Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) might only come to town once a year or so, but fortunately for Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) fans big things are happening much closer to home. ONE FC has hit the ground running, booking shows in multiple cities across the continent and today it was announced that Tatsuya Kawajiri, widely regarded as the number two featherweight in the world, was the latest addition to the March 31st card at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The Crusher has an outstanding 30-7 record and has consistently faced the very best fighters in the featherweight division. The identity of his opponent has yet to be announced and there is widespread speculation that unbeaten Filipino Eric Kelly will get the call, although he is in the midst of a managerial dispute which might affect his availability.
Two fights have been confirmed for ONE FC 'War of the Lions' with Kevin Belingon taking on Masakazu Imanari in the bantamweight division and lightweights Eduard Folayang and Ole Laursen facing off in a match which was originally scheduled for the main event of ONE FC 1. Both Imanari and Kawajiri have DREAM contracts but are beneficiaries of the 'ONE FC Network' which allows fighters to move freely between selected promotions.
Belingon is the current URCC bantamweight belt holder and has beaten some decent opponents such as Justin Cruz, Nam Jin Jo and Richard Lasprilla but will have his work cut out if he wants to improve his perfect professional record to 10-0.
Imanari is probably the foremost leg lock specialist in the entire MMA world and while not the most well rounded of fighters only needs the slightest of invitations to slap on a heel hook or knee bar. Belingon has strong Wushu based striking and wrestling skills but will need to showcase some outstanding submission defence if he is to overcome the much more experienced Japanese opponent.
Folayang is the most famous mixed martial artist in the Philippines and is legendary for his ability to bounce back from adversity in order to win exciting fights. He defeated A Sol Kwon by decision at ONE FC 1 despite having his nose badly broken in the opening round and earlier this year improved his record to 11-1 after some brutal ground and pound left Brazilian Wadson Teixeira unconscious on the canvass
Laursen recently suffered a setback when he was stopped by Felipe Enomoto in the second round of a highly entertaining contest, but having promised the fans this fight last September ONE FC decided to go ahead and stick it on the card for the second show.
Evolve MMA is located in Singapore and has rapidly developed a reputation as being the most sophisticated training facility in Asia. As was the case with ONE FC 1, they are likely to have a large contingent of fighters on the March 31st card including BJJ world champion Zorobabel Moreira, who is one of the top lightweight prospects in the world, and another 155 lbs stand out, Hong Kong's Eddie Ng.
Another Asian based fighter to be added to the card is BJJ black belt Ray Elbe who is the head of the MMA program at Tiger Muay Thai and an MMA veteran with a 23-11 record. He has only fought intermittently in recent years but is very well known in the region and acquired something of a bad boy reputation when he fought twice for Martial Combat in Singapore in 2010.
ONE FC also announced that ESPN Star Sports would begin broadcasting shows as early as March. The two organizations signed a deal which guarantees ONE FC television coverage in 24 Asian countries for the next 10 years.
At the opposite end of the mixed martial arts spectrum India's longest running MMA promotion, Full Contact Championship, put on their fifth card in Mumbai on Saturday night. Amongst the notable winners are Sagar Kadu, Sangram Bhakre, Rajinder Singh Meena and Sandeep Yadav who all improved their records to 3-0 and took a step closer to being ready for international competition.
FCC 5 Fight Results
BOUT 1: (60 kgs) Sagar Kadu vs Perumal Swamy. Winner Sagar Kadu via Submission.
BOUT 2: (65kgs) Sangram Slammer Bhakre vs Mukesh Thakur. Winner, Slammer Bhakre via Arm Bar.
BOUT 3: (69 kgs) Rajinder Knockout Meena vs Dinesh Shelar. Winner, Rajinder via Standing Guillotine.
BOUT 4: (FEMALE BOUT 45kgs) Jeet Toshi vs Pooja Mehra. Winner, Jeet toshi via Unanimous decision.
BOUT 5: (72 kgs) Sandeep Power Yadav vs Amjad Khan. Winner, Power Yadav via Knockout.
BOUT 6: (75 kgs)Akshey vs Gaurav Pandey : Winner, Gaurav, via Unanimous Decision.
BOUT 7: (85kgs) Nitin Gaikwad vs Raju Shirsagar. Winner, Nitin via TKO.
BOUT 8: (85 kgs )Alfan Hashmi vs Shibashish Mad Dog Banerjee. Winner, Alfan via Submission.
BOUT 9: (WILD CARD BOUT) 65kgs. Aditya Deshpande vs Vinayak More. Winner, Aditya Deshpande via TKO