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A history of debuting title contenders in One Championship Part 2

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One Championship recently announced that their Flyweight Champion, Adriano Moraes(13-1) will defend his title against debuting undefeated Kazakhstani fighter Kairat Akhmetov(22-0) on the promotion’s upcoming show in Beijing on the 21st of November. One Championship also announced that debuting Brazilian Bryan Yago(3-0) will be challenging for Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke(5-0) for the Strawweight title on November 13 in Singapore.

This series of articles will highlight the history of fighters making their promotional debut, contesting for the One Championship title since its existence in the lead up to the strawweight and flyweight title defenses in November.  Including the upcoming flyweight and strawweight title fight, One Championship had a total of 9 debutants fighting for a title.

Leandro Ataides vs Igor Svirid
ONE Fighting Championship: Battle of the Lions
November 7, 2014
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore
For the inaugural One Championship Middleweight Title

Build up:

Leandro Ataides was looking to remain undefeated with the belt around his waist. The Brazillian fought twice for One Championship previously, defeating Bryan Rafiq and Tatsuya Mizuno via knockout.

The lesser known Igor Svirid comes in as a huge underdog despite amassing six finishes out of eleven victories.

The Fight:

The fight was as brief as Igor’s introduction to South East Asian MMA fans. A straight jab which caught Ataides and dropped him very early in the round and Svirid continue swarming the Brazilian with punches, sending him crashing back down to the mat.

Result: Igor Svirid def. Leandro Ataides via TKO (punches) in 0:17 of Round 1

Adriano Moraes vs Asuka Mikami
ONE Championship: Age of Champions
March 13, 2015
Putra Indoor Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
For the ONE Championship Flyweight Title

Build up:

Japanese fighter Asuka Mikami, virtually unknown to the South East Asian MMA fans created some ripples pre fight, vowing to take the flyweight belt off Moraes’s waist.

The One Championship Flyweight Champion was defending his belt for the first time after claiming it with a win over Geje Eustaquio on September 2014. Adriano felt that Mikami was too cocky and expected a quick win on fight night.

The Fight:

The fight didn’t go as quickly as Moraes wanted. The first round belonged to the Brazilian as he scored with a head kick and two takedowns. Moraes also secured mount, but a scrambling Mikami managed to escape.

The second round was a bit more even as Moraes was able to secure a couple of takedowns, but Mikami found ways this time to scramble quickly back to his feet. The Japanese also managed to walk down Moraes, landing decent strikes in pocket exchanges.

Moraes opened with leg kicks to Mikami in the third and a series of takedowns with subsequent scrambles from Mikami. The challenger had no issue giving up his back and escaped easily when Moraes gained back control.

Mikami was able to score with a few left hands on the fourth, but  a deep cut opened over the Japanese eye from a front kick to the face. Moraes landed a double leg takedown and move to the back again before Shibuya reversed.

Moraes was able to scored another takedown in the fifth and moved to the back to attempt a rear naked choke, but Mikami once again defended and reversed.

Result:

Adriano Moraes (c) def. Asuka Mikami via Unanimous decision

Check out the third part of the series next week.

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Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship

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28 Years Old, Zhang Weili(16-1) from China has challenged Strawweight champion Angela Lee for her strap in One Championship according to a source close to the Chinese fighter. Zhang who is the champion and fighting for Chinese based promotion Kunlun FC is currently negotiating on a one fight deal to face Angela. According to the source, they would like to determine who is the best women fighter in Asia in a one-off match and would have no problems to fight under the One Championship banner.

Zhang Weili(Left) at Kunlun FC 12

Since her pro debut loss in 2013, Zhang has racked up 16 wins in 3 years with a total of 15 finishes. She is the number #6 ranked women strawweight in the World according to Fightmatrix.com, just behind Rose Namajunas who will be facing UFC champion and number #1 ranked strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title next month. Angela, on the other hand, is 9 rungs below Zhang at number 15.

Fightmatrix rankings as per 9/10/2017

While ONE was very eager to have a cross-promotion fight between Angela Lee and Joanna Jedrzejczyk to determine who has the better strawweight, they seem less eager to have a Kunlun FC champion on board for a one fight deal. The source states that ONE would need for Zhang to sign a 2-year exclusive contract first before discussing further for a fight with Angela.

If the source is accurate, ONE seems to be covering their bases this time and would not like for their champion to lose the belt to another promotion without securing Zhang on an exclusive contract. Kunlun, on the other hand, would also not want to lose their best fighter to another Asian promotion. Zhang would be a huge asset to ONE for their expansion in China but it would be tough for them to pry off the Chinese fighter as the source states that Zhang is being paid handsomely on Kunlun FC.

While things are looking bleak for a match between Angela Lee and Zhang Weili to happen in the ONE Championship cage, the fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hope that they could witness a fight between two of the best women Strawweights in Asia.

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Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship

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After speculations on who Martin Nguyen’s next opponent when he signed a fight contract, ONE Championship have confirmed that Martin Nguyen is set to challenge Eduard Folayang’s lightweight title in Manila on ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November.

The fight is the latest in a series of cross-division fights announced after Shinya Aoki vs Ben Askren and Aung La NSang vs Alain Ngalani, but this will be the first time the reigning ONE Championship titleholders from two weight divisions will clash.

Nguyen’s coach, Fari Salievski, did tease on the idea of Nguyen fighting for the title in different weight divisions , but he teased on a bantamweight division since Martin was underweight for his featherweight title fight against Marat Gafurov.

Despite being on the lighter side of a featherweight division, the new champion decided to challenge the title against a fighter a weight class above him, and opens the possibility of the first fighter in ONE Championship to challenge the title in 3 weight divisions.

“I’m not out only to make a statement, but to go down in history as the best to ever compete under the ONE Championship banner” – Martin Nguyen

ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD will be held in Malls of Asia Arena in Manila on 10 November 2017

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Bashir Ahmad embraces new role in ONE Championship

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Bashir Ahmad is appointed as the Senior Manager of Industry Partnerships, the role made to develop and strengthen the relationships between ONE Championship and various MMA gyms and promotions.

“EssentiallyI see myself doing what I did in Pakistan and working to accelerate the growth of MMA in Asia with other players in the MMA scene,” Ahmad explained.

As the pioneer of Pakistani MMA, Bashir Ahmad has worked to promote MMA in Pakistan, most notably the Shaheen Gym project, a non-profit gym which serves to take at-risk youth off the street with the appeal and focus of MMA. With his new position in ONE, Ahmad believes he will be better positioned to develop MMA in Asia, particularly in his hometown Pakistan.

“I think it’s a win-win. I’ve learned about developing MMA in a really difficult market – Pakistan, and I bring that experience with me.”

“On the flip side, I get work with one of the world’s most professional martial arts brands and bring those lessons to my mission in Pakistan.”

4-3 on his professional MMA career, Ahmad has been fighting for ONE Championship since April 2013 and became the first ONE Championship athlete to make the transition from into the management role in the promotion. Despite this additional role, Ahmad is adamant that his new role in ONE Championship does not take him away from active competition.

“100% not retired. I can certainly train. If Martin can beat Gafurov while being a full-time mechanic, I can certainly train when I work in the MMA industry for a living. It’s about time management and training smart.”

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