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ONE: 'Tigers of Asia' preview (Pt. 1)

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ONE Championship returns to Kuala Lumpur this Friday night (Oct. 9, 2015) with a mixed martial arts (MMA) card that has been bolstered by the cancellation of the Beijing event. The show will be headlined by a rearranged middleweight title match between champion Igor Svirid and challenger Vitaly Bigdash, while a bantamweight match up between Dae Hwan Kim and Tengli Ge has also been added.

The majority of the card consists of Malaysian fighters with the likes of Ev Ting, Peter Davis and Gianni Subba all in action while Filipino featherweights Eric Kelly and Honorio Banario both make their return to the cage as well as Japan's Asuka Mikami and Hiroshige Tanaka.

Here is my preview of the first six fights on the card:

145 lbs.: Florian Garel vs Keanu Subba

Keanu Subba (1-1) is the younger brother of Gianni and is looks to be just as good a prospect. He is 21 but made his pro debut at the age of 16 and is a Malaysian Invasion champion and a veteran of seven amateur fights. He has fast footwork and is good at getting in and out and doing damage.

Florian Garel (2-4) comes from a Karate background and is reasonably well rounded but I expect Subba's speed to pose him problems which he will probably have no answer for. The Malaysian has a lot of first-round finishes on his amateur record and looks set to register another one here.

170 lbs.: Agilan Thani vs Hesham Hiba

Hesham Hiba (2-2) showed against Mohammad Sotounzadeh last time out that he always has a puncher's chance. He absorbed the Iranian's spinning strikes and then picked up the pace to finish him with ground-and-pound in the second round.

The Egyptian faces a very different challenger on Friday because Agilan Thani (2-0) is more of a grappler. The MIMMA welterweight champion will be looking to get the fight to the ground as quickly as possible and if he succeeds it could be a short night for Hiba.

135 lbs.: Melvin Yeoh vs Saiful Merican

Melvin Yeoh (7-2) missed out to AJ Mansour in the final of ONE Championship's Malaysia Featherweight Grand Prix a couple of years ago, but he fought with a serious knee injury and will want to give a better account of himself when he returns to the cage after an absence of nearly two years.

While Yeoh is dropping down a division, Saiful Merican (3-2) is moving up from flyweight. The Muay Thai veteran has a safety first MMA strategy and all his wins have been decisions. He likes to stall fights and spend enough time in top position to catch the judge's eye, the challenge for the former featherweight will be to set his own pace in what looks to be an evenly-matched encounter.

125 lbs.: Gianni Subba vs Almiro Barros

Both men were booked to fight different opponents but two separate injuries saw them matched with one another instead. Gianni Subba (5-1) has spent his entire career fighting for ONE and has developed into one of the top fighters in the division.

However, the Malaysian faces a different type of test against Almiro Barros (1-0) who is a decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt. Subba looks very well rounded with good striking but the Brazilian will have a clear advantage on the ground and may look to grind out a decision.

135 lbs.: Dae Hwan Kim vs Tengli Ge

Dae Hwan Kim (10-1-1) is coming off a loss to Bibiano Fernandes and will want to prove he is still one of the top fighters in the 135-pound division. He comes from a Muay Thai background but has five submission wins on his record and tends to start fast and be very aggressive.

It's difficult to know what to expect from Tengli Ge (3-2) due to the lack of available footage. Fighting out of the X'ian Sports University you would expect him to have high level Sanda, although all three of his wins are by first-round submission. You can never underestimate Chinese fighters but Kim will be a strong favourite here.

125 lbs.: Asuka Mikami vs Eugene Toquero

Both of these fighters bring plenty to the table in terms of charisma and Asuka Mikami (11-3-2) gave a good showing of himself against Adriano Moraes last time out. Eugene Toquero (7-1) is best known for the surprise decision win over Gianni Subba when he decided to wrestle his way to a decision victory.

Mikami likes to use his hands and Toquero comes from a Muay Thai background so there could be some wild striking exchanges, but both men are smart enough and experienced enough to implement a specific game plan. It will be interesting to see if they decide to test their stand up or try a more tactical approach.

ONE: "Tigers of Asia" is available on pay-per-view (PPV) for $9.99 USD. For more information visit: www.ONEPPV.com.

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