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ONE: ‘Heart of the Lion’ preview (Pt. 1)

ONE: “Heart of the Lion” is set for the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday night and will be headlined by a bantamweight unification bout between regular champion Bibiano Fernandes and interim champion Kevin Belingon.

This bantamweight bout might well have been the biggest fight on the card. But it wasn’t originally booked as a headliner, Angela Lee was supposed to challenge Xiong Jing Nan for the strawweight strap but had to withdraw due to a back injury.

There are still 14 fights on the card and the first even will be live on Facebook and Twitter as well as the ONE Championship app.

Here’s my preview of the first seven bouts:

145 lbs.: Anthony Engelen vs Meas Meul

Anthony Engelen (6-4) is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) purple belt but is coming off back to back submission losses. He will probably be looking for a takedown here but he also showed off some serious punching power in the win over AJ Mansour last year.

That’s because Meas Meul (6-2) comes from Cambodia, a country more associated with stand up fighting than grappling. That’s a reputation Cambodian Top Team have been working to fix, and he has registered three submission wins.

145 lbs.: Hisyam Samsudin vs Xie Bin

Hisyam Samsudin (2-3) won a minor boxing title in 2016 and earned the eternal respect of ONE Championship fans when he took a fight barely 24 hours after the sudden death of his father.

Xie Bin (5-1) brings a five fight winning streak into this fight making him one of the most successful Chinese fighters on the ONE Championship roster. It would be difficult to ignore his title credentials if he won here, and he’s odds on to do just that.

145 lbs.: Muhammad Aiman vs Shuya Kamikubo

Muhammad Aiman (5-2) is a former MIMMA champion with a decision win over a BJJ black belt on his resume. He has a wide stance and a patient style, more often than not the Malaysian goes the distance.

Shuya Kamikubo (8-1-1) could have the tools to be a contender in the bantamweight division. Like Aiman he generally goes the distance but the Japanese fighter is a very strong wrestler which might be his key to victory.

155 lbs.: Shahzaib Rindh vs Feng Lei (Sanda)

This will be ONE Championship’s first ever Sanda match. The ruleset is similar to kickboxing in that it allows kicks, punches and knees but the key difference is that throws are also permitted, although unlike MMA the fight paused as soon as one man hits the ground.

With ONE Championship having ambitious plans in China we are likely to see more Sanda fights and it will be interesting to gauge the reaction of the Singapore crowd.

170 lbs.: Adrian Pang vs Kota Shimoishi

Adrian Pang (22-12-2) always comes to fight and is a bit unfortunate to find himself on a four fight losing streak. All four went the distance and two of those losses were split decisions, while the Roger Huerta fight was a toss up he clearly beat Honorio Banario in Manila.

Pang is an aggressive, walk forward fighter who pressurizes opponents. Kota Shimoishi (21-6) comes from a Judo and wrestling background but has been submitted in his last two fights, that won’t stop him from looking for the takedown here.

145lbs.: Panicos Yusuf vs Muangthai PKSaenchaigym (Muay Thai)

Muanthai PKSaenchaigym might just be the best pound for pound Muay Thai fighter on the planet. He’s certainly in the conversation and uses his elbows better than anyone else in the sport today.

That makes him a huge favourite against Panicos Yusuf who will want to stay well away from Muangthai’s fearsome elbows, and has been handed a very difficult matchup against the multiple time Lumpinee champion.

155lbs.: George Mann vs Jo Nattawut (Muay Thai)

Jo Nattawut rolled back the years to beat one of the best non Thai prospects on the Muay Thai scene in his most recent fight. He’s been based in the US for a long time and was a major star with Lion Fight before signing on for the ONE Super Series.

George Mann was born in Scotland but is based in Australia where he is regarded as an exciting prospect. He’s only had around 30 fights though and is going up against an opponent who has had at least 100.

The entire ONE: “Heart of the Lion” card will be available to view live and free using the newly launched app which you can download here. The first seven fights will also be live on twitter and facebook.

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