ONE FC: "Battle of Lions" is set for the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday (Nov. 7, 2014) and the card is stacked with welterweight and middleweight fights as Asia's biggest MMA promotion looks to expand two divisions which are much deeper than they were a year ago.
The main event sees Leandro Ataides get his long-awaited title shot against promotional newcomer Igor Svirid and the two 185-pounders to have been beaten by the Brazilian will also face off when Tatsuya Mizuno takes on Brayan Rafiq, a replacement for Aung la Nsang who had visa issues.
Meanwhile the next welterweight to get a shot at undefeated champion Ben Askren could well be on this card because Bellator veteran Luis Santos is taking on Bakhtiyar Abbasov while Dwayne Hinds will be making his long-awaited ONE FC debut against fellow newcomer Christophe Vandijck.
Plus there is the long-awaited return of former 155-pound favorite Zorobabel Moreira making this one of the most diverse cards ONE FC has ever put on. Fans in Asia can catch all the ONE FC: ‘Battle of Lions’ action live on FOX Sports 3, while the event will be available online for US$9.99 from http://www.onefc.com/livestream.
Here is my preview of the first five fights:
Jeff Huang vs Zuli Silawanto
Jeff Huang (4-1) is a good prospect who has trained extensively in Brazil and the US and has a strong ground game and an entertaining style. His opponent is Zuli Silawanto (6-8) an out and out brawler who is in danger of becoming the first fighter to ever lose four straight ONE FC fights.
Whether Huang can ever evolve to the point where he is ready to challenge the likes of Askren and Santos remains to be seen but he is much more well rounded than Silawanto and has a superior ground game. I would expect the Taiwanese fighter to prevail although the Indonesian's wild striking style makes him capable of causing an upset if the bout degenerates into a brawl.
Kirstie Gannaway vs Adek Omar
It's difficult to make predictions about two fighters who I have never seen fight or train. Kirstie Gannaway trains full time at Evolve MMA and I don't know which team Adek Omar fights out of in Malaysia but there is no way she is getting that calibre of training so my money is on the Singaporean.
Amir Khan vs Waqar Umar
Amir Khan (1-1) began training Muay Thai at a young age and was competing at a good level in Thailand when he was just 14 years old. He subsequently moved to the US for a few years where he earned a blue belt under Relson Gracie and had a successful amateur career.
Waqar Umar (3-1) comes from a Wushu background but has developed a reputation for his grappling skills, submitting his first three opponents before coming up short in a lightweight match with Peter Davis that he accepted at very short notice.
Umar did well enough against Davis to suggest he can cause Khan some problems but the young Singaporean's technical superiority should be enough to secure a stoppage win.
Martin Ngyen vs Rocky Batol Batol
Rocky Batol Batol (5-0) comes from a boxing background and is a southpaw with a nasty left kick who is also solid on the ground. Martin Nguyen (3-0) is very well rounded and it's difficult to identify a single strength but he has probably been fighting a higher level of opposition in Australia.
While Batol Batol will have gained valuable experience from his five fights in the Philippines he has never beaten an opponent of note whereas Nguyen has taken on tough fighters at both an amateur and professional level and is the reigning Brace 145 lbs champion.
This should be a competitive fight because Batol Batol has no obvious holes in his game and has the tools to hurt Nguyen in the striking exchanges but the Australian has evolved further as a mixed martial artist and is dangerous everywhere.
Major Overall vs Cary Bullos
Cary Bullos (7-1) holds a regional version of the URCC 139-pound belt and has waited a long time to make his ONE FC debut but he's been handed a very tough assignment against the under rated Major Overall (5-1), who has the talent to make big waves in the 145-pound division.
Overall holds a purple belt in BJJ and is not afraid to attempt the spectacular either in striking exchanges or on the ground. He's coming off a career defining KO win and his confidence should be high while Bullos will be competing for the first time in nearly two years.
Bullos has beaten some well respected opponents in the Philippines and has a strong ground game and, as you would expect from a Cebuano, good boxing but he is taking a serious step up against Overall and after such a long absence from competitive action it could well turn out to be a step too far.