ONE FC: "Kings & Champions" went down in Singapore last weekend (live results here) and while Asia's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is rapidly expanding its roster, with every event the picture becomes increasingly clearer in terms of who the major players in each of the divisions are.
One match up which is inevitable is the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix final between Kevin Belingon and Masakatsu Ueda with both men registering impressive victories in Singapore last Friday night. That fight looks set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on May 31st, but the rest of the fights listed here are merely my suggestions.
Kevin Belingon vs Masakatsu Ueda
This one is already a done deal because both have qualified for the final of the ONE FC Bantamweight GP and it sounds like the final is set for Manila on May 31st. Belingon (11-2) beat Yusup Saadulaev and Thanh Vu in the opening rounds while Ueda (16-2-2) got past Ming Sung Jong and Jens Pulver.
If there is one thing which we have learned about the Filipino over the course of his last two fights it is that his striking is world class but Ueda is a submission specialist who will have a clear advantage on the ground. Belingon's takedown defence looked superb against Saadulaev and he with ONE FC: "Rise to Power" set to take place at the 20,000 capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena he will have the crowd firmly behind him when he takes on the Japanese veteran.
Arnaud Lepont vs Roger Huerta
Arnaud Lepont's record ONE FC dropped to 1-2 after the loss to Eddie Ng but the French fighter is never in a boring match up. Three of his last four fights have been "fight of the year" contenders with Lepont coming from behind to beat Krzysztof Hajtalowicz and Brian Choi and just coming up short against Eddie Ng.
Lepont's propensity for getting in back and forth wars makes him an ideal opponent for Roger Huerta who is 0-1 in ONE FC and 21-7-1-1 overall. Huerta is, of course, coming off that brutal soccer kick knockout loss to Zorobabel Moreira but would still be a favorite against Lepont (9-3) and regardless of the outcome this would be guaranteed to be an extremely entertaining lightweight contest.
Issa's impressive win over Yusup Saadulaev improves his ONE FC record to 3-1 and while he probably needs at least one more win to get another title shot the Brazilian is definitely a contender. Diaz was originally part of the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix but had to withdraw due to injury and a match up between these two would make a lot of sense.
Diaz is a Filipino Canadian former King of the Cage champion with a 13-13 record who has been out of action since 2010. He is based at Tiger Muay Thai and is a proven finisher of fights, as he's only been the distance twice in his entire career. Issa (11-3) is a jiu-jitsu black belt who would have a height and reach advantage but Diaz is Canadian Muay Thai champion with seven submission wins to his name and I think this would be a very competitive match-up.
Eddie Ng vs Peter Davis
Both lightweights are 3-0 inside the ONE FC cage, with three stoppage wins, and 6-1 overall. Both are working their way up the lightweight rankings and sooner or later their paths will inevitably cross.
Ng is one of the most exciting prospects in Asia and the Hong Kong native registered the most impressive win of his career last weekend when he returned from injury to submit Davis' team mate Arnaud Lepont in the second round. The Malaysian is coming off a first round stoppage win over Leo Krishna and if both fighters keep winning then, sooner or later, their paths are going to cross.
Silva registered his first ever win inside the ONE FC cage when he submitted Wushu world champion Rene Catalan last Friday night and is now 2-0 overall while Subba's entire professional career has been spent fighting for ONE FC and he is 2-0.
Silva is a jiu-jitsu black belt and his ground game is as good as anyone's in the division but Subba is significantly taller and showed how dangerous his striking can be when he dropped Bruce Loh with a left hook and then stopped him with a soccer kick last October.
Boku is dropping down to to 145 pounds after losing his title to Shinya Aoki and Kelly is coming off the first loss of his career at the hands of Honorio Banario. Boku's now 1-1 for ONE FC and 20-8-2 overall while Kelly is 3-1 for ONE FC and 9-1 overall.
With both men competing in the same division and both coming off unsuccessful title shots it would make sense to match them together, The winner would instantly become a strong contender for a shot at the 145-pound belt while the loser would be left picking up the pieces after back-to-back defeats.
The first fight ended controversially with Wiratchai falling foul of the ONE FC rules the time when he soccer kicked Chilson without waiting for a signal from the referee. It was subsequently changed to a "no contest" but in light of the unsatisfactory ending a rematch would make sense.
Chilson is 3-1-1 overall and 2-1-0-1 in ONE FC while Wiratchai is 2-1-0-1 overall and 0-1-0-1 for ONE FC. Both are looking to work their way up the featherweight rankings and with lingering controversy over the outcome of the first fight this seems an obvious matchup.