ONE FC moves into Chinese territory for the first time this Friday night with an event at the TNU Sports Arena in Taipei, which is headlined by a featherweight title eliminator between Filipino Eric Kelly and Australian Rob Lisita.
The event titled ONE FC: "War of Dragons" will make Taiwan the first stop on the promotion's aggressive expansion into the Chinese market which will see 10 events held on the mainland next year with further shows likely to be announced in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The bottom half of the card features four fights involving local mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters as well as an intriguing heavyweight rematch between undefeated Englishman Chi Lewis Parry and Camerounian kickboxer Alain Ngalani.
Here's the first half of my preview:
Nathan Ng vs Florian Garel
Florian Garel is a Frenchman who has been based in Taipei for over five years and has fought four times for local promotion Pro FC. He holds a fourth degree black belt in Zendokai Karate but three first round submission losses have contributed to a 2-3 overall record.
Much like Eddie Ng (no relation) Nathan Ng is ethnically speaking from Hong Kong, although he is based in San Francisco. Something of an unknown quantity he has a background in traditional Chinese martial arts but has also trained at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and competed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), amateur MMA, and Sanda.
This is an opportunity for both fighters to make a name for themselves and hopefully we will see them both going for it right from the opening bell. Garel has a clear advantage in terms of professional MMA experience, but I suspect Ng knows exactly what it takes to succeed inside the cage and he looks to have the tools to make a successful ONE FC debut.
Rayner Kinsiong vs Zhang Zheng Jie
Zhang Zheng Jie is another fighter who made his name with Pro FC, running up a 2-0 record in fights which were two years apart. All I know about the lightweight is that he is nicknamed "Frogman" because he used to be a Marine with the Taiwanese military and both of his wins are submissions.
You can see one of them here.
Both fighters are 2-0 but whereas Jie's fights took place in 2012 and 2014, Rayner Kinsiong competed twice in quick succession at the end of last year. A national Karate champion who represented Malaysia at the SEA Games he has obviously taken the time to learn the grappling game.
Coming off a May win, Jie should be full of confidence going into this bout and it will be interesting to see whether he is in a hurry to get the fight to the ground against the Karate specialist. Kinsiong is no walkover and having already tasted the limelight during his Karate career he will be hoping MMA can provide him with one last moment of glory.
Bala Shetty vs Jeff Huang
Bala Shetty has won numerous national kickboxing titles in India but appears to have spend his entire career competing in amateur bouts. He has an aggressive, low kick and punch orientated style which should translate well to MMA but there has to be a question mark over his well roundedness.
Jeff Huang, by contrast, has immersed himself in the sport and traveled to the U.S. and Brazil to train at some of the top gyms. Having spent so much time in South America, he has developed his BJJ game quickly and, while striking is not his strong point, he knows how to put together combinations.
Huang is an aggressive fighter with a big heart and if he chooses to stand and trade with Shetty then the Indian debutant has a chance but with a 3-1 pro record and so much quality training and sparring under his belt, any sort of a tactical approach should be sufficient to see him secure a fourth win.
Nicholas Lee vs Sung Ming Yen
Surprisingly, Sung Ming Yen has never fought in Taiwan but he is still a well known face there because he commentates on ONE FC fights for the local language TV broadcast. He has run up a 2-1 record competing for Martial Combat and then Legend FC, but hasn't competed in MMA for over two years.
Nicholas Lee also has a 2-1 record and is a teenage prospect from Singapore who has spent time training in Thailand. He is coming off a unanimous decision defeat in Malaysia against an opponent who was able to grind out a victory by taking him down and keeping him down.
With 15 years separating these two bantamweights this really is a battle between youth and experience and if Lee's last fight is anything to go by, expect an aggressive striking display while Yen, an amateur Muay Thai champion, has solid stand up but might prefer to get this one to the ground.
Chi Lewis Parry vs Alain Ngalani
The addition of this heavyweight bout to the card was an unexpected bonus and it should give us an intriguing insight into whether Chi Lewis Parry is as good as his 5-0-0-1 record suggests. Alain Ngalani is coming towards the end of his career but is a former Muay Thai and kickboxing world champion who has devastating striking.
Their first fight earlier this year ended prematurely when Parry inadvertently struck Ngalani with a knee to the groin and the African could not continue. Hopefully the second fight has a more satisfactory conclusion, although with so much size and power inside the cage, it's unlikely to last long.
The Englishman has been training with Alistair Overeem in Holland and has a huge advantage in terms of size and reach but Ngalani, whose record stands at 1-1-0-1, is an explosive striker who is always capable of winning by knockout and will be dangerous for as long as he can avoid being put on his back.
The first three fights of the night will be available to view online free of charge while the main card is being shown by various broadcasters including Star Sports and the entire event can be purchased for $9.99 USD. For more information visit: http://www.onefc.livesport.tv/.
Stay tuned for part two of our preview on Thursday.