ONE Championship's first card of 2015 is set for Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur this Friday night (March 13, 2015) and will be headlined by a flyweight world title bout between Brazilian champion Adriano Moraes and Japanese challenger Asuka Mikami, as well as seeing the return of local favorites Peter Davis, Ev Ting and Ann Osman.
The card has been reduced to eight bouts due to injury to a couple of undercard fighters but all the main card match-ups remain intact with Moraes looking to win his fourth consecutive ONE Championship fight and beat a Japanese opponent for the third time.
The bouts featuring Osman and Davis will both be broadcast live on national TV in Malaysia which means they might take place after the flyweight title bout, but the only way to watch the entire card live is to purchase it for $9.99 from the ONE Championship website.
Here's my preview of the first four fights:
Agilan Thani vs Reant Febriza Rainir
I tipped Agilan Thani (1-0) as a fighter to watch out for in 2015 and the MIMMA 170-pound champion will be looking to build on a highly successful amateur career when he makes his ONE Championship debut on Friday night. He is a powerful grappler who knows how to cut weight and won five fights out of five at an amateur level last year.
Reant Febriza Rainir is an Indonesian debutant who trains under ONE Championship veteran Zuli Silawanto (who holds the dubious distinction of being the only fighter to ever lose four in a row for the promotion) and has a background in Muay Thai. On paper, this looks like a fight which Thani should win and it will be interesting to see whether he has what it takes to be Malaysia's next MMA star.
Chan Rothana vs Ramon Gonzalez
ONE Championship's first event in Phnom Penh was well received and the organization has a strong partnership with the NAGA casino there, so it will almost certainly be back in 2015. That said, Chan Rothana will be looking to become the first fighter from the country to beat an international opponent on a ONE Championship card.
Rothana (2-1) is listed as having three fights but it's quite possible he's had closer to 30 while Gonzales has extensive amateur experience and is a decorated Karate black belt. The Cambodian is a Kun Khmer veteran so stylistically speaking this could turn into an intriguing striking match, although it's worth noting that the Filipino made his pro debut in 2009, so he has much more MMA experience.
Kirstie Gannaway vs April Osenio
April Osenio will be making her professional debut and was a replacement for the injured Jujeath Nagaowa, but the 20-year-old Filipina is on the national Wushu team, has won numerous grappling competitions in Baguio, and been training MMA with Team Lakay for several years.
That makes Osenio a very exciting prospect and she will be a tough test for touted Singaporean prospect Kirstie Gannaway (1-0), who trains out of the renowned Evolve MMA camp. She showcased her solid submission skills in her ONE Championship debut last year and that might just give her the edge in this match up.
Gianni Subba vs Thanh Vu
Gianni Subba (4-1) is only 22 years old but has already fought five times for ONE Championship and established himself as a top contender at 125 pounds. He's tall for a flyweight and his only defeat was a decision loss at the hands of Eugene Toquero, a Muay Thai fighter who took the Malaysian by surprise with a wrestling-based strategy.
Thanh Vu (5-3) is looking to snap a two-fight losing skid but gave as good as he got against Dae Hwan Kim and is dropping down a division for this fight. It's been nine months since Subba's last fight and he's been training with the Leone brothers in Bali so you would expect to see a significant improvement. That said, he's been handed a tricky assignment against the Australian.
ONE Championship: "Age of Champions" is set for Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, March 13th. Fans from around the world can witness the action online via live stream and the event will be available for purchase at just $9.99 from http://www.onefc.com/livestream.