari and former UFC Lightweight Contender, Roger Huerta.
It’s no surprise that all eyes will be set on the 10 fights that will be showcased on June 23rd. Furthermore, the Asian Mixed Martial Arts landscape will no doubt be enhanced thereafter.
With that said, here’s a preview and breakdown of the entire fight card by MMASucka.com:
Roldan Sangcha-an vs. Allamurad Karayev
Team Lakay’s Roldan Sangcha-an will not have the easiest of professional MMA debuts, as he takes on Team Muayfit’s Allamurad Karayev. The latter has been on a tear lately, finishing all of his 9 professional MMA opponents thus far. The Turkmenistan-born fighter has never allowed his fights to go past the 3rd round, and is known to make quick work of his opponents.
The 20-year-old is expected to win this tie fairly easily, when he makes his promotional debut on June 23rd. He has competed mainly in Malaysia Fighting Championship, although he most recently marked his Gods FC debut with a 12-second demolition of Umutbek Malikov.
Meanwhile, despite having to set up the barricades in just in his 1st professional bout, Sangcha-an will no doubt be wanting to make a statement of his own. The highly-touted Filipino prospect trains alongside the likes of Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon at the famed Team Lakay gym in Philippines, and will be looking to use that experience in his upcoming tilt with Karayev.
This match-up has certainly what it takes to win fight of the night honours, so do look out for fireworks in this one.
Quek Kim Hock vs. Peter Davis
Quek Kim Hock made his professional Mixed Martial Arts debut at the promotion’s ‘War of the Lions’ event, which took place earlier this year. He capped that debut with an impressive submission win over Majee ‘Major’ Overall, although he primarily showcased his tremendous Boxing credentials prior to getting the finish.
Kim Hock currently learns his trade at the Singapore-based Juggernaut Fight Club. The Singaporean holds many National Boxing accolades to his name, and is always willing to stand and trade punches with his opponent. Although he’s a known stand-up fighter, Kim Hock recently received a Bronze medal at Singapore’s National Wrestling Trials.
Peter Davis, on the other hand, is one of Team Muayft’s most prized assets. The 30-year-old has already fought 5 times in his professional MMA career, and is currently riding on a 3-fight winning streak. An occasional columnist for Men’s Health Magazine, Davis is also a member of Team Muayfit’s Elite Fight team.
Davis’ last fight took place at the ONE FC 3: Battle of Heroes event in February of this year. He marked that promotional debut with a submission win over SEA Games medallist, Ngabdi Mulyadi.
Marcos Escobar vs. Rodrigo Praxedes
Both Marcos Escobar and Rodrigo Praxedes are high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, and both fighters will be making their promotional debuts this weekend.
Unlike his opponent, Rodrigo Praxedes has already fought twice in his professional MMA career, with one of his most recent wins coming at last year’s DARE event in September, where he submitted Bodin Panjaputra via Armbar in the 1st round.
The former Pan-Pacific Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion earned his BJJ pedigree, at the famed Nova Uniao camp in Brazil. However in recent times, Praxedes has been training in Thailand with the Phuket Top Team.
His opponent, however, will be a favourite amongst the Malaysian crowd, when he strides down towards the ONE FC cage.
Marcos Escobar, a multi-time BJJ practitioner in his own right, will be fighting out of Leverage Combat Academy.
The 36-year-old will be making both his professional and promotional MMA debut on June 23rd, and may perhaps in some eyes, have a disadvantage in terms of cage experience.
However, sources have claimed to have seen Escobar training at the Nova Uniao camp with head coach Andre Pederneiras, and alongside the likes of reigning UFC Featherweight Champion José Aldo.
With that said, whatever the outcome may be, expect to see a BJJ clinic should the fight hit the mat at any point of time.
Mitch Chilson vs. AJ Lias Mansor
Mitch Chilson was a perfect 2-0 in his professional Mixed Martial Arts career, before URCC Featherweight Champion Eric Kelly submitted him at the ONE FC: Champion vs. Champion event. He has not fought since, and will be facing a very determined foe, in AJ ‘Pyro’ Lias Mansor. Both fighters are coming off losses.
Chilson needs no introduction to non-casual Asian MMA fans. The American currently trains with the likes of Eddie Ng and Grappling Maestro Shinya Aoki, at Singapore’s famed Evolve Mixed Martial Arts.
