Bashir Ahmad was due to fight in ONE cage last September in Jakarta, but with the main event fighter Jadambaa Narantungalag’s visa issue prior to the event, Nguyen was promoted to main event & Ahmad was left without an opponent.
The Pakistani is back to Jakarta for the third time, and he will take on Jimmy Yabo in front of Jakarta crowd. We caught up with Somchai before the event & discuss several items, including his experience on the new weigh in procedure, his opponent Jimmy Yabo, & the India – Pakistan rivalry in MMA.
MMALatest: Since the new weigh in policies were announced, there has been 2 events to implement new policies, including a title fight. With 2 events running, have it answer the questions on the implementation process?
Ahmad: I have talked to ONEFC staff and fighters who has used the new weigh in policy and it certainly answers a lot of questions. Just as ONE has stated when they implemented the policy the focus is on fighter safety and making sure people are being healthy. I hear it’s very strict.
MMALatest: With the weight and hydration monitored constantly beginning from 3 weeks before the fight day, can you tell us how it affects your overall preparation?
Ahmad: I feel great, I’m less than a week now and there is no stress about my weight. According to my scale I am half a kilo under weight and I am fully hydrated, I am sparring well and training hard and not lacking in energy. It feels good honestly.
MMALatest: For comparison, how much do you weigh in 2 weeks before the fight under the old method and the new method?
Ahmad: I actually weigh about the same. maybe a little heavier but I’m actually probably the same amount of muscle mass. Because of the new policy you cant have an extra few pounds of fat on you and then say to your self “Damn, I didn’t stick to the nutrition plan, but its ok, I’ll just sweat off the extra weight” I am much more detailed about as lean as possible and I am down to about 7% body fat. Before I may have been closer to 9 or 10%
MMALatest: Yabo is your first opponent in ONE with a running 2-fight losing streak. What do you think of Yabo, and does his record changes the way you prepare for the fight since he may got little to nothing to lose heading into the fight?
Ahmad: It doesn’t change how I prepare. I prepare just as seriously whether the guy is on a winning streak or a losing streak. I do expect him to be a lot better. He’s got two ONE fight sunder his belt now and that experience matters ALOT. If you look at my student Waqar, his first two fights didn’t show his true potential but when he fought Benedict you saw his skill set emerge and manifest itself. I’m taking this fight very seriously.
MMALatest: Do you want to fight Martin Nguyen, especially looking at how that fight was cancelled last minute and looking like an unfinished business?
Ahmad: I have a lot of options in front of me. Me and Martin may cross paths eventually but the only person I “want” to fight is an Indian, and I suppose that means Meena Singh. I want to fight that guy in Bangkok. India vs Pakistan is HUGE. HUGE. You have to see the press and hype that is generated when two guys from each country fight in the smaller shows. Imagine what it would be like with the promotional might that ONE has. This fight has to happen and it has to happen now.
Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship
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.
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.
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.
Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship
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
Bashir Ahmad embraces new role in ONE Championship
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.
“Essentially, I 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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