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ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS SET FOR 5th AUGUST IN MACAO

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ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS
5Th August
The Venetian, Macao

Bibiano Fernandes(c) vs Andrew Leone – For the One Bantamweight World Championship
Timofey Nastyukhin vs Koji Ando
Shannon Wiratchai vs Rob Lisita
Joshua Pacio vs Hayato Suzuki
Eric Kelly vs Kotetsu Boku
Chen Lei vs Saiful Merican
Herbert Burns vs Magomed Idrisov
Rika Ishige vs Jomary Torres
Leandro Ataides vs Michal Pasternak
Marc Marcellinus vs Tran Quang Loc

One Championship Press Release below

37-year-old Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes of Brazil is the reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion, and widely considered one of the best bantamweights in the world. He made his promotional debut back in 2012 and captured the title in 2013, and has since then remained unbeaten inside the ONE Championship cage, showcasing tremendous striking and grappling ability. A winner of his last 12 bouts, including three submissions and two knockouts, Fernandes is set to defend his title against Andrew Leone.

Andrew Leone of Cortland, New York, is a 27-year-old martial artist who trains alongside some of the most talented combat sports athletes in Asia at the renowned Bali MMA gym in Bali, Indonesia. With a standout record of eight wins and only two losses, Leone is coming off three solid victories over top caliber opponents, earning him a shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship. In his next bout, Leone will challenge Bibiano Fernandes for the world title.

27-year-old Timofey Nastyukhin is a professional martial artist from Russia competing in ONE Championship’s stacked lightweight division. He owns a 10-3 record, with all of his wins coming by spectacular finish. With four submissions and six knockouts on his resume, Nastyukhin is considered one of the finest offensive forces in the promotion. He announced his arrival on Asia’s biggest stage with an emphatic flying knee knockout victory over Eduard Folayang in 2014, and also owns stoppage wins over top talents Rob Lisita and Yusuke Kawanago. This time, Nastyukhin is set to face Koji Ando.

Koji “The Commander” Ando is one of Japan’s fiercest competitors, having been a professional martial artist since 2008. The Japanese combatant is never in a boring bout, and always remains a threat no matter the opponent. With an array of diverse striking skills coupled with solid submission grappling credentials, Ando is ready to claim victory once again inside the ONE Championship cage. This time, he battles Timofey Nastyukhin.

Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai of Thailand is a staple in exciting and memorable battles inside the ONE Championship cage. A mainstay of Bangkok Fight Lab, he trains in various martial arts disciplines at home in Bangkok, including Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. An offensive innovator, Wiratchai likes to be creative with his striking, employing a myriad of unpredictable off-angle elbows and kicks. Wiratchai seeks to continue his winning ways in ONE Championship as he takes on the veteran Rob Lisita.

34-year-old “Ruthless” Rob Lisita of Campbelltown, Australia, is known as a relentless offensive force, armed with powerful striking combinations intended to score highlight-reel knockouts. He is 14-9 as a professional martial arts athlete, and has proven to be a fixture in big bouts owing to his fan-friendly style. A veteran competitor who has faced the best in his division and beyond, Lisita looks to continue fulfilling his goal of competing against the promotion’s top contenders. His next assignment is fierce striker Shannon Wiratchai.

21-year-old Joshua Pacio of Baguio City is a professional martial arts athlete with a 9-1 record. He is one of the Philippines’ most talented strawweights. A member of the famed Team Lakay MMA gym, Pacio is a wushu specialist with a solid grappling repertoire. All but one of his career victories have come by spectacular finish, including five wins by submission and three wins by knockout. A former ONE Strawweight World Championship title challenger, Pacio is looking to bring himself back to title contention with another victory. A tough task is ahead of Pacio, however, as he is slated to lock horns with Hayato Suzuki.

30-year-old Hayato Suzuki of Saitama, Japan, is a professional martial arts athlete with an unblemished 16-0-2 record. Spending the majority of his career competing in his native Japan, Suzuki is known as a well-rounded warrior who has the ability to stop his foes with his heavy hands and technical grappling skills. Out of 16 wins, Suzuki has finished 11 of his opponents, including six by submission and five by knockout. He is set to make his ONE Championship debut against rising star Joshua Pacio.

35-year-old standout Eric “The Natural” Kelly of Baguio City is widely considered one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines. The wushu practitioner combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, which has resulted in nine impressive submissions and one knockout out of 12 total victories. Kelly’s most impressive showing to date came via a hard-fought submission win over Rob Lisita in 2014, a performance which earned him a US$50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus. In his next bout, Kelly will face tough striker Kotetsu Boku.

Kotetsu “No Face” Boku, although originally from South Korea, is a Japanese martial arts legend and the former ONE Lightweight World Champion. With more than 30 professional bouts on his resume, Boku has the experience of a seasoned veteran and has seen it all inside the cage. Always a crowd pleaser, Boku utilizes his dynamic boxing background with world-class grappling to subdue his opponents. He’ll now get the chance to put on a show once again opposite Eric Kelly.

Unbeaten 28-year-old “Rock Man” Chen Lei of Changsha, China is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and the Shanghai Open BJJ Champion. His ability to grapple has led Chen to five straight victories as a professional martial artist. In his last bout, Chen made his ONE Championship debut a successful one, defeating Jeremy Meciaz by first-round technical knockout. Chen now moves on to his next contest, a tough assignment against Saiful Merican.

