One Championship returns to Kuala Lumpur this weekend for their second event of 2016. The show will be headlined by a lightweight (170lbs) bout between New Zealander Ev Ting (10-3) and Filipino Eric Kelly(12-1). Let’s take a closer look at this evenly matched fight.
Eric Kelly seems to have resolved his conflict with the One Championship’s brass over a contractual dispute with a return to the promotion on October 2015. Eric, who is the only winner of the USD$50k warrior bonus, defeated Hiroshige Tanaka in the previous show in Kuala Lumpur via unanimous decision. Observers commented that the 33 year old was not at par in his last performance and barely scrape the win, therefore coming into the cage this weekend as the underdog despite holding a string of 3 wins since 2013. Malaysian born New Zealander Ev Ting, comes in as the hometown favourite. Interestingly, Eric Kelly fought in Kuala Lumpur(4 times) more times than Ev(3 times). Ev last appeared in the One Championship cage with a quick 1st round guillotine choke win over former featherweight champion, Honorio Banario.
Expect the fight to start slowly with constant feigns from both fighters and plenty of kicks being thrown around. Ev Ting is very comfortable striking in both stances and will much likely switch to the southpaw intermittenly against the orthodox Kelly. Ev has the tendency to launch a combo from a safe distance in southpaw with either one of his left limbs which will cause problems for Kelly who tends to be flat footed in striking exchanges leaving him static.
In this position Ev can also mix it up and penetrate deep into a single leg takedown on the opponents lead leg.
Eric is most definitely capable of defending the takedowns and this could lead to plenty of stalls in this fight when they grapple for position from the cage wall but Eric has a tendency to use the head throw in grappling exchanges which at times will leave him giving up his back after an unsuccessful attempt.
However, Eric is not only comfortable defending with his back against his opponent as shown in his fight againts Rob Lisita and Hiroshige Tanaka, he is also capable of throwing vicious “no look” elbows from that position which gave the most damage to Tanaka in the third round.
Ev has never gone the distance in One Championship and this could be his first as Eric is probably one of the toughest fighters in the division. Decisions usually favour the hometown fighter in MMA and if Eric wants the win, he would have to find a way to finish and Ev does sometimes get himself caught in messy brawls which Eric could capitalize on. But I expect a more conservative Ev this weekend to outpoint Eric and gain the judges nod.
Ev Ting will face Eric Kelly on One Championship – Clash of Heroes on 29th January at Stadium Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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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