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ONE: ‘Heroes of Honor’ preview (Pt. 2)

ONE: “Heroes of Honor” sees Asia’s biggest MMA promotion make its move into the world of kickboxing and Muay Thai with a card featuring some of the biggest names from across the spectrum of combat sport.

The top half of the card features arguably the greatest kickboxer of all time, Giorgio Petrosyan, as well as Muay Thai legend Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and Filipino MMA fighters Kevin Belingon and Honorio Banario.

Here’s my preview of the top half of the card (to see part one click here).

155lbs.: Marat Gafurov vs Emilio Uruttia

Marat Gafurov (15-1) might well have been guilty of complacency when he lost to Martin Nguyen. He won with an early submission the first time they fought and perhaps thought victory in the rematch was a foregone conclusion.

It’s unlikely Gafurov will make the same mistake twice and the BJJ black belt should be focused and motivated as he prepares to face Emilio Urrutia (11-4). The American is well rounded and tends to go the distance but will probably be at a disadvantage on the ground.

147lbs.: Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs Fabio Pinca (Muay Thai rules)

This is the type of fight Muay Thai promotions should be making, but too many of them are content to put on one sided matches favouring the hometown hero. Fabio Pinca is a Rajdamnern champion and won the inaugural Thai Fight tournament.

The Frenchman is an aggressive fighter who hits hard whereas his opponent is known as a ‘fimeu’ or technician, an intelligent fighter capable of adjusting his style for every situation. Nong-O hasn’t been active in recent years but Pinca might struggle to get his walking weight down to 147lbs, this promises to be a fascinating fight.

155lbs.: Honorio Banario vs Adrian Pang

Adrian Pang (22-11-2) always comes to fight. He likes to walk opponents down, get in the pocket, plant his feet and throw bombs. Unfortunately this strategy hasn’t exactly paid dividends for the 40 year old in recent fights, he’s coming off three straight decision defeats.

Honorio Banario (12-6) has the speed and footwork required to utilize the ‘stick and move’ strategy that worked so well for Amir Khan against Pang. But the Filipino’s instinct is to be aggressive so this should be a funner fight than that was, although much will depend on whether the Australian can turn it into his type of brawl.

154lbs.:Giorgio Petrosyan vs Jo Nattawut

Giorgio Petrosyan is rightly regarded as the greatest kickboxer of all time and once put together a 42 fight winning streak that included victories over Fabio Pinca, Kem Sitsongpeenong, Andy Souwer, Albert Kraus and Artur_Kyshenko.

Jo Nattawut is Thai but made his name in the US where he is Lion Fight 154lbs champion. He holds wins over the likes of Cosmo Alexandre and Cedric Manhoef but normally competes under traditional Muay Thai rules and will be an underdog here.

145lbs.: Kevin Belingon vs Andrew Leone

This match pits the wushu of Kevin Belingon (17-5) against the wrestling of Andrew Leone (8-3) but both are seasoned veterans who have been training in MMA for over a decade. However it is still very clear where each man’s strength lies and the question is: can the American take the Filipino down?

This fight is slightly more nuanced than that. If it lasts long enough then sooner or later Leone will get it to the ground and then the question becomes: how long can the Team Lakay standout survive with a BJJ black belt?

There’s no question who is going to have the advantage in striking terms. Belingon has devastating kicks and a hard right hand, although he also has a tendency to overcommit to strikes which could leave openings for the takedown.

The Filipino will have taken note of how Bibiano Fernandes hurt Leone with a knee to the body and might sense a vulnerability he can exploit. The crowd will be firmly behind Belingon, but his opponent has what it takes to stifle both the hometown hero and the crowd with relentless takedowns.

The ONE Championship live stream is on hiatus until the app is launched but the first five fights will be shown live on twitter. The show will be broadcast on local TV all over Asia and there should be several free streams available.

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