ONE Championship moves into the boxing business this Saturday night (local time) in Bangkok and, as we have come to expect from Chatri Sityodong’s promotion, they are doing it in a big way.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the best super flyweight on the planet, will defend his WBC 115-pound title against Iran Diaz in the main event.
For MMA fans, the lightweight bout between Shinya Aoki and Ev Ting at ONE: “Kingdom of Heroes” provides plenty of interest. It could, and perhaps should, have been a title match but Martin Nguyen only vacated his belt a few day’s ago meaning it will be an eliminator instead.
There’s plenty of Muay Thai and kickboxing action on the 14 fight card which can be watched free of charge using the ONE Championship app. Here’s my preview of the first seven fights.
135 lbs.: Dodi Mardian vs Ramon Gonzales
Ramon Gonzales (2-2) has a first degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate but won his last fight by way of an arm triangle choke submission, which suggests that the Filipino has picked up some new tricks since making his MMA debut in 2009.
Dodi Mardian (1-3) has three first round stoppage defeats on his record and is unlikely to pose too many problems for a Filipino fighter looking to score his second straight ONE Championship win.
145 lbs.: Fu Chang Xin vs Rin Saroth
Fu Chaing Xin (8-1) brings an impressive record into his second ONE Championship fight although the only opponent of note he has beaten is Frans Mlambo. He was getting beaten up by a Russian journeyman in his last fight, but only needed one takedown to turn things around.
Rin Saroth (3-5) is 2-2 in ONE Championship bouts and coming off the most impressive result and performance of his career. The Cambodian will feel confident he can win a striking contest but needs to avoid getting taken down by the Chinese bantamweight.
135 lbs.: Petchdam Gaiyanghadao vs Kenny Tse (Muay Thai)
Petchdam Gaiyanghadao is one of the top fighters on the stadium scene in Thailand and has a reputation for having some of the hardest kicks in the business. Once he’s softened an opponent up by hammering his left shin into their body 20 times the Thai will go to the head, like he did last time out in the ONE Super Series.
Kenny Tse has an 0-2 pro boxing record but appears to have won some titles in Australia competing at either kickboxing or Muay Thai. The Chinese fighter doesn’t appear to have ever faced an opponent of Petchdam’s calibre though.
115 lbs.: Rika Ishige vs Bozhena Antoniyar
Bozhena Antoniyar (1-0) made the brave decision to move to Bali MMA to prepare for this fight. She won her ONE Championship debut in 24 seconds, which didn’t tell us much, but the Leone brothers will have her well prepared for this one.
Like Antoniyar, Rika Ishige (3-2) had her first ever MMA fight under the ONE Championship banner. She comes from a grappling background but doesn’t have much striking experience and this looks like it could be a very evenly matched contest.
135 lbs.: Singtongnoi Por Telakun vs Masahide Kudo (Kickboxing)
Singtongnoi Por Telakun would be much more comfortable competing under Muay Thai rules. Masahide Kudo won the Rise featherweight title earlier this year and is definitely more of a kickboxer than the Thai.
However just because Kudo relies on punches and kicks more than Singtongnoi doesn’t necessarily mean he throws them better. The Thai is technically superior but significantly older than the ONE Super Series newcomer.
125 lbs.: Hayato Suzuki vs Robin Catalan
Robin Catalan (8-3) brings a two fight winning streak into this bout which had originally been booked for brother Rene. He’s coming off an impressive heel hook victory, although the previous win was by DQ after he was slammed on his head.
Hayato Suzuki (18-1-2) is 2-1 for ONE Championship after suffering the first defeat of his career at the hands of Alex Silva. He’s coming off a submission win and will be looking to set up an all Japanese title fight with Yoshitaka Naito, potentially in Tokyo.
145 lbs.: Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai vs Alaverdi Ramazanov (Muay Thai)
Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai is a star on the stadium scene in Thailand, just like Petchdam. In fact the two men both come from the same village although the former is a clinch and knee fighter and a decorated veteran.
Alaverdi Ramazanov is a Max Muay Thai veteran who is good with his knees and elbows. But Petchmorrakot has a similar style and has been making it work against the best fighters in the business since the start of the decade.
The entire ONE: “Kingdom of Heroes” card will be available to view live and free using the newly launched app which you can download here. The first eight fights will also be live on twitter and facebook.