ONE FC: "War of Nations" is set for Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday night (March 14, 2014) and will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Nobutatsu Suzuki and Brock Larson with significant match-ups also taking place in the flyweight and lightweight divisions.
This is is preview of the top half of the card. To read part one of this preview click here.
Shinichi Kojima vs Andrew Leone
The winner of this fight will be in line for an immediate title shot so the stakes are high and it is a matchup which pits the youth of Andrew Leone (6-2) against the experience of Shinichi Kojima (13-5-5). Both are coming off successful promotional debuts, as the latter outpointed Geje Eustaquio while the former caught Rey Docyogen with a second round guillotine.
Leone has a strong wrestling background and holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). He's won a few grappling tournaments in Asia and will want to put the former Shooto champion on his back so I expect him to be waste no time in shooting for a takedown.
Kojima is patient and predatory, a tricky southpaw he will simply wait for his opponent to make a mistake and then capitalize ruthlessly just like he did against Docyogen. The owner of a huge left kick and a solid submission game I think the Japanese fighter has the edge in the striking department and the outcome of this fight will be dictated by whether or not Leone is able to outwrestle him.
Kamal Shalorus vs Ariel Sexton
In his mid thirties (even he doesn't know exactly how old he is!) it is possible that Kamal Shalorus (8-3-2) might start to slow down soon but he was able to dominate Eduard Folayang for three rounds in his ONE FC debut. Ariel Sexton (8-2) is a BJJ black belt whose strength is his submission game.
I think Shalorus is the more well rounded of the two and the UFC and WEC veteran has also faced a better level of competition. Being an Iranian wrestling champion, Sexton might struggle to take him down which could be an issue for the Costa Rican because striking is not his strong point.
Shalorus is a typical wrestler / boxer whose striking offence consists almost exclusively of punches but can use his wrestling ability to dictate where the fight takes place. He's won some "Fight of the Night" awards and Sexton has a wild striking style so I could see this being a brawl which the Iranian has the tools to win.
Yasuhiro Urushitani vs Adriano Moraes
Adriano Moraes (9-1) got his ONE FC career off to a disappointing start when he dropped a split decision to Yusup Saadulaev late last year but Asian fight fans haven't seen the best of the Brazilian. He's a creative and talented fighter in the Anderson Silva mold and can mix up sharp striking with explosive submission attempts.
While comparisons with the former UFC 185-pound champion are perhaps a little premature, there is no questioning Moraes' potential. By contrast, Yasuhiro Urushitani (21-6-6) is at the opposite end of his career and just like Kojima he is a southpaw with a very patient style.
Moraes has youth on his side and is the faster and more dynamic fighter but he will have to be careful not to take any unnecessary risks against Urushitani. If the Brazilian settles into an early rhythm and finds his striking range he could win by stoppage but if he is not at his best, I think the Japanese veteran has the know-how to win a decision.
Kevin Belingon vs Dae Hwan Kim
This might not be the main event but for me its the best fight on the card. When you throw two up-and-coming contenders who both have all action styles in the cage together, the results are likely to be fan friendly and I'm confident that will be the case here.
Dae Hwan Kim (9-0-1) was unbelievably aggressive when he made his ONE FC debut against Thanh Vu but left himself very open for counters. By contrast, Belingon (12-3) subjected the same opponent to a complete shut out and I think that gives some indication as to how this fight will go.
Belingon's Wushu striking is surgically precise and if Kim presses forwards throwing wild shots I think the Filipino will pick him apart. The wrestling and grappling aspects of this fight represent the great unknown and it will be interesting to see if either fighter shoots for a takedown and who has the edge on the ground but overall, I am leaning toward the Team Lakay man.
Brock Larson vs Nobutatsu Suzuki
This was something of an unexpected match-up but if you think about it, pitching Larson (37-7) and Suzuki (10-1-2) together for a title match makes perfect sense. The latter has one of the best records in the division and is coming off a dominant win over Melvin Manhoef while the former's record of winning fights by KO and TKO is formidable and he dispatched Phil Baroni in emphatic style.
In many ways Suzuki represents what is best about ONE FC. No one had heard of him until Victor Cui's promotion gave him a platform but he is a highly entertaining fighter whose Karate style harks back to the old days of MMA when people tuned in simply to see which martial art was more effective.
With a black belt in BJJ, Larson is far more orthodox and while his name has never rung loud in wrestling circles he knows exactly how to get a fight to the floor. That could be bad news for Suzuki because if he has a weakness it is his takedown defense and ground game.
Larson has the opportunity to become the first-ever American to win a ONE FC title and it would be a well deserved accolade for an athlete who has been fighting for over a decade. Suzuki definitely lacks that level of experience but it would be huge for the sport of Karate and Asian MMA in general if he could prevail against such a seasoned opponent.
The gulf in experience makes Suzuki a clear underdog but if he can keep the fight standing and start to score with those long knees he could make life uncomfortable for Larson.