In Asian cultures, tigers are often viewed as mythical creatures. They are the king of the beasts, fierce and powerful. In that way, they are symbolic of what a mixed martial artist strives for inside the cage. When ONE FC heads to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Oct. 17 for its 21st event, dubbed “Roar of Tigers,” there will be 16 men and two women seeking to let out a roar of their own, one that lets MMA fans know that they are just as fierce and powerful as those beasts from the jungle.
Two of those athletes will look to stake a claim to a title shot in the ONE FC featherweight division. Marat Gafurov already knows what it’s like to wear a shiny gold belt, but now the M-1 Global champion is making the trek outside of Russia to seek another championship. Australian fighter Rob Lisita, who turned heads with a recent streak of wins before suffering a loss in his most recent outing, stands in Garufov’s way.
The co-headliner features Peter Davis and Vaughn Donayre, a pair of lightweights hungry to make an impression and climb the divisional ladder. Further down the card, featherweights Ev Ting and Edward Kelly clash and women’s flyweight competitor Ann Osman looks to build on the success of her recent win over Ana Julaton. Five more contests round out the nine-fight card.
The evening’s action takes place at Stadium Putra and will be available for viewing in Malaysia via TV9 and in Asia via FOX 2. American fight fans can watch the entire event via a live pay-per-view stream on the promotion’s website.
Without a title fight on the agenda, a superfight between featherweight contenders Marat Gafurov and Rob Lisita tops the bill. The victor will move one step closer to a potential shot at reigning ONE FC featherweight kingpin Jadamba Narantungalag.
Gafurov is the latest addition to the ONE FC featherweight contender pool. Signed earlier this year, the 29-year-old Dagestani fighter will make his promotional debut against Lisita. Gafurov is the M-1 Global featherweight champion, and he’s coming off a successful defense of his crown in April against Lee Morrison. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt has spent most of his career in the M-1 Global promotion. Since making his pro debut in 2010, he has rattled off six stoppage wins, including five via submission, and claimed three victories by way of the scorecards. Among his career highlights, the Legion Fight Team product has notched a split decision victory over UFC fighter Mairbek Taisumov and scored a TKO finish of Yuri Ivlev.
Lisita put his name on the map in late 2013 with wins over Rodolfo Marques Diniz and former Shooto champion Takeshi “Lion” Inoue. He already had 16 fights on his record prior to locking horns with Diniz, but the 31-year-old has always struggled to find consistency. Since his 2008 pro debut, Lisita has put together several winning streaks that have been cut short just as he has started to gain momentum. In a 20-fight career, the Phuket Top Team product has never won more than four fights in a row. After defeating Diniz and Inoue, the Australian tacked on a 28-second knockout of Yusuke Kawanago. Then, with a four-fight streak in place, Lisita succumbed to a submission from Eric Kelly. The former rugby player has only lost back-to-back fights once in his career.
Gafurov has an impressive record, but he’s heading outside of Russia for the first time in his career to fight a ONE FC mainstay. Lisita is dangerous, and he has welcomed a high level of competition in his recent outings. With seven submission wins and four victories by some form of knockout, Lisita has a well-rounded skill set, especially for a fighter who started training in MMA later in life. This will be a difficult fight for both men.
It’s difficult to ignore Gafurov’s win over Taisumov. Unlike Lisita, who handed losses to fighters who were in the midst of 2-3-1, 0-5 and 3-3-2 stretches, Gafurov topped a fighter who was coming off a 12-1 run over his prior 13 fights and would go on to win his next three and punch his ticket to the UFC, where he is now 2-1. It was a hard-fought split decision, but Gafurov edged a top prospect who has a balanced record of 10 finishes each by submission and strikes.
The three times Lisita has been finished, it has happened on the mat. That happens to be where Gafurov does his best work. The M-1 champ is a talented wrestler who should be able to use his strength to drag Lisita to the mat. Lisita is a good offensive grappler, but he’s not quite as solid in submission defense. Gafurov will take advantage of the holes in Lisita’s game to hand the Australian another submission defeat.
The night’s co-headlining affair pits actor, model and former financial consultant Peter Davis against fellow lightweight Vaughn Donayre.
Davis may have the looks to land him modeling and acting gigs, but he’s also a tough competitor inside the cage. The 33-year-old made his pro debut in 2004, but he fought just three times before getting serious about the sport in late 2011. Davis put up a 6-1 mark through his first seven fights, but then hit a skid in which he lost back-to-back fights to Ariel Sexton and Eddie Ng. The Muayfit product has rebounded with two wins under the ONE FC banner, bringing his promotional record to 5-1. Davis has three submission victories and four wins via some form of knockout.
