ONE FC: "Warrior's Way" is set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Dec. 5 and will be headlined by a bantamweight title bout between champion Bibiano Fernandes and challenger Dae Hwan Kim with UFC veteran Brandon Vera set to face off against Igor Subora in the co main event.
Manila always plays host to strong ONE FC cards and this Friday will be no exception with top Filipino fighters like Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon and Honorio Banario in action as well as top light heavyweight contenders Roger Gracie and James McSweeney.
Here is my preview of the first half of the card:
Jujeath Nagaowa vs Tharoth Sam
ONE FC is gradually expanding its women's 105-pound division and these two fighters have the opportunity to take a step towards title contention by securing a second successive win for the promotion. Nagaowa (1-0) is a seasoned boxer who will have the crowd behind her whereas Sam (2-0) comes from a Kun Khmer background.
Interestingly, Sam's wins have both come courtesy of a submission and it is possible she is the more well rounded of the two fighters, although six month's have elapsed since Nagaowa made her MMA debut so she's had plenty of time to train and there is no shortage of places to improve on your grappling game in the Philippines.
It's difficult to come up with examples of boxers who have made a really successful transition to MMA and Nagaowa will be hoping to buck the trend. Her Cambodian opponent represents a genuine challenge and this fight will tell us a lot about the title prospects of both these 105 pounders.
Ana Julaton Walaa Abas Mohamed Kamaly
There is huge fight surrounding former boxing world champion Ana Julaton (1-1) as she begins her MMA career but a bout with Malaysia's Ann Osman in Dubai proved to be too much too soon as the popular Fil-Am fighter dropped a split decision.
Kamaly (2-1) will be her second Egyptian opponent and the first posed Julaton a few problems. Given that she is relatively new to the MMA game and trains seriously I would expect to a significant improvement in the former boxer from fight to fight and she should be looking for an emphatic win against a fighter who is solid but far from spectacular.
The experience of going three full rounds with Osman should have served Julaton well but while Egyptian Top Team hasn't done brilliantly under the ONE FC banner, their fighters are always tough and determined and this definitely won't be a walkover for the Fil-Am prospect.
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke vs Rene Catalan
For fans of striking sports this is a dream match up because it pits former Lumpinee champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (3-0) against multiple time Wushu world champion Rene Catalan (0-1-0-1) although I suspect it won't turn out to be an all out stand-up war.
Catalan has been training in MMA for several years and has very good takedowns and I am sure he will have a healthy respect for his opponent's stand-up game as even reaching the pinnacle of the Wushu world is no substitute for having 200+ Muay Thai fights.
I have a feeling Catalan will look for an immediate takedown and and if Dejdamrong tries to drag the fight into the clinch he will try to put him on his back with trips or throws. I'm told that the Thai's ground game is evolving rapidly and I suspect it will be tested again here.
Sylvain Potard vs Jake Butler
This is a rematch and it's also something of a grudge match because Sylvain Potard (7-4) will want to prove he is a genuine light heavyweight contender after not having fought for ONE FC in over a year, since that shocking second round KO win over Jake Butler (4-1).
Butler's skillset is well documented, he's a former NCAA Division-1 wrestler but Potard was able to tag him repeatedly with straight left hands in the striking exchanges during that first match and the French southpaw knows he has the power to hurt the Princeton graduate.
Despite doing a good job of using his wrestling to control the fight in the early exchanges Butler surprisingly opted to stand with Potard and, despite landing a few solid leg kicks, he paid a heavy price for allowing it to turn into a striking match and is unlikely to make the same mistake second time around.
Honorio Banario vs Herbert Burns
This is a huge fight for both men because Honorio Banrio (8-4) will not want to countenance the possibility of a fourth straight ONE FC loss while a win for Herbert Burns (4-0) could be enough to set up a shot at reigning 145-pound champion Jadamba Naruntungalag in the new year.
Banario is a big featherweight who has a base in Wushu and pushed Jadamba all the way before dropping a unanimous decision in his last fight. He's likely to be bigger and stronger than Burns who is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and has outpointed two highly experienced opponents already this year.
I expect Banario to have a slight advantage in striking terms but he needs to keep the fight standing and avoid being taken down by Burns. The Brazilian is one of the top prospects on the ONE FC roster at present but the size and skillset of the former 145-pound champion could well pose him some problems.
Fans around Asia can catch all the action live on FOX Sports 1 while for fans from around the world the event will be available for purchase at just $9.99 from http://www.onefc.com/livestream.