ONE Fighting Championship: 'Rise to Power' is the Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) card of the year so far with two title fights, a grand prix final and the likes of Honorio Banario, Bibiano Fernandes, Phil Baroni, Masakatsu Ueda and Kevin Belingon in action.
The show is set for the 20,000 capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena with the first fight due to start at 6:30 a.m. ET. I previewed the first half of the card here and this is my guide to the final five fights at ONE FC: "Rise to Power."
Phil Baroni's last visit to Manila was one of the most satisfactory moments of his recent career ending in an emphatic first round knockout win over Brazilian Rodrigo Ribeiro. He will be looking to register a repeat of that performance when he takes on hard-hitting Japanese fighter Nobutatsu Suzuki.
Baroni (15-16) is looking to put together a title run with ONE FC but Suzuki (9-1-2) has nine knockout wins to his name and could move into immediate title contention himself with a win against "The New York Badass."
Suzuki likes to move forward and put pressure on opponents by backing them up and looking to land a big punch or knee. He is one of very few MMA fighters to throw "long knees" and is capable of stepping in and landing them from distance, a technique normally associated with Muay Thai.
It's no secret that Baroni likes to bang and isn't afraid to go toe-to-toe, which could make for an explosive first round, but the Pride, Strikeforce and UFC veteran has had some stamina issues of late and Suzuki might look to exploit that by dragging this fight into the latter rounds and then looking for the stoppage.
Yasuhiro Urushitani is a former Shooto champion and the top 125-pounder in Asia at present, a point he will be looking to prove emphatically by beating the best flyweight in the Philippines in front of 20,000 fans in Manila.
Docyogen (10-1) is coming off a disappointing loss to Shinichi Kojima which the Filipino was winning until he got caught in a guillotine toward the end of round two. A similar mistake against Urushitani (19-6-6) will likely prove fatal and the Team Lakay fighter will have to execute his gameplan to perfection if he wants to prevail against a bigger and much more experienced opponent.
Having outstruck Kojima for the best part of two minutes, Docyogen should be confident in his stand-up game and in particular his ability to land kicks. He will need to get in and out very quickly against Urushitani who will bide his time and look to counterstrike.
With world class Wushu and excellent stamina, Docyogen has the tools to win but it is essential that he keeps his composure and doesn't give Urushitani obvious opportunities to either counter him or take the fight to the ground.
Belingon has become a much more seasoned fighter after four appearances inside the ONE FC cage. His strength will always be his striking but he demonstrated much improved takedown defense in his fight against Yusup Sadulaev.
Ueda (16-2-2) is 10 years older and a seasoned veteran who is a former Shooto champion and very rarely loses a fight. Although stronger on the ground, he is a southpaw with a very solid left kick who is comfortable fighting on his feet.
Belingon (11-2) is lighter on his feet and will look to land more strikes than his opponent but no one has ever stopped Ueda by knockout or technical knockout. If the Filipino can keep it standing and use his speed and footwork to good effect, he could win a decision because he has the stamina to set a faster pace than the 35 year-old Japanese veteran.
I expect Ueda to bide his time and look for a chance to take the fight to the floor, but if Belingon takes too many risks in the striking exchanges, the Bellator veteran is good enough to capitalize, most probably by landing a brutal body kick.
The ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix is on the line and this is one of the most anticipated fights on the entire card. It should be close and competitive but Ueda's experience makes him a clear favorite.
Honorio Banario vs Koetsu Okazaki
Bibiano Fernandes was recently branded the best pound-for-pound fighter outside of the UFC and it's difficult to disagree with that assessment. He is certainly the most successful, having won the Dream Bantamweight Grand Prix, Dream Featherweight Grand Prix as well as holding the Dream titles at both 135 and 145 pounds.
If Fernandes (13-2) can beat Koetsu Okazaki (8-2-1) he could effectively unify the Dream and ONE FC belts in the same way Shinya Aoki has done although only an interim version of the title will be on the line on Friday night as the injured Soo Chul Kim still holds the regular belt.
In his last fight Fernandes, who is one of the most decorated grapplers in the entire MMA world, showed of his ground game to submit Yoshiro Maeda, but he is equally capable of finishing fights with his striking.
Okazaki is likely to be completely outmatched on the floor but he does have a couple of knockout wins and will want to keep it standing and land a big right hand. It's going to be difficult because Fernandes is without doubt one of the best bantamweights in the world and is better at him than absolutely everything.
Okazaki is one of three former Shooto champions on the card and bad fighters don't win those belts but it's going to be very tough for him against Fernandes. The biggest question could be whether the Brazilian turns on the style and finishes the fight or is pushed all the way in this five rounder.
Honorio Banario vs Koiji Oishi
The discrepancy in terms of experience in this fight is stunning with Oishi a veteran (23-9-10) a veteran of over 40 fights who made his UFC debut when Banario (8-1) was just 12 years old.
Banario beating Eric Kelly to win the ONE FC Featherweight World Title was something of an upset but he is a very talented fighter with a strong standup game who is big for a featherweight.
Oishi tends to go the distance, he's done so 32 times in his career, but Banario trains at altitude in Baguio and is renowned for having outstanding cardio, which could make it a long night for the 35 year-old if the fight goes into the championship rounds.
Banario is not renowned for his ground game but Oishi doesn't have a single submission win to his name so that shouldn't be a problem for the Filipino. What the Japanese veteran does have is power in his hands and the champion will have to keep his wits about him during the standup exchanges.
In terms of power, Banario is at a disadvantage because his striking is very technical but he sometimes struggles to put opponents away. That could hand the initiative to Oishi, who does have one punch knockout power, but I think the Baguio-born fighter will have a significant advantage in terms of speed.
If Banario wants to avoid losing his title at the first time of asking he will need to find a way to implement his striking without allowing Oishi to land one of his big right hands. He has the tools to retain the belt and send the Filipino fans home happy in the process, but needs to fight with patience and composure to begin with and then step up the pace as the fight progresses.
There you have it.
ONE FC: "Rise to Power" is being shown by numerous local broadcasters in places like Cambodia and Canada but you need to check local listing for details. The entire card is available online for $9.99 here.