ONE: “Pursuit of Greatness” is set for the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on Friday night. As has become the custom for Yangon events, Aung La Nsang will be headlining the card and this time it’s his middleweight title on the line.
The government in Myanmar won’t sanction Muay Thai fights but there are four kickboxing matches on the card. Undefeated Russian featherweight Movlid Khaibulaev appears for the first time since 2017.
Here’s my preview of the last five fights (to see part one click here).
148lbs.: Radeem Rahman vs Mazakazu Imanari
This was a last minute addition to the card and that means there are numerous intangibles. Which fighter was in the gym, training regularly and waiting for a fight offer and which fighter was sitting at home on the couch?
We won’t know the answer to that question until Friday but Mazakazu Imanari (36-18-2) will be wanting to get this to the ground. Radeem Rahman (3-1) is well rounded without being exceptional in any area, his takedown defence will need to be on point if he wants to get anything out of this.
225lbs.: Ibrahim El Bouni Vs Tarik Khbabez (Kickboxing)
Ibrahim El Bouni has the classic Dutch kickboxing style and made short work of an opponent who was more of a brawler on his ONE Super Series debut. The Moroccan keeps a tight guard and looks to attack with straight punches and low kicks.
Tarik Khbabez also holds a ONE Super Series win. He’s a few inches shorter than El Bouni and the difference in reach and range could be key to deciding this all Moroccan kickboxing bout.
155lbs.: Phoe Thaw Vs Keanu Subba
Phoe Thaw (6-0) has put together a very impressive ONE Championship record although he has faced a relatively low level of opposition. He’s a karate fighter who appears to train out of his own MMA gym in Yangon.
Keanu Subba (6-3) made his pro debut in 2011 and also has a lot of amateur experience. He trains out of Bali MMA and has three submission wins to his record, the Malaysian will be looking for a fourth here.
155lbs.: Rafael Nunes Vs Movlid Khaibulaev
Movlid Khaibulaev (12-0) appears to come from a wrestling or sambo background and dominated Herbert Burns on his ONE Championship debut last year. He will be a strong favourite here and will subject Rafael Nunes (11-2) to a ruthless onslaught of takedowns and ground and pound.
Whether the Brazilian will be able to cope with Khaibulaev’s pressure remains to be seen. Burns is a decorated BJJ black belt and he was powerless to prevent the Russian from controlling every aspect of the action, Nunes is definitely an underdog here.
205lbs.: Aung La N Sang Vs Mohammad Karaki (for La Nsang’s middleweight title)
Aung La Nsang (23-10-0-1) has a perfect record in Myanmar, with six wins out of six in this stadium. He has a Muay Thai striking style and is strong in the clinch, has solid kicks and an ability to maintain a high pace for 25 minutes if required.
Mohammad Karaki (9-0) looks like an accomplished grappler, he used a textbook kimura sweep to escape from bottom position and ultimately secure the submission win in his most recent fight.
However he will be in for a sterner test against the more experienced La Nsang, who fought 25 times in the US before signing for ONE Championship. Having beaten Ken Hasegawa in his last fight the Burmese southpaw will be brimming with confidence and should have too much for Karaki.
The entire ONE: “Pursuit of Greatness” card will be available to view live and free using the newly launched app which you can download here. The first four fights will also be live on twitter and facebook.