The top half of this Friday night's ONE FC: "Rise of Heroes" card contains six huge fights concluding with Bibiano Fernandes as he attempts to continue his dominance of the bantamweight division with a title defense against Masakatsu Ueda which looks set to be his toughest test yet.
There is also a heavyweight match-up between two of the most dangerous strikers in the division in James McSweeney and Chris Lokteff, while for the Filipino fans who have reportedly bought tickets in record numbers, the focus will be firmly on Eduard Folayang and the returning Rey Docyogen.
Here is my preview of the final five fights on the card:
James McSweeney vs Chris Lokteff
James McSweeny is one of the most accomplished strikers in the division, but you would have to go a long way to find a heavyweight who hits harder than Chris Lokteff. Nine of the Australian's 12 wins are KOs or TKOs, as he's only been to a decision once and he rocked Tony Johnson Jr. repeatedly in their fight.
McSweeney (12-11) has only been the distance once in his career and comes from a Muay Thai background but has spent years training under Robert Drysdale and should have an advantage on the ground. Lokteff (12-1) showed some solid submission defense against Johnson Jr., but this fight looks set to be a striking battle pitching the diverse offense of the Englishman against the brutal punching power of the Australian.
Rob Lisita vs Yusuke Kawanago
These two first fought for the Legend FC 145-pound title with Yusuke Kawanago rocking Robert Lisita repeatedly with knees en route to a unanimous decision win. The Australian has shown a marked improvement since that 2012 bout, most noticeably in his striking, and will be out for revenge when both make their ONE FC debuts.
Kawanago (13-3-2) is confident in his striking and is very dangerous with his knees and left and right hooks but also has a solid submission game. Lisita (13-5) started out looking like a one-dimensional wrestler but now has some very sharp striking. In the first fight the Australian was desperate for takedowns, and would have scored more had they been in a cage rather than a ring, while the Japanese fighter dominated the striking. This time around I expect them to be much more well matched in every department.
Josh Alvarez vs Rey Docyogen
A chance at redemption for Rey Docyogen who has been denied ONE FC wins by a basic tactical error (against Shinichi Kojima) and a debatable judging decision (against Yasuhiro Urushitani), but Josh Alvarez is also looking to bounce back after being stopped by Koetsu Okazaki on his ONE FC debut.
Docyogen (10-2) came into ONE FC with a reputation as being the best flyweight in the Philippines and he has some top notch Wushu striking with very powerful kicks and plenty of lateral movement. Alvarez (12-6) was in all out attack mode against Okazaki but if he adopts a similarly aggressive approach against the Fiiipino he is likely to get knocked out. The key for the fighter from Guam is to get this to the ground.
Kotetsu Boku vs Eduard Folayang
Under other circumstances this fight could easily have ended up being for the belt. Eduard Folayang was initially promised a ONE FC title shot but was pulled out by URCC and replaced by Kotetsu Boku, who went on to become the inaugural champion.
Both Boku (21-9-2) and Folayang (13-4) are very light on their feet and constantly circle out although the Japanese fighter relies exclusively on punches, whereas the Filipino has a very diverse Wushu based offensive arsenal and has also been known to shoot for takedowns.
Folayang does have a habit of getting tagged in fights and he can't afford to do that against the heavy-handed Boku but if he can stay away from the Shooto veteran's sledgehammer of a right hand, he should have what it takes to come away with the decision win.
Bibiano Fernandes vs Masakatsu Ueda
This is the acid test for Bibiano Fernandes who is taking on the undisputed number one contender and an opponent with immense experience and a diverse skillset. Masakatsu Ueda has been in with some of the best bantamweights in the world and many believe he is the man to finally dethrone the dominant Brazilian.
Since he began fighting five rounders, Fernandes (15-3) has elected to pace himself and try to use his takedowns to set up decision wins. The Brazilian's grappling credentials are among the best in the business, but he has been dominating opponents without finishing them.
In addition, Ueda is very well rounded
ONE FC: "Rise of Heroes" is the organization's fourth card 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 (except in the Philippines where it will be on FOX Sports) and available to purchase as an online pay-per-view (PPV) for $9.99.