Nicknamed ‘The Dragon’, Chilson will be fighting for the 2nd time in the ONE FC cage. The 34-year-old will be looking to get his career back on track, by trying to implement his devastating Muay Thai strikes.
Chilson will be welcoming AJ ‘Pyro’ to the Singapore-based organization. ‘Pyro’ is currently 1-1 in his professional MMA career. His recent defeat came at the hands of Majee Overall at one of DARE’s events earlier this year. The Malaysian, who will be representing Borneo Tribal Squad, will perhaps face the biggest challenge yet in his MMA career.
‘Pyro’ has trained in Singapore with Juggernaut Fight Club, and is a winner of several No-Gi Grappling tournaments.
Brian Choi vs. Arnaud Lepont
Team Muayfit’s Arnaud ‘The Game’ Lepont will be entering the ONE FC cage on a 5-fight winning streak, which stretches all the way back to April, 2008. It is well worth noting that Lepont has never made it past the 3rd round, and is always on the hunt for finishes.
Lepont recently handed Krzysztof Hajtalowicz the first loss of his professional MMA career, after he submitted him via Guillotine Choke in the 1st round. ‘The Game’ holds notable victories over the likes of Seth McDowell and Muay Thai specialist, Jian Kai Chee.
The Frenchman was originally scheduled to face Evolve MMA’s Eddie Ng, but the latter pulled out of the fight after suffering an injury. And with the event set to take place in just a matter of weeks, in stepped Ng’s teammate, Brian ‘Polar Bear’ Choi, who brings a 3-1 resume to the Singapore-based promotion.
Choi is a seasoned grappler, who formerly wrestled at a collegiate level in the United States. The South-Korean holds a Blue-Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie, and has competed in many Muay Thai, Boxing and Grappling tournaments.
Prior to his lone setback against Bae Young Kwon at ROAD FC 5, Choi boasted a 3-fight winning streak that included wins over Sebastien Garguier and Isamu Himura.
Bae Young Kwon vs. Eric Kelly
One of South Korea’s and Asia’s best Featherweight prospects, Bae Young Kwon brings a 7-2 record to the ONE FC cage. Kwon held a 2-1 record during his stint in Japan’s famed Shooto organization, where he faced the likes of Tenkei Oda and Keiji Sakuta.
The 31-year-old has faced stiff competition in his professional Mixed Martial Arts Career thus far, and is currently looking to build more momentum and extend his 3-fight winning streak, that includes wins over Brian Choi and reigning URCC Lightweight Champion Honorio Banario, at ROAD FC 5 and ONE FC 2: Battle of Heroes respectively.
And his upcoming opponent is no slouch either. Eric Kelly is the reigning URCC Featherweight Champion, who, like his opponent, will be stepping into the promotion’s cage for the 2nd time.
Kelly was last seen at the organization’s inaugural ‘Champion vs. Champion’ event, where he submitted Evolve MMA’s Mitch Chilson, via Rear-Naked Choke, in less than 3.5 minutes of the 1st round. He now sets his eyes on a very formidable opponent, who will undoubtedly be looking to put a dent on the URCC Featherweight Champion’s unbeaten career.
Kelly has finished all of his 6 professional MMA bouts via submission, and has never made it past the 1st round.
Gregor Gracie vs. Adam Kayoom
Malaysian-born Adam Kayoom has won a myriad of accolades relating to Martial Arts, throughout his life. The 34-year-old holds Black-Belts in Akido, Tae Kwon Do and Karate.
Kayoom is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, and was given his BJJ Black-Belt by Ricardo Liborio, one of the founders of American Top-Team.
Also a Muay Thai champion, Kayoom brings a 2-1 resume to the ONE FC promotion, having competed in various organizations such as DARE, Legend FC and XFC.
His upcoming opponent, Gregor Gracie, will perhaps be his toughest challenge to date.
Gregor Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black-Belt in his own right, and even coaches BJJ alongside the legendary Renzo Gracie, at the Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in New York City.
He is 6-1 in his professional MMA career, where 5 of his 6 wins have come by submission. The 25-year-old Brazilian last faced Seok Mo Kim at the promotion’s ‘Champion vs. Champion’ event, where he won by decision.
Leandro Issa vs. Masakazu Imanari
Arguably one of the most anticipated bouts of this stacked fight card, the ONE FC officials could not have thought of an even sweeter match-up.
Evolve MMA’s Leandro Issa has won numerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu championships, and holds a professional MMA record of 9-2.
