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 final five fights on the card (part one of my preview here):
125 lbs.: Ann Osman vs Irina Mazepa
Ann Osman (3-1) comes from a Muay Thai background but she will not want to waste any time getting this one to the ground. Irina Mazepa is a multiple time Wushu world champion with very fast kicks who will be at a clear advantage in striking terms.
The Russian is making her debut so how strong Mazepa is on the ground remains to be seen. Osman is strong for a flyweight and if she can get top position she should be able to capitalize with submission attempts or ground-and-pound. Although Mazepa does come into this fight as something of an unknown quantity.
145 lbs.: Hiroshige Tanaka vs Eric Kelly
Eric Kelly (11-1) almost always impresses when he fights. The problem is that he fights so infrequently and whether due to deciding that he wants to retire, deciding that he wants to fight for a different promotion or deciding that he doesn't like the matchup he's offered, the Filipino has turned down a lot of fights.
The Filipino has a very dangerous ground game and can slap on rear naked chokes from unorthodox angles, he only needs the slightest opening. In striking terms he's a bit flat footed but highly competent. Tanaka (10-2) is primarily a wrestler but he does have powerful punches and this should be a fun fight.
155 lbs.: Peter Davis vs Adrian Pang
This represents a massive step up for Peter Davis (10-3), who is coming off two credible wins against former champions from the URCC and SFL. Adrian Pang (21-8-2) is a former Legend FC champion who's been in with some of the best lightweights in both Australia and Asia and held his own against the likes of Jadambaa Naruntungalag, Yui Chul Nam, Jai Bradney, Bernardo Magalhaes, and Muhsin Corbbrey.
Davis doesn't have many names like that on his resume but the Malaysian does have an unusual Kung Fu-based striking style and is increasingly confident on the ground. Nine of his 10 wins have been by stoppage and Pang's go-to gameplan is to walk forward and try to suck opponents into striking exchanges.
Davis does have power and normally looks to counter strike so in certain respects Pang's style could be tailor made made for him. However, the Malaysian has been caught with punches by some comparatively low caliber fighters in recent fights and will have to be much more cautious against the seasoned Australian.
145 lbs.: Ev Ting vs Honorio Banario
Honorio Banario (8-5) hasn't fought for almost a year and it's been nearly three years since he last won a fight. However, he did give a good account of himself when going the distance with Narantungalag Jadambaa in 2014 in a performance which suggested he might still have what it takes to compete with the division's finest.
Ev Ting (9-3) came up short against Marat Gafurov but will want to bounce back strongly against the former champion. He's very dangerous with head kicks and given that there are question marks over Banario's chin, he might be confident of scoring a knockout.
Banario has good Wushu-based striking although he lacks that one-punch knockout power. He likes to counter strike and Ting tends to be very patient which could make for a slow start to this fight but once the pace picks up, things should get interesting. It looks set to be a close fight which could well go the distance.
185 lbs.: Igor Svirid vs Vitaly Bigdash
Igor Svirid (11-1) has reportedly had over 40 pro MMA fights and came into his championship bout against Leandro Ataides with a reputation for being a wrestler. He dropped the Brazilian with a jab but previous footage suggests he is usually better at taking opponents down than knocking them down.
Vitaly Bigdash (7-0) comes from a Karate background and has one spectacular spinning wheel kick knockout on his record. However, like Svirid he looks more comfortable on the ground and will constantly look to close the gap on opponents so he can drag them down.
Bigdash is good in the clinch and can rough opponents up with knees and elbows. He's never been to a decision, although he does have three third-round submissions on his resume. I give the Russian a slight edge in striking terms, but suspect this will come down to who can use their wrestling to dictate where the action takes place.
ONE: "Tigers of Asia" is available on pay-per-view (PPV) for $9.99. For more information visit: www.ONEPPV.com.