Asia’s biggest MMA promotion heads to Manila for one of three shows scheduled for the MOA Arena this year. ONE: ‘Global Superheroes’ is headlined by an interim title bout between Geje Eustaquio and Kairat Akhmeov and also features Joshua Pacio, Eric Kelly and Edward Kelly.
In total there are eight MMA fights on this Friday night’s (Jan. 26, 2018) card as well as one Muay Thai bout. Here’s my preview of the last four fights (to read part one click here).
Ma Hao Bin vs Sotir Kichukov
Sotir Kichukov (13-6) has dropped down to flyweight in a bid to snap a four fight losing streak. In fairness those defeats have all come at the hands of high level opponents and it will be interesting to see if Ma Hao Bin (8-1) can enjoy similar success against the Bulgarian.
Bin is a southpaw who loves a takedown. He will look to outwrestle Kichokov and maybe finish him with ground and pound or a submission.
Eric Kelly vs Rafael Nunes
Featherweight Rafael Nunes (10-1) signed for ONE Championship as a 10-0 prospect and looked set to be an immediate contender in the lightweight division. However it took Koji Ando just 90 seconds to submit him in 2014 and he hasn’t been seen since.
Apparently Nunes’ four year absence has been due to a combination of injury, illness and personal issues. Opponent Eric Kelly (12-4) hasn’t won since 2015 but has been consistently facing high level competition which is more than can be said for the Brazilian.
Kelly’s specialty has always been his submissions but he also possesses the sort of raw determination required to recover from adverse situations inside the cage. At 35 he’s unlikely to improve dramatically but he should have too much for an opponent who looked extremely limited in his last appearance.
Joshua Pacio vs Ming Qian Lan
Unfortunately Pongsiri Mitsatit got sick which robbed this card of its most intriguing fight. In his place steps Ming Qian Lan (1-1) who could best be described as an unknown quantity, with just two 2015 fights listed.
It seems unlikely that the Chinese fighter would have fought twice in the space of two days in 2015 and then promptly retired so presumably he is more experienced than his record suggests.
He certainly hasn’t been facing opponents of the calibre of Pacio (10-2). The Filipino has a background in Wushu and his two losses both came at the expense of undefeated Japanese champions.
Pacio’s strength is his striking but his wrestling and ground game are improving rapidly. Lan is more of a mystery but given his apparent lack of experience it seems unlikely the Chinese strawwweight will pull off an upset here.
Geje Eustaquio vs Kairat Akhmetov (for interim flyweight title)
The strength of Geje Eustaquio (9-6) is clearly his striking. He has the sideways stance and the eclectic range of kicks we have come to expect from Team Lakay fighters but lacks a bit of power, the Filipino tends to go the distance.
Kairat Akhmetov (24-1) is a wrestler and has a far more impressive record than his opponent. He won the first fight with takedowns but was fortunate to get given a time out after Eustaquio stunned him with an upkick.
There’s no way of knowing just how badly hurt Akhmetov was but it was a dreadful refereeing error and probably cost Eustaquio the fight. However the Kazakh is unlikely to fall into the same trap twice, and will be cautious about getting countered by upkicks when standing up to ground and pound.
It seems likely that Akhmetov will outwrestle Eustaquio here and it wouldn’t be a major surprise if this one went the distance. However potentially having five rounds to work with means the Filipino will have plenty of opportunity to change the outcome of the fight with a single strike.