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ONE Champions – Who’s Hot and Who’s not

Hazwady

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Just recently I’ve done a Facebook live on the MMA Latest page talking about the issues that were being discussed on Joe Rogan’s fight companion. As I was listing out the champions of One Championship, I didn’t remember that Roger Gracie is their light heavyweight champion. In fact, I didn’t even think the promotion has a light heavyweight champion.

So with that in mind, I decided to make a list from the HOTtest at number 1 to the NOTtest at number 10 in mid-2017. FYI the featured image has a discrepancy as there are only 10 Champions in the organization.

#1. Angela Lee (8-0), Women’s Atomweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Istela Nunes on 26th May 2017 ( 2nd round submission)
Title won: vs Mei Yamaguchi 6th May 2016 ( unanimous decision)
Total number of defense: 2

Angela Lee is obviously the hottest champion to grace the promotion. All over the news and constantly talked about on the internet since her last defense, the Canadian-American has been the face of One Championship since capturing the title in May 2016. And I foresee no one overtaking her throne for a long time to come.

#2. Eduard Folayang (18-5), Lightweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Ev Ting on 21st April 2017 ( unanimous decision)
Title won: vs Shinya Aoki 11th November 2016 ( 3rd round TKO)
Total number of defense: 1

Eduard’s huge upset over Aoki in Singapore last year to capture the title has elevated his name in the MMA world. In addition, his win at home over highly regarded lightweight contender Ev Ting in has helped solidified his legitimacy further. If Eduard can continue winning the big fights, the fight crazy nation of the Philippines will have to pay attention and he could possibly become the biggest star One Championship ever had,

#3. Ben Askren (16-0), Welterweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Agilan Thani on 26th May 2017 ( 1st round TKO)
Title won: vs Nobutatsu Suzuki 29th August 2014 ( 1st round TKO)
Total number of defense: 2

Askren is a much bigger name in the West than in Asia but he has gained a little more traction in Malaysia recently after beating their undefeated prospect Agilan Thani with ease in the first round. He also broke betting records on the fight with a whopping -4500 odds as the favourite; a world record in MMA. Playing him as the ‘Heel’ that will beat up the hometown heroes will be the best way forward from here.

#4. Vitaly Bigdash (9-0), Middleweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Aung La N Sang on 14th January 2017 ( unanimous decision)
Title won: vs Igor Svirid 9th October 2015 ( 2nd round TKO)
Total number of defense: 1

We are already at the not so hot part of the list and the only reason Bigdash is higher than the rest of this list is that he is going to be fighting soon. It’s not that exciting of a rematch but he could leave a mark on the fans in Myanmar if he dominated Aung La N Sang like how he did in Jakarta.

#5. Brandon Vera (15-7), Heavyweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Hideki Sekine on 2nd December 2016 ( TKO round 1)
Title won: vs Paul Cheng 11th December 2015 ( 1st round KO)
Total number of defense: 1

Former UFC, Filipino-American Brandon Vera will always have a following in the Philippines. But that’s all really. Lack of competition hurts Vera’s chances of moving up the list.

#6. Bibiano Fernandes (20-3), Bantamweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Reece Mclaren on 2nd December 2016 ( Split Decision)
Title won: vs Soo Chul Kim 18th October 2013 ( Unanimous Decision )
Total number of defense: 5

The Flash is the most dominant champion in the history of One Championship and it is unfortunate that he is pretty low on the list. His last defense with Reece was one of the best matches he had in the promotion but in honesty, that was the only exciting match he ever had. I find him as similar to Mighty Mouse’s position now in the UFC unless of they could get Aoki to cut down or Bibiano to move up to face Marat Gafurov.

#7. Marat Gafurov (15-0), Featherweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Jadamba Narantungalag on 11th November 2016 ( 1st round submission)
Title won: vs Jadamba Narantungalag 21st November 2015 ( 4th round submission )
Total number of defense: 2

I feel that Marat Gafurov is one of the best featherweights in the world. And like Bibi, sometimes being too good in your division is a bad thing, especially if you not as loud and outspoken as Ben Askren. Superfights are the way to go for Marat now while awaiting worthy contenders for the belt.

#8. Yoshitaka Naito (12-0), Strawweight Champion

Last title defense: vs Joshua Pacio 7th October 2016 (1st round submission)
Title won: vs Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke 27th May 2016 ( 4th round submission )
Total number of defense: 1

Naito emerge when he broke the hearts of Thais in One Championship debut show in Bangkok. Taking the belt from the former Muay Thai champ in his debut, Naito still has a long way to connect with the Asian MMA fans(bar Thailand and Japan) and deservingly sits at number 8 currently.

#9. Roger Gracie (8-2), Light Heavyweight Champion

Last title defense: Nil
Title won: vs Michal Pasternak 5th June 2016 ( 1st round submission )
Total number of defense: Nil

The only reason Roger is not last is that of his last name. I’m not joking.

#10. Kairat Akhmetov (23-0), Flyweight Champion

Last title defense: Nil
Title won: vs Adriano Moraes 21st November 2015 ( Split Decision )
Total number of defense: Nil

Debut and won the title two years ago in China. Nothing since.

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Announcement

Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.

 

Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Bellator

Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April

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MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.

 

The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.

Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.

An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.

His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).

Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.

PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.

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