We are moving towards 2016 and MMA Latest Asia will feature a three part series on our One Championship rankings for 2015. Fighters have to have fought at least once in One Championship from December 2014 to December 2015, to be featured in these rankings.
In the first part of the series, we take a look at the divisions that have little or less competition.
Only four heavyweights have stepped foot in the One Championship cage from December 2014 to December 2015. Though Chi Lewis Parry may still be contracted to One Championship, it is highly unlikely that we will see his return after the online spat he had with the promotion. With both parties accusing each other of being “scared”, it is high time for One Championship to match Brandon Vera with a legit contender and MMA latest have a few suggestions below the rankings.
Brandon Vera vs Sergei Kharitonov for the One Championship Heavyweight Title
Pride FC and K1 fans would be familiar with Russian kickboxer Sergei Kharitonov(24-6) who is currently fighting in M1 and is on a five fight winning streak since June 2012. Sergei has famous wins over current UFC Heavyweights Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem and the current UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. One Championship have prised away fighters from the promotion before, case in example, current One Championship featherweight title holder Marat Gafurov and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for the promotion to sign Sergei for a huge main event in Manila.
Viable alternative – Denis Goltsov (16-4)
The 205lbs division didn’t do any better with only four competitors after the firing of light heavyweight contender James McSweeney. However it’s clear who are the top two fighters in this division and a title fight between Jake Butler and Roger Gracie could easily co-main event a card in Singapore. The division is sorely lacking of competitors and there is a former UFC fighter who might be a risky investment but would undoubtedly have the skills to shake the division, if he could get his act clean.
Acquiring former UFC Light Heavyweight, Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva(16-5-2), was a huge UFC prospect with a 13 fight winning streak until he lost to former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in 2009. Since then, Thiago have falsified his urine sample, failed a drug test, missed weight and was arrested for aggravated assaults in 2014 but the charges were later dropped. Having Thiago in for a fight against either Cristiano or Sylvain would be an exciting matchup for the MMA fans.
Viable alternative – Maxim Grishin (21-6)
Another four man division with the title swapping hands right after Igor Svirid won the inaugural title fight in Singapore in 2014. As clear as the heavyweights, the 180lbs division have two men on top. The current top Asian middleweights are former UFC fighter Riki Fukuda in Road FC and Top FC veteran Jae Young Kim and MMA Latest believes that One Championship would have a higher chance singing the latter.
Acquiring Top FC veteran, Jae-Young Kim
32 year old Korean Jae-Young Kim has been on a tear since debuting in Top FC on December of 2013. Since then he amassed a 7 fight winning streak with impressive wins over Moise Rimbon and a 1st round TKO win over former UFC fighter Matt Horwich. If One Championship needs an Asian in that division, they don’t have to look any further.
Viable alternative – Ramazan Emeev(13-3)
After the controversies involving Luis Santos unsuccessful weight cut, it might seem that One Championship is faced with the same problem that Bellator had when Ben Askren was the 170lbs champion; lack of contenders for the title. The recent acquisition of Nikolay Alesakhin and his debut win should propel him straight into a title fight with Ben Askren, most likely the next Singapore event. The whole MMA world will be watching if One Championship is daring enough to sign out casted WSOF fighter Rousimar Palhares however, the safe option is to invade Russia.
Acquiring Russian welterweight Beslan Isaev
If you have read Bramono Lunardi’s previous piece on One Championship and M-1, you should know that it wouldn’t hurt to add another Russian in any weight division but this 32 year old Russian has amassed a record of 33-7 fighting in the local circuit with 30 finishes. One Championship has to be ahead of the queue else other major promotions will snap up Beslan in no time.
Viable alternative – Yasubey Enomoto (14-6)
Looking back at the abrupt birth of the One Championship Men’s strawweight title, the promotion have had only two strawweight fights in from December 2014-December 2015 and three strawweight fighters. As mentioned in the previous article above, the strawweight division in the world of MMA is still in its fetal stage which probably answers why there were no strawweight fights between the natives in Myanmar and Cambodia. One Championship should either raid Japan for talent or have some of their current flyweight roster make the cut down. With the rumours of One Championship trying to hold a show in Thailand in early 2016, MMA Latest may probably have the best opponent suggestion for Dejdamrong’s 125lbs belt.
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke vs Rambaa Somdet for the One Championship Strawweight title
The first Shooto flyweight champ Rambaa Somdet may be 41 years old right now but he proved that age holds no barrier with a unanimous decision win over Masayoshi Kato in Shooto on June 2015. The Thai was once the #1 ranked strawweight fighter in 2013 and having him main event with Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke for the title in Thailand would be a no brainer.
Viable alternative – Yoshitaka Naito(10-0)
Check out Part 2 in a few days as we lay out the most stacked divisions in One Championship.
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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