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ONE FC 21: 'Roar of Tigers' preview (Pt. 1)

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ONE FC: "Roar of Tigers" is set for Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this Friday (Oct. 17, 2014) and will feature nine fights with top featherweight contenders Marat Gafurov and Rob Lisita colliding in the main event and Malaysian lightweight Peter Davis going up against Vaughn Donayre in the co headlining spot.

While the main item of interest for most fans will be the promotional debut of Gafurov, an undefeated former M-1 145-pound champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt, there are other fights on the card which could have significance for the title picture in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions.

Here's my preview of the first five fights:

Barbod vs Hisham Hiba:

Barbod (1-0) once won a silver medal at the Taekwondo World Championships but the Iranian demonstrated in his debut that he is also comfortable on the ground. No Egyptian has ever won a fight for ONE FC and Hiba (1-2) is unlikely to be able to break that streak.

The Egyptian is tough and won't run away but Barbod's spinning strikes and Taekdowndo style attacks should be far too much for him and I would expect the Iranian welterweight, who is based in Malaysia, to finish this fight in spectacular style early in the opening round.

Anatpong Bunrad vs Marc Marcellinus:

The second fight on the card is also likely to produce a quick stoppage as Anatpong Bunrad (3-1) is a BJJ purple belt with extensive striking experience, although despite being Thai his background is in Karate and kickboxing rather than Muay Thai.

Marc Marcellinus (0-1) has dabbled in various martial arts but is not on Bunrad's level and I think the Thai bantamweight wins this fight any way he wants, although the most low risk strategy would be to get the action to the ground where his superior BJJ experience should make for a swift submission.

Raymond Tan vs Stephen Langdown:

Raymond Tan (2-2) is coming off back-to-back defeats but looked hugely impressive in the opening round against Radeem Rahman when he picked the Singaporean apart with his striking and was absolutely dominant for five minutes before being taken down and pounded out in the second stanza.

Stephen Langdown (1-1) is also coming off a loss and will need to find a way to cope with the range and reach of an opponent who stands nearly six feet tall. If he can put Tan on his back like Rahman did, he has a chance to win the fight but the Malaysian has a very good ground game and is dangerous with guillotines so it could be a tough night for the Singaporean.

Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke vs Saiful Merican:

Saiful Merican (3-1) has a background in Muay Thai but don't expect him to try and stand with Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (2-0), his gameplan will almost certainly be to take the Thai down and keep him down doing just enough damage to delay the stand up.

Dejdamrong is a former Lumpinee champion meaning that there isn't a fighter in the division who can match him in the striking department and Saiful will be well aware of his opponents credentials. However, the Malaysian is a much more experienced mixed martial artist who will be fighting for ONE FC for the fourth time and his tactics have evolved during the course of his career.

Dejdamrong is coming off a submission win and he trains with the team of BJJ black belts at Evolve MMA but Saiful has a huge head start on him in terms of learning wrestling and the ground game. If the Thai can keep it standing he can win by knockout but the Malaysian will do everything he can to avoid the striking exchanges and grind out a fourth consecutive decision win.

Bashir Ahmad vs Tanaphong Khunhankaew:

Tanaphong Khunhankaew (5-3) is the third Thai fighter competing on this card and he has been in with some top featherweights during the course of his MMA career. His opponent Bashir Ahmad (2-1) doesn't have as many fights but in terms of learning the non striking aspects of the sport, he has much more experience.

Ahmad holds a blue belt in BJJ and has a handful of Muay Thai fights to his name but his striking is not of the calibre of Khunhankaew's who is a veteran of over 100 Muay Thai matches. Although the Pakistani almost certainly has the superior ground game, his opponent is no novice in the grappling department and showed in a decision loss to Kelly last year that he can be very dangerous with both strikes and submissions off his back.

These two have trained extensively together at Team Quest in Thailand and should know each other's game well so it will be interesting to see what effect this has on the fight. Ahmad and Khunhankaew have both shown in previous fights that they are durable and well rounded and this match up looks too close to call.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two.

Fans around Asia can catch all the action live on FOX 2 (check your local listings). Also, fans from around the world can witness the action online via live streaming at www.onefc.com/livestream. The event will be available for purchase at just $9.99.

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