Jerome S. Paye will be the first Liberian to fight in ONE Championship cage come the February 20th, and he’s out to make a point after his postponed debut.
The Liberian born martial artist first got involved in martial arts at the age of 10 when he started Tae Kwon Do, which he proceeded up to 3rd degree black belt. Like many MMA professionals, the 32-year old had his interest in cross training & MMA when he watched UFC, which eventually took him to his first professional MMA fight in 2011 where he fought in an 8-man tournament which he lost in the finals, his only loss to date.
“I love to watch UFC and sitting and looking how those guys fight, I was like “I think I can do this” so I started training in other martial arts to get myself prepare, doing BJJ, Muay thai, Boxing, Wrestling. Then over 5 years ago I started fighting in local MMA Events, it’s a different experience ,pretty tough, but I love it. Was thankful to get Indonesia number MMA fighter (ed: Fransino Tirta) as my coach, right now I am taking my MMA level to another level at ONE Championship.
“Well, looking at my past MMA preparation and that of the present ONE Championship Preparation are pretty different and pretty tough. Because prepare for a high level MMA fight one must train as harder as you can. Presently I train 2 times a day, morning and evening 11 times a week, which it’s pretty tough. Like my previous fights, I only train less than this.
Setting himself off to a bigger stage, the eccentric Liberian takes the obvious step up in training for his ONE Championship debut. However, he realises that in an ever increasing market, he need to make himself stood out from the crowd in and out of the ring, and picked a rather unique namesake that represents his fighting style – RSTP.
“RSTP means Rapid Strike The Predator. Rapid Strike because my kicks and punches are faster, [and] The Predator, Because of my Grappling I attack like a Predator.”
After bouncing back from his loss with a dominant in 2013, Paye is ready for the bigger stage, but contract negotiations delayed his entry to ONE, as well as the opportunity to avenge his only professional loss 4 years ago against American Casey Suire, who have fought 4 times in ONE, including a co-main event fight.
“Yeah I was contacted many times by ONE to fight, but i think at that time, there was no good understanding between ONE and my Coach and Manager. Right now ,all my contract is on and I am now a ONE Championship fighter. Now that i am in ONE Championship and in the same weight class as Casey,hope one day me and Casey can get a Re-Match. Jerome vs Casey 2, specially in Jakarta, Indonesia, will be a great one, fans will love this one.
Before he can face Suire in the rematch, however, The Liberian will face Li Hao Jie in his adopted hometown of Jakarta. Li may only have his professional MMA debut against Paye, but RSTP knows that he needs to get past him to even consider a rematch, so he pulled no punches and ensures a good scrap on Saturday night.
“Well don’t know much about my opponent Li. I heard he’s a Striker and a MMA fighter, but I won’t underestimate him, and it’s gonna be a good fight.
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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