This upcoming Friday, ONE Championship will have its third show of the year in Singapore with 11 bouts, including 2 title fights – Shinya Aoki will defend his lightweight belt against Koji Ando and the scrap between undefeated Thai Dedjadamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke and Roy Doliguez for the vacant strawweight belt.
Here are part 1 of the fight breakdown:
Ali Yaakub (0-1) vs Jianbing Yang (3-0)
Yaakub, a decorated Muay Thai practitioner in his home country Malaysia, have shown to be able to stand toe to toe against the now-title contender Amnuaysirichoke in his last outing. Unfortunately, it also showed his lack of ground game, and he’s paired up against Yang who got 2 out of his 3 wins via submission, all of which was obtained after a series of grappling exchanges.
On the flipside, nothing much can be said on Yang’s standup, which thus far only intended to set up clinches and has not been effective even against opponents with a combined record of 1-8 to this day. Yang is likely to face the best striker in his fighting career in this match, and given the little progress that Yang made between his fights, this fight may look to be more competitive than what it seemed to be.
However, Yang’s durability may hold the key in this fight. While Yaakub may defend Yang’s takedown attempts early in the game and landing shots, Yang has so far proven to be resilient in weathering shots to close the distance and get the takedown. I see Yaakub defending the takedowns early in the fight with Yang maintaining the pressure and ultimately getting the fight to the ground to finish it.
Prediction: Yang by R2 Sub
Angela Lee (0-0) vs Aya Saied Saber (3-5)
Saber has shown her ability in a competitive fight against Ana Julaton, where she managed to stand toe-to-toe against the boxing champion and outwrestle the Filipino fighter until the third round where she made a mistake and ended on the bottom of mount, Julaton pounding away. However, she seemed powerless against a more skilled grappler in Ann Osman, where she was quickly taken down and submitted within the opening round.
Lee may only have 3 wins on the amateur scene, but have finished all her opponents within the first round. She was not afraid to stand and bang, and rightfully so given the competition she was in, but it is when the fight went to the ground is where the BJJ purple belt finishes her opponents.
While Saber may have more experience on paper and likely to have the size advantage (Lee fought her last fight at 115lbs), Lee’s standup should be sufficient for her to close the distance and end the fight on the ground – where Saber is at greater disadvantage.
Prediction: Angela Lee by R1 Sub
Benedict Ang (0-0) vs Waqar Umar (3-2)
Ang will be the first out of 2 amateurs making their debuts in the night’s card. The undefeated 19-year old have been dominant in his past outings, winning all three matches with his ground game. His standup game has so far adequate to implement his game plan against the level of competition he had faced, but untested against higher level of competition.
His opponent, Waqar Umar, is on a 2 fight losing streak on ONE, but it is worth noting that both came with asterisks. The first time around, he was faced with a visa issue that only allowed him to weigh in in the morning before the fight, while his second loss was marred with a low blow and an elbow to the back of Umar’s head that should’ve ended the fight with a DQ.
So far, Umar have shown that he is capable to stand and trade with the bigger striker in Davis, but he has proven to be more comfortable on the ground and attacking with submissions. His takedown defense, however, remain questionable, and at times he seemed to be getting too comfortable fighting off his back, both of which key points to fight against a grappler with strong top game like Ang.
Prediction: Ang wins by UD
Amir Khan (3-1) vs Shannon Wiratchai (3-1)
Originally slated for Manila show, Amir Khan finally faced Shannon Wiratchai in Singapore.
Khan showed dangerous he is on the clinch, particularly on his last fight against Bashir Ahmad, where Khan controlled the fight with his clinch, pick apart the Pakistani with his knees, and take him down at will. Striking-wise, Khan showed an powerful and accurate standup in his ONE debut, where he picked apart Jian Kai Chee with his boxing en route to an opening round KO.
The level of striking shown by Wiratchai, however, is a notch above Khan, particularly when he took apart Mitch Chilson on both of their fights. On the clinch and on the ground, Wiratchai will be at a disadvantage against Khan. Wiratchai have shown the shortcomings on these positions on his past fights, particularly on his loss against Bashir Ahmad 2 years ago.
Expect to see Wiratchai’s advantage on striking getting neutralised, as Khan grind his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Khan by UD
Stephen Langdown (2-1) vs Heili Alateng (3-4)
Langdown may only have less than 8 minutes of effective cage time, but in that short period of time has shown a great deal of power, accuracy, and aggression in his wins. His defense, however, is a suspect. He got caught with clean shots and knocked down in his last 2 fights, and his weakness on the ground was apparent against a stronger grappler like Suire, where Langdown was unable to recover after the fight went to the ground.
Alateng may have more experience on paper, but his MMA game seem a bit raw. His game so far revolved around swinging for the fences or shooting for takedowns with little set up. Even when he gets the takedown, his top control is not as strong as what is expected from a wrestler.
