When One Championship announced the Manila card, one fight stood out to be an outright contender to be the fight of the night and it would be no other than the battle between undefeated Hawaiian wrestler, Lowen Tynanes and former One Championship Lightweight title contender, Japanese Koji Ando. A modern grappler vs striker battle, expect a scintillating performance by both fighters who are clearly in pursuit of the lightweight(170lbs) belt held by Shinya Aoki.
The Hawaiian wrestler, Tynanes, signed for One Championship in 2013 without much fanfare despite gaining an upset victory over well-known Filipino striker Eduard Folayang outside of the promotion. An impressive win over lightweight powerhouse Vuyisile Colossa on his promotional debut caught the attention of the fans. He then collected another 3 wins in the One Championship cage, last defeating Rasul Rakhyaev via RNC in the third round, edging closer towards the lightweight belt.
Koji Ando, already a staple in the South East Asian MMA scene, signed with One Championship in 2014. He grabbed a quick victory via RNC over Rafael Nunes and an impressive TKO victory over Zorobabel Moreira earned him his title shot in early 2015. Koji not only fall short but displayed a disappointing performance throughout his five rounds battle for the belt with Shinya Aoki. Koji made amends thereafter and gained a well-deserved unanimous decision victory over former UFC star, Roger Huerta in September of 2015.
Pre Fight Analysis
The Japanese showed a drastically different game against Huerta compared to when he fought Aoki. Ando was very tentative against Aoki and was content to trade with his back against the cage but with Huerta, Ando was the hunter. The southpaw’s right hand is his bread and butter; accurate jabs, precise right hook counters and ultimately setting up his powerful left straight. Nothing fancy, Ando is just out there to hurt people.
Ando displayed very intelligent footwork in his last match which we will definitely see in the upcoming mouth-watering bout against Tynanes. Apart from the right hook, Ando prefers to perform a slight twisting of his lead foot to check leg kicks which could then set up for a counter punch. The orthodox Tynanes likes to attack the lead leg against southpaws and could be left open to eat a right hand by Ando as shown in his previous fight with Kuat Khamitov.
While Ando’s game is pretty straightforward, Tynanes can mix it up as and when he pleases. As stated earlier in the introduction as a modern grappler vs striker match up, the modern grappler uses his striking and movement skills to set up the takedowns. Tynanes favourite would be a variation of the running knee tap.
Tynanes would charge into a running tap right if he were to see any sign of his opponent putting his guard down. Even if he doesn’t complete it, it is evident that this technique is effective for him to push his opponent back to the cage, where he will transition to a single or double leg variation to take his opponent down.
Tynanes also have the habit of charging for a double leg at lengthy distances and he has been very effective at that mainly due to his powerful acceleration. Ando has shown that he can effectively defend the takedowns, as displayed in his last fight with Roger but it could be too much to ask for the Japanese to stop Tynanes takedown attempts.
Expect plenty of scrambles and clinches in this fight which could turn the tide for either sides, but if I was a betting man, I would place my chips on a decision win by Tynanes as he have the ability to grind it out and smother Ando on the ground. If he managed to submit Ando, it would be a bonus as Aoki failed to submit Ando in five rounds. All he has to do is to watch out for Ando’s left hand. Are you fired up yet?
Koji Ando will face Lowen Tynanes on One Championship – Global Rivals, April 15th, Mall of Asia, Manila, Phillipines.
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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