The full card for ONE Fighting Championship 'Battle of Heroes' was released today with a couple of fights which caught MMA fans by surprise. It had already been revealed that Bob Sapp would be facing Rolles Gracie but this will only be the opening bout of the five fight main card.
Ole Laursen was originally penciled in for the main event at ONE FC 1 but had to pull out due to injury. He has been out of action for over a year but will make his long awaited return to the cage to take on Swiss Japanese lightweight Felipe Enomoto.
Enomoto has fought once in Japan before, defeating veteran Taku Aramaki at Pancrase in 2010, but he has really made a name for himself on the European scene. He defeated TUF 13 contestant Hamid 'Akira' Corassani by decision only to see the promoter subsequently change the outcome to a no contest and also beat TUF 9 preliminary fighter AJ Wenn by unanimous decision.
Ole Laursen's first two fights were both for K-1 Heroes and he posted losses to Genki Sudo and Caol Uno although to his credit he did go the full three rounds with Sudo on his professional debut. It is fitting that, after running up five straight wins, he will get his chance to finally defeat a Japanese opponent at ONE FC 'Battle of Heroes'.
Laursen is very much an unknown quantity, he looked spectacular in submitting experienced Brazilian Eduardo Pachu at Martial Combat 1 (see below, apologies for epic intro) but never quite recaptured the same sort of form in his last two fights, although he still walked away from both with victories.
Ole Baguio Laursen vs Eduardo 'Edu' Pachu - part 1 (via neilfireballkid)
Ole Baguio Laursen vs Eduardo 'Edu' Pachu - part 2 (via neilfireballkid)
After a kickboxing, Muay Thai and K-1 career which began back in 2000 and has seen him face the likes of Buakaw Por Pramuk, Andy Souwer, Duane Ludwig and Masato there is some suggestion that Laursen needs a major challenge at a significant event in order to motivate him.
A headline fight for the biggest MMA promotion in Asia seems to have been enough to fuel that fire and Laursen has returned to his native Philippines in order to prepare for Enomoto. After admitting to taking training a little too easy before his last two fights he is leaving nothing to chance this time around and is ready to take revenge for the only two losses of his MMA career by finally recording a win over a Japanese opponent.
Another fight which has got a lot of fans in Asia talking is Eric Kelly vs Bae Young Kwon. Both fighters are coming off the biggest wins of their careers and carry a lot of momentum into this contest. The Filipino is the URCC Featherweight Champion and has submitted every opponent he has ever faced, his record currently stands at 6-0.
Unlike his opponent, Bae Young Kwon has tasted defeat on two occasions although he has fought for both M-1 and Shooto, as well as Road FC in Korea, and would probably argue that he has faced a slightly higher level of opposition than Kelly.
After only ever having fought in the Philippines there were question marks over Kelly going into his fight with Mitch Chilson at ONE FC 1 but he answered them emphatically, sinking in a rear naked choke from a seemingly impossible angle (see below). That win earned him $5,000 for 'Submission of the Night' and he will be hoping to pick up another pay cheque if he can do the same thing to Kwon.
One Fighting Championship - Eric Kelly (Philippines) vs. Mitch Chilson (USA) (via neilfireballkid)
Rounding off the five fight main card are bouts between Soo Chul Kim and Gustavo Falciroli and Rodrigo Ribeiro and Rustam Khabilov. The bout between Ribeiro and Khabilov is particularly intriguing because it pits a Combat Sambo World Champion against a BJJ world champion and will also be the first time that fighters from Evolve MMA and Jackson's Grappling Academy have met in MMA competition.
Evolve MMA has a reputation as being the finest training facility in all of Asia and Jackson's Grappling Academy is probably the cream of the crop in the West. Chatri Sityodtong and Greg Jackson were named by MSN Sports as two of the top head coaches of the year in 2011 (see that article here) and this will be an opportunity for them to pit their wits against one another.
Soo Chul Kim lost a close decision to Leandro Issa at ONE FC 1 and the bad news for the Korean is that his next opponent is also a ground fighting expert, Falciroli is the Cage Fighting Championships bantamweight champion and has a second degree BJJ back belt.
The five fight undercard is likely to feature a number of local fighters and will probably be released later this week. ONE FC currently have events booked in Singapore in March and Kuala Lumpur in April with shows in Manila and Seoul also supposedly close to being confirmed.