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Christian Lee returns to action at ONE: Heros Of The World

Jim Edwards

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Following shortly off the back of the news that ONE Championship would be receiving ’10 of millions’ in new investment, they have today announced eight fights for the upcoming ONE: Heros Of The World card set for August 13th.

Please not italic text denotes ONE Championship press release material

Christian Lee vs Martin Nguyen

Christian Lee, younger brother of ONE Women’s Atomweight Champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee, has impressed in his first few outings inside the ONE Championship cage. His growing skillset boasts unorthodox and unpredictable striking techniques, as well as technical grappling and creative submission manoeuvres. The undefeated Lee is riding the momentum of five straight stoppage wins inside the ONE cage—three by highlight reel knockout and the other two by crafty submission—and looks to continue his early success against Martin Nguyen, his toughest opponent to date.

27-year-old Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Sydney, Australia, is a former ONE Featherweight title challenger with a 6-1 professional mixed martial arts record. All of Nguyen’s victories have come within the distance in the form of four solid TKO wins and two submissions, proving how dangerous he is in all areas. Nguyen’s complete skillset allows him to compete at the highest level as a professional, and he’ll be seeking to re-enter title contention with a victory against the promising Christian Lee.

Adriano Moraes vs Andrew Leone

Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes is a highly-skilled Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with solid striking techniques. As champion, Moraes was rarely opposed inside the cage, using his long limbs to wreak havoc from range while posing the constant threat of submissions on the ground. He is on the comeback trail to regain his title, but first, he’ll have to get past the talented Andrew Leone.

26-year-old flyweight Andrew Leone of Cortland, New York, made waves in ONE Championship when he debuted with a victory over top Filipino flyweight Geje Eustaquio in 2013. He has since strung together two solid victories over high-level opponents, including a unanimous decision over Japanese MMA veteran Koetsu Okazaki in his last bout. Now Leone looks to continue his winning ways by taking on his toughest assignment yet in former champion Adriano Moraes.

Adrian Pang vs Eduard Folayang

Adrian “The Hunter” Pang is a mixed martial arts veteran from Queensland, Australia, with a 22-8-2 professional record. Throughout his storied career, Pang has decimated opponents with his powerful strikes, overwhelming them with brute strength. In his last bout, Pang easily handled Malaysian star Peter Davis, stopping him with punches just 48 seconds into the first round. In his next bout, Pang will take on top Filipino lightweight Eduard Folayang.

Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is one of the Philippines’ most well-rounded mixed martial artists, amassing an impressive 15-5 record over eight years as a professional competing in various promotions. A ONE Championship veteran since its first event in 2011, Folayang is a famed wushu champion who has won tournaments all across Asia, but he has also recently added solid grappling to his growing skill set. He now takes on his sternest challenge yet in Adrian Pang.

Eddie Ng vs Honorio Banario

Eddie “The Magician” Ng is a 30-year-old lightweight standout originally from Hong Kong. A ONE Championship veteran who has been with the promotion since its first event in 2011, Ng is known for being a devastating striker with lightning quick hands and feet, as well as a highly technical grappler with a wide range of submissions. He returns to the ONE Championship cage against former champion Honorio Banario.

A former ONE Featherweight World Champion, Team Lakay’s Honorio “The Rock” Banario has long been one of the Philippines’ most respected mixed martial arts veterans. His vast cage experience has brought him all over Asia, encompassing several memorable battles against top divisional talent. Among his many talents, wushu expert Banario’s strength lies in his striking, but he has recently improved on his grappling as well. He is now ready to showcase his growing skills against Eddie Ng.

Alain Ngalani vs Alexandre Machado

Alain “The Panther” Ngalani trains out of Impakt MMA in Hong Kong, and is a veteran heavyweight contender with massive size and strength. Armed with the agility and quickness of a lighter fighter, Ngalani is a terrifying combination of size and speed, and is always looking to end fights early. In his last bout, Ngalani needed just a little over a minute to stop Ukraine’s Igor Subora, winning by TKO in the first round. Ngalani now looks to entertain local fans in attendance with another spectacular performance as he takes on Alexandre Machado.

Brazilian heavyweight champion Alexandre “Bebezao” Machado is a rare breed of heavyweight with a penchant for submissions. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, he currently sports a 7-2 professional mixed martial arts record, and will be making his second appearance inside the ONE cage. He will have his hands full dealing with the hulking Alain Ngalani in what promises to be a classic and colossal clash of striker vs. grappler.

Ma Jia Wen vs Jimmy Yabo

Ma Hao Bin vs Chan Rothana

Kritsada Kongsrichai vs Joshua Pacio

In the evening’s initial bout offerings, rising Chinese prospects Ma Jia Wen and Ma Hao Bin take on Filipino veteran Jimmy Yabo and Cambodian star Chan Rothana respectively, while Thai national wrestling champion Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai takes on Team Lakay’s undefeated prospect Joshua Pacio.

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Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”

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In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the metro.uk, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

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UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by MMAFighting.com and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker Announces Birth of Third Child

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Times seem dull and dreary for the UFC’s Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker. The New Zealand born fighter withdrew from the promotions event debut in the eastern region of his residence, Australia. UFC 221, which takes place this Saturday, booked Whittaker to defend his title for the first time against former division champion, Luke Rockhold. His withdrawal was due to mistreatment of a serious staph infection inside of the Australians stomach.

It couldn’t get much worse, having to disappoint fans, and missing the first UFC event in eastern Australia. As it turns out, it could not get worse for Whittaker. Life only got better, as he had the pleasure of announcing the birth of his third child.

His new child is the champions third and first girl. Information regarding his child is limited as this moment is a tender and special time for the Whittaker family.

UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at Perth Arena on February 11th. The cards main event features Whittakers short notice replacement, Yoel Romero taking on Luke Rockhold. Much to the satiety of fans, an interim belt is not in the equation in this instance.

Thank God. Excuse me, thank Dana White.

UFC 221 also features the ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes, Tai Tuivasa faces Cyril Asker, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jeremy Kennedy and more.

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