He is currently riding on a 6-fight winning streak that includes 5 stoppages via submission. Commonly known as ‘Brodinho’, Issa’s last fight was against Soo Chul Kim at ONE FC: Champion vs. Champion. He won the fight via Unanimous Decision.
Imanari, meanwhile, needs no introduction to non-casual MMA fans worldwide. He is best known for his devastating leg-locks, hence earning the moniker ‘Ashikan Judan’.
The Japanese fighter has faced some of the best fighters that Mixed Martial Arts has to offer, such as Hideo Tokoro, former UFC competitor Antonio Banuelos, Abel Cullum, Joachim Hansen and most recently, Kevin Belingon.
Also known for his unusual stance and style of fighting, the ‘Ashikan Judan’ will no doubt be looking to pull guard, and attempt to do what he does best.
Imanari is 3-2 in his past 5 fights, despite dropping decision losses to the likes of Antonio Banuelos and Hideo Tokoro at the now defunct DREAM Fighting Championship.
He last faced Team Lakay’s Kevin Belingon at ONE FC 3: War of the Lions, where he handed the Filipino fighter the first setback of his career by submitting him with a reversed Heel-hook.
Co-Main Event: Zorobabel Moreira vs. Roger Huerta
At one point in time, former UFC competitor Roger Huerta was regarded as one of the top Lightweights in the world. He held a record of 21-1-1 in just 3 years, in which he garnered wins over the likes of Clay Guida and Leonard Garcia.
His incredible run, however, was ended by former UFC contender Kenny Florian at UFC 87. This was Huerta’s 2nd defeat in just 5 years.
Since that loss, Huerta has only won once in his past 5 fights, with the lone win coming against Chad Hinton at Bellator 13. ‘El Matador’ is currently on a 3-fight losing streak, falling short against the likes of Pat Curran and Eddie Alvarez.
Phil Baroni, a former PRIDE and UFC veteran, was originally slated to face Roger Huerta at ONE FC 4: Destiny of Warriors. However, following Baroni’s loss to Chris Holland at the Ring of Fire 43 event, Huerta was apparently not interested in facing the New York Bad Ass anymore. Instead, ONE Fighting Championship opted to replace Baroni with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, Zorobabel Moreira.
Fighting out of Evolve MMA, Zorobabel ‘Zoro’ Moreira brings a 6-1 resume to the ONE FC cage. This will be the 3nd time that ‘Zoro’ fights in the Singapore-based promotion, following his submission win over Felipe Enomoto at ONE FC 3: War of the Lions and a decision win over TUF veteran Andy Wang at the promotion’s ‘Champion vs. Champion’ event.
The Brazilian Mixed Martial Artist is held in high regard by Evolve MMA’s founder and CEO, Yodchatri Sityodtong.
He is currently on a 4-fight winning streak, and will have to be at his best when he takes on ‘El Matador’.
Main Event: Renato Sobral vs. Tatsuya Mizuno
Renato Sobral was originally slated to face former Strikeforce competitor Melvin Manhoef at ONE FC 3: War of the Lions, but had to pull out after having commitments as the Wrestling Coach of Team Wanderlei Silva, on the UFC’s TUF: Brazil reality show.
‘Babalu’ has faced some of the best fighters in the world, such as Chael Sonnen, Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, Robbie Lawler, ‘Shogun’ Rua and former DREAM and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, Gegard Mousasi.
The Brazilian formerly competed in the UFC and Strikeforce.
He currently holds a record of 36-9, with his most recent loss coming at the hands of Dan Henderson. The 36-year-old is 6-4 in his last 10 professional bouts.
He currently trains at the Gracie Berra Cerritos, and is a 2nd degree Black-Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Tatsuya Mizuno, on the other hand, is a worthy foe. The Japanese fighter has faced some of the best Light Heavyweights in the world, such as Mirko ‘Cro Cop’, Thiago Silva, Melvin Manhoef and Gegard Mousasi.
The 31-year-old has competed mainly in Pancrase, DREAM and most recently, ProElite.
A 3rd dan Black-Belt in Judo, Mizuno will be making his promotional debut on June 23rd. The Japanese fighter holds a professional MMA record of 11-7, and is 3-2 in his past 5 fights.
All in all, ONE Fighting Championship has put on a stacked card in front of the Malaysian audience, which will no doubt help scale Asian MMA to greater heights.
The fight card is filled with renowned fighters, which just makes one ponder about what ONE FC has in store for MMA enthusiasts in the future.