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Marat Gafurov clinches ONE featherweight belt in 41 seconds

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Marat Gafurov receives his belt from MNC CEO Hary Tanoesoedibyo (Credit: ONE Championship)

Marat Gafurov receives his belt from MNC CEO Hary Tanoesoedibyo (Credit: ONE Championship)

Marat Gafurov didn’t fight ONE Featherweight Champion Jadamba Narantungalag in Jakarta due to visa issues and faced a last-minute replacement in Martin Nguyen, but he definitely made a statement that he deserved the title shot. In what is arguably ONE Championship’s most stacked card to date, “Cobra” finished the Australian in 41 seconds after reversing Nguyen’s takedown attempt into a back mount and quickly finish the fight with little effort, claiming the interim featherweight title. The Russian wasted no time, confidently calling out the ONE Featherweight Champion Naratungalag Jadambaa for a unification bout on the post-fight interview.

The fight of the night was the clash between Roger Huerta and Koji Ando, who just came off a failed title shot against ONE Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki. Huerta opened the round strong and pressured Ando with strikes, but Ando manage to land several counter strikes. As the bout progressed, both fighters switched gears and exchanged shots in a brawl, but Ando quickly had the upper hand, connecting with cleaner shots en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Earlier in the night, the Aleksei Butorin made a statement on his ONE Championship debut by knocking out former ONE Middleweight title challenger Leandro Ataides. Butorin survived an extremely tight Americana from Ataides in the first round, only to came back strong in the second, rocking the Brazilian with several punches and knocking out his opponent with a perfectly timed head kick.

Finally, on a potential featherweight title eliminator, Herbert Burns finished the rising star Timofey Nastyukhin. After a brief feeling out period, Burns took the fight to the ground and proceeded to control the Russian’s back. After multiple choke attempts, the no-gi BJJ world champion ended the fight in the opening stanza.

Full results on the night are as per below:

Sunoto def. Mario Wirawan by Unanimous decision

Interim ONE Featherweight World Championship bout:
Marat Gafurov def. Martin Nguyen by submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:41 of round 1

Vincent Latoel def. Arnaud Lepont by KO (Strikes) at 0:15 of round 2

Koji Ando def. Roger Huerta by Unanimous decision

Aleksei Butorin def. Leandro Ataides by KO (Strikes) at 3:18 of round 2

Herbert Burns def. Timofey Nastyukhin by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:26 of round 1

Jake Butler def. Cristiano Kaminishi by Unanimous Decision

Muin Gafurov def. Casey Suire by KO (Spinning back kick) at 0:55 of round 1

Angela Lee def. Mona Samir by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:49 of round 1

Yusup Saadulaev def. Sotir Kichukov via Submission (Arm triangle choke) at 1:10 of round 2

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Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship

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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.

Zhang Weili(Left) at Kunlun FC 12

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.

Fightmatrix rankings as per 9/10/2017

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.

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Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship

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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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Bashir Ahmad embraces new role in ONE Championship

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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.

“EssentiallyI 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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