After Irina Mazepa’s signing with ONE Championship was announced in June last year, the Russian was will finally make her debut this Friday on ONE Championship: Tigers of Asia.
With 0-0 Professional MMA record, the Russian may seem outmatched against the hometown hero Ann Osman in her professional MMA debut this weekend, but with 6 world championships and more than 25 kickboxing fights under her belt, the fight may be more competitive than on paper.
We caught up with Mazepa ahead of her fight, including her postponed debut and how she is closer to MMA than it seemed to be.
MMALatest: please let us know more about your journey from wushu to kickboxing, and finally to MMA?
Mazepa: Well, as Champion of wushu all kind of competitions all around the world, and some years ago, I was in Turkey were there was a great K-1 event. My job was to make an acrobatic wushu show on the ring on the middle of the event, to make a pause in the kickboxing show.
I had to stay several days at this place, with all kick-boxing teams, and sometimes I have to train to prepare my show at the same time of some of these teams. That’s how i meet Didier Le Borgne, he was training and managing his own team of fighters.
We talked and we had the idea to make me try to fight , and why not to start a new sport career. This challenge was very exciting, I won everything in wushu and i had not great stimulation for making again the same competitions, so I made only shows… Challenge me for fighting for real in new sport was very exciting , that’s why we start a collaboration for the training and fights.
The initial idea of didier was to bring me to MMA, but , as he is Muay Thai trainer to start to teach me stand up fight skills with Muay Thai, and let me fight directly in professional kick-Boxing and Muay Thai fights. My career in KickBoxing was going on, and we didn’t spoke anymore about MMA.
When Mayumi Yamamoto proposed to Didier to book MMA fights for me, we catch this opportunity….
MMA Latest: What motivates your move to professional MMA from kickboxing?
Mazepa: As I explained, MMA carreer was already at the beginning of my collaboration with Didier Le Borgne his goal. At this time Gina Carano was the female star of MMA, and Didier was sure that I could one day be able to fight with this girl… it was in 2006, and Didier told me that the MMA buisness will grow up in next future by the female MMA fights… I was not sure, but now I understand what he meant.
MMA Latest: Your ONE Championship debut had to be postponed for a year you had to pull out from the fight against Ana Julaton. What happenned back then?
Mazepa: When we received the proposition to fight against Ana Julaton, it was to fight on Aug 29, 2014. I had already a contract to fight in Muay Thai against Thai Champion Chommanee sor Taehiran in Saint_Tropez (France) on Aug. 04.
Because of this fight, ONE FC decided that it was too short time betwen 04 and 29 August and ONE FC decided to postpone my MMA debut.
MMA Latest: With the postponement, you had several kickboxing fights, including a 1-night, 8-woman tournament in August last year. Is that your way of not getting any ring rust?
Mazepa: As ONE [Championship] decided to postpone my MMA entrance because of my fight in France, [and]we received the offer to participate at Kunlun 8 girls tournament in China on August 31…
After my fight in France against Chommanee, I was not injuried at all and ready to fight again the day after… being free by ONE Championship, we accepted the opportunity from Kunlun.
MMA Latest: What are your thoughts on your opponent, Ann Osman and fighting on her home ground? She is on a 3-fight winning streak, including a split decision win against Ana Julaton where she replaced you.
Mazepa: I have always many respect for all my opponents. She is for sure a very tough fighter, winning against Ana Julaton means she is strong and well prepared.
She will be at home, but I did all my fights outside my home, and many times at my opponents’ home, so, it’s not a problem for me.
I hope to be the girl who will break her fight winning streak, anyway I will do my best to make it.
She is a good fighter, she’s beautiful ( I’m not bad too ), so I think it will be good and interesting show for the public.
RIZIN Fighting World Grand Prix 2017: 1st Round Results
The first day of RIZIN FF action is in the books after a action packed yet bizarre night/morning of fights. We now have the semi finalists of the bantamweight GP which will take place on the stacked New Years Eve card. The card displayed plenty of Japanese MMA talent, 3 of which are in the semi finals of the bantamweight GP. The undercard featured plenty of close fights including upsets over Reina Miura and Anthony Birchak. The full results are as follows:
Kyoji Horiguchi def. Gabriel Oliveira via TKO (punches) – Round 1 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket A)
Manel Kape def. Ian McCall via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket A)
Shintaro Ishiwatari def. Kevin Petshi via knockout (punch) – Round 1 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket B)
Takafumi Otsuka def. Khalid Taha via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket B)
Jiri Prochazka def. Karl Albrektsson via TKO (punches) – Round 1
Cindy Dandois def. Reina Miura via split decision
Jae Hoon Moon def. Anthony Birchak via split decision – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal reserve bout
Kai Asakura def. Kizaemon Saiga via TKO (punches, knee) – Round 2
Kana Watanabe def. Shizuka Sugiyama via unanimous decision
Kiichi Kunimoto def. Satoru Kitaoka via unanimous decision
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
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