ONE: "Odyssey of Champions" is set for Istora Senayan in Jakarta on Sunday night (Sept. 27, 2015) and the cancellation of the Beijing show has seen this card significantly strengthened with the addition of a couple of extra fights. The main event is one of the best title fights the promotion has ever put together pitting reigning champion Narantungalag Jadambaa against undefeated challenger Marat Gafurov.
The good news for fight fans in Jakarta is that they will now be getting a chance to see UFC and Bellator veteran Roger Huerta in action. He takes on former title challenger Koji Ando in a bout which was originally set for Beijing while Leandro Ataides will also be looking to bounce back from title disappointment when he faces Aleksei Butorin.
In total there are 11 fights on the card and the first four bouts will be aired for free on Facebook.
Here's the first half of my preview:
145 lbs.: Martin Nguyen vs Bashir Ahmad (first Facebook fight)
It's surprising to see such a good fight kicking off the card but these two solid featherweights get the night underway. Martin Nguyen (4-0) is 26 years old and already holds a win over one of Australia's best 145 pounders. He's an explosive fighter who likes to let his hands go and isn't afraid to stay in the pocket and trade punches.
Bashir Ahmad (3-2) has a huge fan following in Pakistan and put on an impressive performance against Amir Khan last time out, despite taking the fight on roughly 48 hours notice. He's well rounded and clipped Khan continuously with right hands. This one could go either way.
135 lbs.: Sotir Kichukov vs Yusup Saadulaev
Another fight that you might expect to see on the pay-per-view (PPV) portion of the card pits Russian bantamweight Yusup Saadulaev (13-4-1) against Bulgaria's Sotir Kichukov (13-3). The latter fighter has been training in Vietnam, at the Saigon Sports Club, and stepped in to replace the injured Andrew Leone.
Saadulaev has a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt but has been somewhat inconsistent of late. Big wins against the likes of Hideo Tokoro and Adriano Moraes have been offset by some surprising defeats, but I expect him to have too much for Kichukov, who has never won a fight outside of Bulgaria.
265 lbs.: Jake Butler vs Cristiano Kaminishi
When ONE crowns its first-ever heavyweight champion this December, only the light heavyweight belt will be left on the shelf, at least in terms of the men. Jake Butler (5-1) is probably the No. 1 contender after five wins for the promotion, but he could do with a win over a big name to really establish his title credentials.
Cristiano Kaminishi (8-2-0-2) fits the bill, as he's a BJJ black belt and a former Heat heavyweight champion who has a few shelves worth of medals and trophies from his grappling career. Butler was an NCAA Division-1 wrestler but neither man is known for their striking. This looks set to be a close fight which could tell us a lot about Butler's prospects as a potential future champion.
115 lbs.: Angela Lee vs Elena Pashnina (final Facebook fight)
Angela Lee (1-0) is a half Singaporean-half Korean 19-year-old fighter who seems destined for superstardom. She looked good in her ONE debut, albeit against an overmatched Egpytian opponent, and has 15 years of martial arts experience to fall back upon.
By contrast Pashnina (0-2) impressed absolutely no one in her recent ONE fight. She was advertized as being a Sanda fighter but refused to engage against a much smaller opponent who had limited striking. Lee should win this comfortably.
135 lbs.: Muin Gafurov vs Casey Suire (first PPV fight)
Muin Gafurov (7-0) is one of the most exciting prospects in the bantamweight division. He's 19 years old, a Combat Sambo world champion and already holds a win over one of the best flyweight / bantamweight fighters in Russia. In only his second pro fight, the teenager dominated Kurban Ghadziev, who was already being tipped as a future UFC star, before finishing him with ground-and-pound.
Casey Suire (5-1) suffered the first-ever defeat of his career against Mark Striegl last time out, but was coming off two impressive ONE wins going into that fight. He's 20 years older than Gafurov, who I expect to dominate this fight from start to finish and win with a first-round stoppage.
145 lbs.: Herbert Burns vs Timofey Nastyukhin
The two top contenders in the featherweight division face off with a title shot presumably on the line. Herbert Burns (5-0) has won four fights for ONE already and the BJJ black belt has taken out some of the top fighters in the division including Honorio Banario and Hiroshige Tanaka.
While Burns has been impressive, Nastyukhin (9-1) has been simply breathtaking, knocking out Eduard Folayang with a flying knee and soccer kicks, then finishing Yusuke Kawanago in similar style in his 145-pound debut. This match up pits the BJJ of the Brazilian against the striking of the Russian and it's difficult to pick a winner.
The entire card can be purchased for 9.99 USD from here while the final four fights will also be broadcast live on domestic TV by RCTN in Indonesia.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part two.