All eyes will be on Ben Askren as arguably the best welterweight in the world makes his promotional debut, but the 10-fight card at ONE FC: "Honor & Glory" this Friday (May 30, 2014) in Singapore has a few other intriguing match ups, with Jadamba Naruntulalag, Xian Ji, and Chi Lewis Parry also stepping inside the ONE FC cage for the first time.
As always, the entire card will be able to be purchased for $9.99 with the first two bouts streamed free of charge. Here's part one of my preview:
Casey Suire vs Stephen Langdown
This is a massive step up for Stephen Langdown, but ONE FC's bantamweight division is definitely the promotion's strongest and there aren't many easy fights at 135 pounds. Casey Suire is a seasoned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) practitioner with pro boxing experience and a 4-0 record.
Suire's first three wins were in Indonesia but he has faced some respectable opponents there and is coming off a quickfire submission victory over Raymond Tan at ONE FC's last Kuala Lumpur card. Langdown's professional debut was a straightforward stoppage of unheralded Malaysian Marc Marcellinus, which didn't tell us too much about the Singaporean's skill set, but this fight definitely will.
Nik Harris vs Brad Robinson
This is really a fight for the live audience because Nik Harris has a big fan following in Malaysia while Brad Robinson is a minor celebrity in Singapore. The Malaysian is more experience with a 5-2 pro record which includes a ONE FC win, but the American has already beaten him once, by unanimous decision at Ultimate Beatdown 10 in 2012.
In that fight Robinson, who is 2-0, used his superior ground game to grind out a decision, but Harris subsequently decided to take his training much more seriously. The Malaysian will be at a disadvantage on the ground and I expect the Singapore-based fighter to try and outwrestle him.
Raymond Tan vs Radeem Rahman
Radeem Rahman burst onto the scene at ONE FC's inaugural event in September 2011 and hasn't been seen since, with the Singaporean citing injuries and personal problems. Whatever the reason for his prolonged absence he is finally fit again and as Evolve MMA's standout Singaporean he will be looking to follow up his quickfire stoppage win against overmatched Indian Susovan Ghosh with another impressive performance when he takes on Raymond Tan.
Although both fighters have fought at flyweight, this matchup will be at 135 pounds and much will depend on what strategy Rahman employs to cope with his opponent's height and reach. Tan definitely has holes in his game but he is one of the tallest fighters in the division and the challenge for the Singaporean will be to find a way of closing the range and avoid getting picked apart on the outside.
Chi Lewis Parry vs Alain Ngalani
This is one of my favorite fights on the card because it pits 5-0 giant Chi Lewis Parry against musclebound Muay Thai expert Alain Ngalani. The Englishman stands 6'9" tall but he's taken relatively easy fights to date in his career and this promises to be a first real test against the most dangerous striker in the division.
Parry has been training with Alistair Overeem in Holland so he shouldn't be out of his depth, but Ngalani has a spectacular array of spinning strikes and can finish the fight in an instant. With a nine inch height difference this has something of a freakshow feel, but it has all the makings of a spectacular fight which could have serious repercussions for the heavyweight title picture.
Xian Ji vs Thanh Vu
I think Thanh Vu must have upset someone at ONE FC because he keeps getting thrown in with the best fighters in the division. After being dominated by Kevin Belingon, the Australian put in a spirited performance against Dae Hwan Kim and very nearly became the first man to ever defeat the Korean.
Things don't get any easy for Vu who brings a 3-3 record into his fight with Legend FC 135-pound champion and seasoned submission specailist Xian Ji who is listed as 11-2 but, like all Chinese fighters, will inevitably have wins missing from his record.
Ji's 11 wins have all come by way of submission while Vu is primarily a ground fighter too. This will be an interesting examination of the China Top Team prospects championship credentials, an impressive win would put him right in the mix but Vu is no pushover.
That's a wrap -- but stay tuned tomorrow for part two!
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