ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) returns to Manila's SM Mall of Asia Arena on Friday (May 2, 2014) with a card headlined by the bantamweight title bout between Bibiano Fernandes and Masakatsu Ueda and featuring significant fights in seven different divisions.
The card is the organization's fourth in Manila and the third in this 20,000 capacity venue and the first three fights will be available to view online free of charge with the remainder shown live on Star Sports across Asia and available to purchase as an online pay-per-view (PPV) for $9.99.
Here is my preview of the first half of the card.
Jeet Toshi vs Jujeath Nagaowa
Jeet Toshi (2-1) has a strong kickboxing background but is likely to find herself completely outmatched in the striking department when she takes on seasoned boxer Jujeath Nagaowa. The Indian starred on an SFL reality show and has registered a submission win since her ONE FC debut and her best chance of success here might be to get the fight to the ground.
Although Nagaowa is making her debut she has been training seriously for several months and Toshi's wild striking style should leave her with plenty of openings to use her hands. Eight of the Filipinos 12 boxing win are by KO or TKO and I could see her finishing this fight quickly and violently.
Mahmoud Salama vs Aung La Nsang
Someone who has been tried and tested on the American circuit like Aung La Nsang is going to have a very shrewd understanding of what it takes to succeed inside the cage, whereas I suspect anyone with a couple of kickboxing lessons could probably win an MMA fight in Egypt.
That's not to say Egyptian fighters are bad, some of them have registered impressive performances on the international scene, but I think the Burmese born La Nsang will have too much for Salama, who is dropping down from 205 pounds, so should at least be the larger of the two men. I'd be surprised if this lasted longer than a minute and even more surprised if La Nsang lost.
Gianni Subba vs Eugene Toquero
Surprisingly tucked away on the undercard is a very promising flyweight scrap in which unbeaten Malaysian Gianni Subba (3-0) makes a small but significant step up against striking specialist Toquero. The Filipino is a Muay Thai veteran who is very well rounded and has solid submissions and wrestling.
Subba's entire MMA career has been spent inside the ONE FC cage and he has finished his fights fast, I wouldn't go as far as to say he hasn't been tested but it will be interesting to see how he copes with adversity. The Malaysian has shown he has plenty of power and with both fighters being well rounded this should be a high quality, evenly matched fight.
Aya Saeid Saber vs Ana Julaton
Ana Julaton looks to be the complete package. A former boxing world champion she is well spoken, easy on the eye and comparisons to Holly Holm are inevitable. The Filipino American is a superstar in the making and will want to put in an emphatic performance when she makes her debut against potentially overmatched Egyptian Aya Saeid Saber (2-3).
Julaton's 13-4-1 boxing record includes eight world title fights and she also has black belts in Bok Fu and Taekwondo. Expect her to be fast tracked towards a ONE FC title shot and I think she has the tools to blow Saber away in under a round.
Leandro Ataides vs Tatsuya Mizuno
The first of six "mega fights" on the card, this match-up arguably pits ONE FC's two best middleweights together and will tell us a huge amount about the title prospects of either man. Leandro Ataides (6-0) is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt but he showcased some heavy hands in his most recent outing, an impressive first round KO win.
Tatsuya Mizuno (13-9) is a Judo black belt who, in MMA terms, is highly experienced and has been in with a who's-who of light heavyweights and heavyweights. He's coming off a decision win in his middleweight debut and is tenacious and tough and will undoubtedly be the best opponent Ataides has ever faced.
I have absolutely no idea who is going to win this one but, even though a belt isn't on the line, the winner will be undisputed top dog in ONE FC's 185-pound division.
Stay tuned later in the week for part two of our ONE FC: "Rise of Heroes" preview.