ONE Fighting Championship will host its ninth event, “Rise to Power”, in the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on 31 May. The star-power on the card defines the term “stacked”.
Philippine fight fans could be considered the luckiest in the world when it comes to ONE FC events, because this Saturday, they will see no fewer than five of their home-grown heroes face international competition that comes in the form of household names.
Matchmaker Matt Hume has outdone himself in the chess games he has laid out for the evening’s festivities. Rise to Power takes place at the Mall Of Asia Arena and according to the ONE FC website, the first three tiers of tickets are sold out, with limited availability in the last two. Fans who can’t watch live and in person can still catch a live stream via Livesport. MMA-in-ASIA will be live to catch all the action.
Honorio Banario will face his first featherweight championship title defence on very short order after systematically dismantling Eric Kelly at the inauguration of the title in February this year through 4 rounds to a TKO. Gunning for his belt will be one of the true legends of the sport, Koji Oishi, whose first pro appearance was in UFC 25 in Japan.
Banario is a calculating headhunter and the same could be said of the fleet-footed Oishi. Banario has the weight of a country on his shoulders as his defends his rightful position at the top. Oishi’s only loss in four years was the bitter sting of his own title defence. This will be an emotional and exciting fight that should showcase the best of MMA.
In lieu of an injury, Kim SooChul‘s Bantamweight belt will be contested in the interim by top-ranked DREAM Bantamweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes and former Shooto Featherweight Champion Koetsu Okazaki. Fernandes jiu jitsu is of another planet, but Okazaki has experience KOing grapplers. Rather than being a simple striker-versus-grappler match, Fernandes will bring the trademark AMC gameplan into the cage, and it will be a test on the world stage to see if the Japanese up-and-comer Okazaki and his camp can devise one of their own.
Another hot bantamweight battle is the Finals of the Grand Prix, which sees former Shooto Featherweight Champion Masakatsu Ueda face URCC Bantamweight Champion Kevin Belingon. Ueda beats guys down and sticks to them like glue until he chokes them out or the bell rings – thankfully the latter for a few of his past opponents. Belingon can take punishment like nobody’s business while delivering devastation of his own. This match is going to bring the pain, and keep the entire MOA audience on the edge of their collective seat.
Slippery sly Yasuhiro Urushitani (say that 5 times really fast), a former Shooto Flyweight champ, will stand across the cage from URCC Pinweight champ Rey Docyogen. Urushitani’s a decisioner – if he doesn’t dart in and get the KO, he plays on the outside, frustrating his opponents. Docyogen won’t go for that game – he is a finisher. If it’s a cat-and-mouse game, the Filipino fans are going to be vocally behind their man, and seeing the Japanese forced to engage would be a delight.
Phil Baroni, now an icon of the MMA scene in the Philippines, takes on a fellow heavy-hander in Nobutatsu Suzuki. Leading up to the fight have been some harsh words from both – expect them to stand and bang. Everyone watching this match will be standing as well.
The same goes for Eduard Folayang and Kamal Shalorus. Both are tough as nails and had recent losses, so this chance to set themselves back in the rankings makes for a hungry beast of a fight. A more technical match will be seen when grappling sensation Andrew Leone mixes it up with up-and-comer Geje Eustaquio. Leone’s willingness to engage in a ground war and Eustaquio’s ability to deal with it should prove very interesting to see.
Ryan Diaz gets set to step in the cage to face Yusup Saadulaev. Diaz is looking to make a comeback in his career and Saadulaev has to prove he’s the contender everyone thought of him just one year ago. This will not be a slow match. Rising superstar Lowen Tynanes takes on Felipe Enomoto and given the excitement both have brought to previous matches, this should be a remarkable battle. The bottom of the card starts the whole event off with a bang as heavies Tim Silvia and Tony Johnson duke it out.
ONE FC 9 Rise to Power
31 May 31, 2013
Featherweight Championship Defence
Honorio Banario (Lakay MMA) (8-1) vs Koji Oishi (Pancraseism) (23 -9-10)
Interim Bantamweight Championship
Bibiano Fernandes (AMC Pankration) (13-3) vs Koetsu Okazaki (Nakanoshima MMA Academy) (8-2-1)
Bantamweight Grand Prix Final
Masakatsu Ueda (Paraestra Tokyo) (17-2-2) vs Kevin Belingon (Lakay MMA) (11-2)
Yasuhiro Urushitani (Tribe MMA) (19-6-6) vs Rey Docyogen (Lakay MMA) (10-1)
Phil Baroni (AKA) (15-16) vs Nobutatsu Suzuki (Bushinjuku) (9-1-2)
Eduard Folayang (Lakay MMA) (12-3) vs Kamal Shalorus (American Combat Association) (7-3-2)
Andrew Leone (Phuket Top Team) (5-2) vs Geje Eustaquio (Lakay MMA) (4-1)
Ryan Diaz (Tiger Muay Thai) (13-13) vs Yusup Saadulaev (Top Team Fight Club) (9-3)
Lowen Tynanes (808 Fight Factory/Powerhouse MMA) (4-0) vs Felipe Enomoto (Enomoto Dojo) (6-5)
Tim Sylvia (Team Extreme/Champions Gym) (31-8) vs Tony Johnson (AKA/SUCO) (6-1)