If you missed part one of our preview click here.
After all the speculation surrounding Ben Askren and his promotional future, it is finally time for the undefeated welterweight to get back to the serious business of fighting. He will be competing in the cage for the first time since leaving Bellator when he takes on Bakhtiyar Abbasov in the main event of ONE FC 16: "Honor & Glory" on May 30 in Singapore.
Below is part two of our preview:
Bruno Pucci vs Major Overall
Major Overall was a replacement for Martin Nguyen who suffered an infection which prevented him from training, but he pulled out nearly a month ago so the Japanese American has had plenty of time to prepare for this fight with No Gi grappling world champion Bruno Pucci.
This will be an interesting test for Pucci because Overall has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and a decent level of striking. His only defeat came in a short notice fight at 155 pounds and he's been dominant in the lower divisions, but the Brazilian is on a a completely different level to any of his previous opponents.
Pucci is 3-0 but has a black belt in BJJ and has submitted all three of his previous opponents with rear naked chokes. Overall is no slouch on the ground but he probably needs to keep this fight standing to have any chance of beating the Brazilian.
Caros Fodor vs Willy Ni
Both fighters are coming off devastating defeats and both are in desperate need of a win. Caros Fodor dropped a unanimous decision to Vuyisile Colossa in his most recent outing, while Willy Ni was swiftly submitted by Vincent Latoel in his first fight in four years.
Fodor has lost three out of his last four but the defeats have come at the hands of high-caliber opposition under the banners of Strikeforce, UFC and ONE FC. Ni has lost seven out of his last eight, but the Dutchman managed to go 14-1 at the start of his career, so he clearly has some potential.
Ni is only 27 and should be approaching his physical peak but we didn't get much chance to assess his ability in the fight with Latoel, which lasted less than two minutes. Fodor is a seasoned fighter who knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level and must be a strong favorite to win this match up.
Honorio Banario vs Jadamba Narantungalag
For me this is the best fight on the card, because it pits together two top Asian fighters who have enjoyed success competing for completely different promotions. These are exactly the sort of match ups I hoped would materialize when Legend FC folded and stylistically, this has all the ingredients to be a classic.
Jadamba comes from a Karate and Judo background, but is also a K-1 veteran who has been in with the likes of Albert Kraus, Masato and Bukaw Por Pramuk. His eight-fight win streak which took in victories over the likes of Adrian Pang, Yui Chul Nam, Akihiro Gono, and Kazunori Yokota was snapped when he suffered a devastating injury last April.
Jadamba snapped his ankle in the third round of a Legend FC 155-pound title defense and hasn't fought since, which makes his decision to drop down to featherweight a strange one. At the age of 38, and after a year out with injury, much is going to depend on how he copes competing in a completely new division.
Banario is 14 years younger and has age on his side, but desperately needs a win. His 8-3 record is identical to Jadamba's but the Filipino is coming off back-to-back defeats in title matches with Koji Oishi and there would be no better way to bounce back than by defeating the former Legend FC champion.
Jadamba has a very solid ground game, dangerous striking and can use his Judo to get opponents down. It's going to be very difficult for Banario to stop him, as he will need to use his footwork to get in and land those trademark Wushu style kicks without leaving an opening for his opponent to connect with a big right hand.
Eddie Ng vs Vincent Latoel
Eddie Ng was initially supposed to face Kamal Shalorus and while this match up isn't quite as illustrious as that would have been, it sill promises to be a fun fight because both he and Vincent Latoel have a proven track record of finishing fights.
Latoel trains with Golden Glory and is a tall lightweight who knows how to use his Muay Thai inside the cage and also has a strong submission game. Ng is also very well rounded and while initially known for his BJJ, his wrestling and striking have looked very good in recent fights.
Ng's ONE FC fights tend to be quick which is testament to how explosive he is both standing up and on the ground. Latoel was repeatedly taken down by Eduard Folayang in his most recent outing and the Evolve MMA standout might choose to implement a wrestling-based gameplan.
From the rare glimpses we have been given of Ng's standup he looks to have serious speed and power, he rocked Peter Davis with a body kick and dropped Jian Kai Chee with a left hook and hopefully we will get to see how his striking stacks up against a seasoned opponent.
Latoel is a veteran of 30 fights who is hugely experienced and Ng has struggled with injuries recently so there are a lot of variables. The Dutch fighter will be disappointed with his showing against Folayang and I expect him to come out aggressive which could make the early exchanges crucial in determining the outcome of the fight.
Ben Askren vs Bakhtiyar Abbasov
Such was Ben Askren's dominance in Bellator, where he established himself as arguably the best welterweight in the world, that the question for many going into this fight is not whether he will win in his ONE FC debut, but what sort of performance he will put in?
Bakhtiyar Abbasov would presumably disagree strongly with that assessment and he is a heavy hitter who is dangerous with spinning strikes and has elite-level Sambo skills, but stylistically this looks like an insurmountable task for the Azerbaijani.
Askren is a two time NCAA Division-1 champion, his ground game is excellent and his striking is better than people give him credit for. But it is his level of wrestling, which is so high that he can more or less do what he wants with opponents, that makes him almost unbeatable.
If you wanted to handpick an opponent to beat Askren you would look for someone with a similar caliber of wrestling who was capable of stuffing his takedowns, but finding an active MMA fighter who meets this criteria is close to impossible.
Abbasov's base in Combat Sambo means he knows how to stuff a takedown, but it's still unlikely to be enough to prevent him from ending up on his back. Askren will want to put in a big performance fighting in front of the ONE FC fans for the first time and it's possible that pressure could cause him to make mistakes. But if he sticks to the gameplan, then he should secure his 13th straight win.