A preview of the four main card fights for the upcoming ONE FC: "Rise of Kings" event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday night (Oct. 6, 2012) via pay-per-view (PPV).
The second half of the ONE FC: 'Rise of the Kings' card features some of the promotion's big guns like Melvin Manhoef and Shinya Aoki as well as title shots for two up and coming Brazilian stars, Leandro Issa and Zorobabel Moreira.
The main event will be Aoki's ONE FC debut with the Japanese fighter looking to demonstrate why he is regarded by many as being one of the best lightweights in the world after suffering a rare loss at the hands of Eddie Alvarez earlier this year.
The Japanese fighter is based in Singapore and trains at Evolve MMA, which is also home to Moreira and Issa and these three fighters should have the support of the home crowd. The welterweight title will be on the line when Moreira goes up against Japan's Kotetsu Boku while Issa will be rematching Soo Chul Kim for the bantamweight strap.
185 lbs: Melvin Manhoef vs Ryo Kawamura
Manhoef went three rounds for the first time in his entire career earlier this month, beating Jae Young Kim by split decision. It was the first time in 36 fights that the feared Dutch kickboxer has even made it into the third round but he was inhibited by a slippery cage surface which prevented him from throwing kicks.
He need have no such concerns fighting for ONE FC for the second time and will be looking to use all the skills in his standup arsenal against Kawamura. The Japanese fighter is Pancrase middleweight champion and is aggressive and likes to use his hands.
He might want to try a different approach against Manhoef who is probably the best striker competing at 185 lbs in all of MMA at present. If Kawamura does decide to stand and trade with the K-1 veteran we could be looking at fight of the night, Manhoef has been knocked out before and the Japanese fighter might decide it is worth the risk of taking a few shots if it means he can get in range to land a big right hand.
This is a rematch of a fight which took place at the first ever ONE FC show when Kim gave a good account of himself but was beaten by unanimous decision by the Brazilian. Issa has an outstanding 10-2 record and is coming off a win over Masakazu Imanari while Kim is 6-4 but is coming off impressive back to back wins against Shoku Sato and Kevin Belingon.
The Korean is just 20 years old and improving all the time but, although he is good at every aspect of MMA, he does not excel at anything. Issa is a BJJ black belt and world champion grappler and, after being frustrated by Kim's submission defence last time they fought, he might have some new tricks up his sleeve this time around.
Issa will also benefit from the nine months or so he has spent training with Heath Sims at Evolve MMA and his improved wrestling should allow him to dictate where the fight takes place better than he did the first time around. Kim's cardio is outstanding and he could come into his own if the fight goes into the championship rounds but he will find it difficult to finish Issa, who also has solid Muay Thai.
Moreira is one of the top lightweight prospects in the world and has won his last five fights to run up a 7-1 record. Kotetsu Boku might not be well known outside of Japan but he's been around for over a decade and has been in there with some world class opponents.
Moreira is a BJJ black belt but it is his Muay Thai which has caught the eye in recent fights. He is five inches taller than Boku and will probably look to utilize his reach with teeps, knees, elbows and low kicks but he will need to have his wits about him because the Japanese veteran will plant his feet and throw bombs.
The Brazilian will have an advantage on the ground but he doesn't tend to look for takedowns. I expect him to pick Boku apart in the stand up exchanges and possibly knock him off his feet with some Muay Thai style sweeps but Moreira doesn't have too much head movement and if one of Boku's 'home run hooks' finds a home it will be lights out.
155 lbs: Shinya Aoki vs Arnaud Lepont
Lepont has earned his title shot by running up an outstanding 9-1 record but there is no question who the favourite will be when he takes on the DREAM lightweight champion. Aoki is the best lightweight in Asia and after suffering a setback against Alvarez he will be looking to put on a show when he makes his ONE FC debut.
Aoki's ground game is perhaps the best in the business and he has excellent Judo and has reportedly been working hard with Heath Sims at Evolve MMA on his wrestling. The most interesting aspect of this contest will be to see how the Japanese fighter's Muay Thai matches up against Lepont's standup.
Much has been made of the improvement in Aoki's stand up and he might feel he has the tools to win a striking contest with the French fighter. Lepont is not the most technical but he has power and aggression and hits hard so even if Aoki enjoys some early success with his striking, which he might, he needs to not get overconfident or he could get punished.
Lepont also has a tremendous amount of heart and has been hurt and rocked in recent fights but still somehow found a way to win. Aoki is the odds on favourite for good reason, and if he can take the fight to the ground he should win comfortably, but for as long as both men are on their feet an upset is at least a possibility.
ONE FC: ‘Rise of the Kings’ will be headlined by a bout between Shinya Aoki and Arnaud Lepont. The online stream will be $10 USD and it will also be available on pay-per-view (PPV) in the US for the first time.
For more information visit: www.onefc.com