Asia's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion returns to Jakarta this Friday (Sept. 13, 2013) for ONE FC: "Champions & Warriors," which is headlined by a flyweight non-title bout between up and coming American Andrew Leone and Japanese veteran Shinichi Kojima.
The card consists of 11 fights featuring the usual eclectic mix of Asian and Asian-based fighters with a handful of mixed martial artists from the United States, Africa and Australia thrown in for good measure. The show is set for the 15,000 seat Istora Senayan Stadium in Jakarta and will get underway at 6:30 pm local time (7:30 a.m. ET).
Here's my preview of the first six fights:
Brianata Rosadhi vs. Raymond Tan
Both fighters are 1-0 but that is where the similarities end. Brianata Rosadhi is an experienced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competitor who is very comfortable on the ground but has an extremely basic level of striking.
Tan is nearly six feet tall and will have a massive height and reach advantage. His striking is slightly better than his ground game and much will depend on how he copes with the weight cut as he is reported to be looking to lose close to eight kilos.
If Rosadhi can get the fight to the ground I expect him to win by submission but if Tan can implement a game plan which must surely consist of trying to keep the Indonesian on the end of a stiff jab, then he could pick him apart and claim a memorable win for his native Malaysia.
Almiro Barros vs. Kian Pham
Almiro Barros (0-0) is a seasoned BJJ competitor who once won a silver medal at the Mundials but Kian Pham (5-6) is an experienced mixed martial artist who has plenty of cage time under his belt. The Australian Vietnamese fighter has a purple belt in BJJ, which might help him to survive if the fight gets to the ground, but the Brazilian has a black belt and will be at a clear advantage in the submission game.
Presumably the plan for Pham will be to neutralize Barros' game plan by keeping the fight standing. The Brazilian has been training under the team of Muay Thai and boxing world champions at Evolve MMA for almost four years so his striking is likely to be improving rapidly, but his strength will always be the submission game.
Although Barros is making his debut he has a huge amount of experience in martial arts terms, while Pham has been competing inside the cage since 2007, and that could make for a close, competitive fight which might well go the full three rounds.
Long Sophy vs Max Metino
This fight, which pits two debutants together, is one which probably won't be going the distance. Long Sophy is a Kun Khmer (Cambodian equivalent to Muay Thai) champion with over 100 fights under his belt while Max Metino is a BJJ purple belt who has won numerous submission grappling competitions.
Sophy is part of the A Fighter team in Phnom Penh who work together everyday on their takedown defense and grappling while Metino has been involved in MMA for a decade and has experience in boxing, Wushu and Taekwondo.
If Metino can get the fight to the ground he should be able to swiftly submit Sophy but if the Cambodian succeeds in instigating striking exchanges he can win by knockout. Both fighters have trained extensively on their weaknesses and are relatively well-rounded, but I still see this as a straight grappler vs striker match-up.
Caros Fodor vs. Yang Seung Ho
This match-up has somewhat slipped under the radar despite being one of the best fights on the card. Caros Fodor (7-3) was brutally unlucky to get cut from the UFC after one highly disputable split-decision loss and will be looking to get in immediate contention for a shot at the ONE FC lightweight title.
His opponent is Yang Seung Ho (6-0) who despite his strong record remains relatively unknown. The Korean could change all that with a win over Fodor but his wins have not been over top level opponents and he is taking a big step up in opposition against the UFC and Strikeforce veteran.
Ho has never lost yet and Phuket Top Team, the camp where he is based, are reportedly upbeat about his chances. You never know how good an up-and-coming prospect is until they get tested and this fight will tell us a lot about the prospects of Yang while Fodor will be looking to demonstrate that he is still one of the top lightweights in the world with a dominant victory.
It's not easy being a heavyweight in South East Asia. Just ask Vincent Majid who has won submission grappling competitions and competed in Combat Sambo and kickboxing but has never been able to find an opponent big enough to face him inside the cage.
Majid has dropped down to 205 pounds and will be making his pro debut against Eugenio Tan (1-1) who trains under ONE FC fighter Melvin Yeoh in Malaysia. The Indonesian is a highly-touted prospect who reportedly trains very hard and will be looking to establish himself as a possible future contender for the light heavyweight belt with an impressive win over Tan.
Despite his comparative lack of MMA experience, Majid has been training his striking, wrestling and ground game for many years and comes into this as a slight favorite. With both men dropping down from heavyweight, much will depend on how they cope with the weight cut.
Bruno Pucci vs. Bashir Ahmad
Bashir Ahmad's reward for a hard-fought decision win over Shannon Wiratchai earlier this year is an even tougher assignment against BJJ black belt and No Gi grappling world champion Bruno Pucci. Both fighters are 2-0 but the Brazilian's ground fighting credentials could give him the edge against Asian opposition.
Pucci's wins have both come on the highly competitive Brazilian scene and he is a member of the fight team at Evolve MMA where he will have been working every day on his striking under the boxing and Muay Thai world champions.
Ahmad is extremely well-rounded and has a blue belt in BJJ and professional Muay Thai experience. If Pucci's wrestling is strong enough to get the fight to the ground I expect him to dominate but, if the Pakistani can avoid getting put in adverse grappling positions, he has the tools to claim a second successive ONE FC win.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!