Expect to see Langdown, to keep the fight standing and picking apart Alateng from the outside and ultimately finish him in later rounds
Prediction: Langdown by R2 KO
Eddie Ng (7-2) vs Ariel Sexton (9-3)
Sexton may have lost his ONE Championship debut against Kamal Shalorus, but he proved to be a stiff opposition against the Iranian; reversing, even taking the lightweight title contender down and threatening him from the back several times during the three round bout. A BJJ black belt, Sexton all but two of sexton’s 9 wins are achieved through submission, and he has shown to have a strong transitions and reversals from the bottom. Standing up, sexton may not be too technical standing up, nor a sufficient KO power for this level of competition, but Sexton made it up with his intensity, and this is enough to bring the fight to the ground where he is more dangerous.
Ng may just had his first loss in ONE a year ago against Vincent Latoel when Latoel knocked him down and referee Yuji Shimada prematurely stop the contest. In his past outings, Ng have always been touted as a skilled grappler, and rightfully so, but he is equally dangerous standing up, having scored quick KO finishes in early years of ONE against 2 standup artists.
Sexton is definitely in a class above all Ng’s previous opponents, and this will be the first time Ng fought against a more decorated grappler under MMA ruleset, which may affect his confidence in going to the ground. Standing up, Ng have may have shown more power on his strikes than the Costa Rican, but Sexton have more variety on his striking repertoire and this may turn the tide in the likely event that the fight goes to the distance.
Prediction: Sexton by UD
UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”
MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.
Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.
The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.
Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.
It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.
Oh by the way did you forget this?…. I’m not cody, i don’t show videos then get knock out. pic.twitter.com/EsyvJmGnkz
— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) November 26, 2017
I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.
After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.
It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.
Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”
Mark Hunt Returns to Fight Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221
UFC 221 in Perth has officially added a another Australian to the main card. Joining Robert Whittaker is the knockout legend Mark Hunt.
The Daily Telegraph first reported that Hunt will be stepping into the octagon to face #9 Curtis Blaydes. Some weren’t sure if we would ever see Hunt fight again after he was pulled from the main event in UFC Fight Night 21 against Marcin Tybura. The UFC removed him due to “medical concerns” while Hunt was stating he was perfectly fine.
After getting evaluated and cleared to fight by Australian and American doctors, it looks like his time has come to return. Hunt’s last fight was back in June when he derailed the Derrick Lewis hype train with a 4th round TKO win.
Hunt had been adamant about calling out #3 ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum and trying to get that rematch booked, labelling Werdum a “chicken shit” and a “coward.”
Curtis “Razor” Blaydes who has an 8-1 record, is coming off a TKO victory due to doctor stoppage at UFC 217 in November. Since losing to now title challenger Francis Ngannou in April of 2016, Blaydes has rattled off three straight wins over Alexey Oleynik, Daniel Omielanczuk, and Cody East.
With all this momentum from the win streak, Blaydes looks to capitalize and win the biggest fight of his career against Hunt.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira Officially Booked for Belem, Brazil card
The wait is over. Valentina Shevchenko (14-3, 3-2 UFC) will make her highly anticipated flyweight debut when the UFC returns to Brazil. She will face Priscila Cachoeira (8-0) on the February 3rd card scheduled for Belem, Brazil. Luciana Andrade was the first to report the match-up last week. On Tuesday, the UFC posted an article which stated the bout had been set.
Now that the flyweight tournament is over and the inaugural champion has her crown, many women shall migrate from the strawweight and bantamweight ranks in search of a more suitable weight class. The division is so infantile means a lot moving parts in the rankings. Yet, only women who fought at one hundred and twenty-five lbs. are ranked. Such practices muddy the title picture for the time being. Essentially ruling out the idea of Montano vs. Shevchenko for the first defense of the belt, illogical. An idea that floated around the internet until today’s confirmation of the newest female flyweight match-up. The TUF 26 winner, Nicco Montano called it, “kinda silly”, earlier this week while on The MMA Hour. Montano believes her first title defense, as it stands, should pit her against the original finalist of the flyweight tournament, Sijara Eubanks. Although Eubanks withdrew from the title fight, she is still ranked as the #1 contender in the division.
Shevchenko explained her desire for the flyweight belt on The MMA Hour, a week earlier than Montano, “For me it’s number one, to fight for the title… It doesn’t matter for me, if I have to have one fight before it, okay I will do it… my main goal is to be the champion… It doesn’t matter I move from one thirty-five to one twenty-five. My goal is still the same, to be the champion”. The Russian fighter is coming off an unsuccessful title shot in the bantamweight division against the current reigning champ, Amanda Nunes. The bout went to a decision after close five rounds, Nunes ultimately defeated Shevchenko via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47).
Her opponent, Priscila Cachoeira, is not only new to the UFCs female flyweight division but the promotion’s roster as well. Cachoeira originally was scheduled to make her promotional debut against veteran Lauren Murphy at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 26. The Brazilian fighter withdrew from the bout due to visa issues. As a professional, she is undefeated with four knockouts in her eight fights.
UFC Belem is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018. The card will feature Timothy Johnson vs. Marcelo Golm in the heavyweight division. It will also have Thiago Santos taking on Anthony Smith in the middleweight division.
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