Saiful “The Vampire” Merican of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is an explosive bantamweight striker who starts bouts fast, always looking to end matters early. He has had great success inside the ONE Championship cage with his fan-friendly and aggressive style. In his last bout, Merican stopped Burn Soriano, winning by TKO at the end of the first round. This time, Merican takes on the surging Chen Lei.

28-year-old Herbert “The Blaze” Burns of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is one of the most talented featherweights in ONE Championship. The grappling specialist has a penchant for locking in bout-ending submissions, and is a legitimate threat to any opponent on the mat. With his strong background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Burns is widely considered as one of the top contenders in the division. He squares off against Russian combatant Magomed Idrisov next.

Professional martial arts athlete Magomed Idrisov is a newcomer in ONE Championship, competing previously for local Russian promotion M-1 Global. He owns a 7-1 record comprising of four wins by decision and three by knockout. Since dropping his first bout as a professional, Idrisov has gone on to win six straight contests, which includes capturing the M-1 Global featherweight title. He will now look to take his talents to the global stage of Asian martial arts. Idrisov will take on tough grappler Herbert Burns in his promotional debut.

Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige is a 28-year-old female atomweight from Bangkok, Thailand. She is of mixed Japanese and Thai heritage, beginning her martial arts training at age nine with aikido and taekwondo. Heavily influenced by her late father who trained in judo, Ishige went on to hone her skills as a martial artist, and turned pro earlier this year. In her last bout, Ishige defeated Nita Dea, impressing fans with her solid grappling skills. She is currently on a two-bout winning streak in ONE Championship. Next up, Ishige takes on the Philippines’ Jomary Torres.

Jomary Torres is a female atomweight contender from the Philippines with a 1-0 professional martial arts record. In her last bout, Torres dominated opponent Krisna Lindaga to win by unanimous decision after three rounds. Torres is set to make her ONE Championship debut against Thai competitor Rika Ishige.

Leandro Ataides of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a 30-year-old martial arts veteran who owns a professional record of nine wins and three losses, with only two of Ataides’ victories reaching the final bell. In his last bout, Ataides scored a much-needed win, stopping Mohamed Ali with a highlight-reel flying knee that was named ONE’s Knockout of the Year 2016. Despite mixed results so far in his career, the hard-charging Ataides remains a force to be reckoned with at middleweight and will look to excite the crowd by defeating his next opponent, Michal Pasternak.

Middleweight contender Michal Pasternak of Pinczow, Poland, is a tall and lanky martial artist with a 12-2 professional record. A well-rounded competitor, more than half of Pasternak’s victories have come either by knockout or by submission. In May of 2016, Pasternak challenged Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Roger Gracie for the inaugural ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship, falling short of victory. Now, Pasternak takes on Leandro Ataides.

Malaysian warrior Marc Marcellinus makes his return to the ONE Championship cage and to professional competition after taking a short break. He is a solid competitor with solid all-around skills and a knack for striking. Marcellinus is set to go shot for shot with Vietnam’s Tran Quang Loc, who is making his professional debut.

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Fight Announcements

Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum Official for UFC 224

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Brazils second UFC event of the new year added another middleweight contest. UFC officials announced, Kelvin Gastelum will face Jacare Souza in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 224.

The inevitable main card booking of Souza comes after headlining UFC on Fox 27. The Brazilian fighter is 3-2 in his last 5. His recent contests only look worrisome in comparison to the entirety of his long career. Prior to his past 5, Souza held an eight fight win streak. In that period of time, he defeated Gegard Mousasi, Derek Brunson (for the first time), and Chris Camozzi twice. Despite the drama words and numbers on screens create, his recent record is nothing to have concern over. A split decision loss to Yoel Romero in 2015, and a 2017 TKO loss to division champion, Robert Whittaker is manageable. Defeating Derek Brunson in the opening round of their main event bout kept him deep in the milky opaque froth that is the middleweight title picture. Clearly his position in that photo lies upon the upcoming match up.

Looking ahead for Jacare Souza, assuming he wins, becomes interesting, just as it devastating for Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum is 3-1 since returning to middleweight, technically his record sits at 2-1 and 1 No Contest. He tested positive for marijuana in a sample collected the night of his bout against Vitor Belfort by USADA in March of 2017. Originally, the outcome of the bout read the way viewers remembered it; a 1st rd. TKO in favor of Gastelum. On May 7th, 2017, the win was officially overturned and changed to a No Contest. He also received a 90 day suspension, adjusted to the day of the failed test (March 11th).

In the aftermath of the failed test, his scheduled contest against Anderson Silva. He then split his next two contests, losing to Chris Weidman and defeating Michael Bisping emphatically, yet under odd circumstances. A win for Gastelum certainly muddies the waters of middleweight contenders, while adding to a good 185 lb. resume.

UFC 224 takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12th, 2018 at the Jeunesse Arena. A battle betwen Brazilians is set for the date as Lyoto Machida takes on Vitor Belfort. Other featured bouts include; Aleksei Oleynik vs. Junior Albini*, Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson*, Alberto Mina vs. Ramazan Emeev, and Davi Ramos vs. Nick Hein*.

*Bouts reportedly set for UFC 224

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Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”

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In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the metro.uk, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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Announcement

UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

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UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by MMAFighting.com and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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