Donayre made his pro debut in 2011. By early 2014, “The Spawn” was an undefeated prospect through seven fights. He met Gokhan Turkyilmaz in May and suffered his first career setback, a unanimous decision loss. His next outing went even worse: 65 seconds and a submission loss to Mohammed Walid. The Filipino fighter is in the same spot Davis was in just two fights ago as he seeks to right the ship and find victory following back-to-back defeats. Donayre has a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a resume that includes three submission finishes, a knockout win and a TKO victory. The 35-year-old is based out of Dubai.
Davis may be just two fights removed from a losing streak, but this is a fighter who has found much success under the ONE FC banner, excluding his loss to Ng. Meanwhile, Donayre, who was once considered a top lightweight in the URCC, has struggled over his last four fights. He eked out a split decision over Rex de Lara, a fighter who entered their bout with a 2-2 record and who now stands at 2-4 in his career. Then, Donayre went the distance with the debuting Mohamed Isaef, who has not fought since. His next two fights were the losses to Turkyilmaz and Walid.
Donayre has the type of record that typically accompanies a fighter capable of defeating Davis, but it’s not so simple in this fight. Walid was able to take Donayre down easily, transition to mount and snag an armbar. Davis has an effective takedown game of his own, and he’s no stranger to the submission finish. Given Donayre’s recent troubles and Davis’s overall success in the ONE FC, this should be a one-sided affair in favor of Davis. The actor and model will add to his fighting portfolio with a second-round submission finish of Donayre.
Marat Gafurov and Rob Lisita have snagged center stage at this event, but they aren’t the only featherweights looking to make waves when ONE FC touches down in Kuala Lumpur. Before the headliners clash, 145-pounders Edward Kelly and Ev Ting will seek to make their own impression with the ONE FC brass.
Kelly hasn’t fought since suffering the first setback of his pro career in December 2013 against Herbert Burns. Kelly’s first four victories, all stoppages, came against a set of opponents who now hold a combined 0-8 record. He went the distance in his victory over Tanaphong Khunhankaew, a fighter who now holds a 5-3 mark, and then lost to the undefeated Burns. The Filipino fighter, who turned pro in 2007, didn’t see his second and third bouts until 2009. Marriage took him away from the sport for four years before he returned in 2013 for three fights. He has two wins by doctor’s stoppage TKO and one via submission. Edward is the brother of former Team Lakay fighter Eric Kelly.
Ting has been fighting professionally since 2011. He won his first three fights, including a 2012 bout against Will Chope. Following a submission loss to Mark Striegl, Ting bounced back with another three victories. He dropped a split decision to Yeong Gwang Choi to snap that winning streak, but rebounded with an impressive showing versus Yohan Mulia Legowo in his ONE FC debut. The 25-year-old trains out of Auckland MMA.
Burns needed just 44 seconds to wrap up Kelly in a rear-naked choke. Burns slipped while throwing a kick, but he used it to score a takedown and quickly transition to Kelly’s back. Luckily for Kelly, Ting is not the high-level grappler that Burns is, but that doesn’t mean Kelly has an easy fight ahead of him. Ting has been fighting quality competition and tends to win much more often than he loses. Kelly, meanwhile, has a record padded by wins over two debuting fighters and a pair of wins against a guy who is now 0-5.
Ting is the more proven fighter. Whether he can use his striking skills to get the knockout is a big question, but he should be able to gain the upper hand against Kelly en route to a decision victory.
ONE FC hasn’t given a lot of attention to its women’s divisions, but the promotion is trying to build some homegrown female talent. Ann Osman stands as one of the company’s best prospects in this regard. “Athena” made her debut in the promotion in 2013 and scored her first pro victory under the ONE FC banner in 2014. Now, Osman is set to take to the ONE FC cage once again. Her opponent is Egyptian fighter Aya Saeid Saber.
Osman has a background in Muay Thai. She had the misfortune of meeting Sherilyn Lim in her ONE FC debut. Osman put up a valiant effort, but ultimately dropped a split decision. She returned in late August 2014 and went the distance against Ana Julaton. The outcome was again a split decision, but this time Osman emerged on the winning end of the verdict.
Saber made her pro debut in 2012 and scored a unanimous decision victory over Fatma Mansour under the Egyptian FC banner. She moved on to the Super Fight League, but that’s where her career took a turn for the worse. She dropped her SFL debut with a first-round TKO loss to Colleen Schneider. Her next two contests also ended in defeat. The Egyptian kickboxing champion rebounded with a first-round submission win over Aya Rashdan, but faced another setback in her most recent outing, her ONE FC debut against the aforementioned Julaton. Julaton scored a third-round TKO finish of Saber.
With Saber’s 2-4 mark, it’s difficult not to see this fight as a potential showcase for Osman, who sits at the .500 mark and can boast a winning record if she tops Saber. Osman has kept all of her fights close, but she hasn’t demonstrated any finishing abilities. Saber has suffered a couple of TKO defeats and a submission loss, but she might be able to survive Osman’s assault and see the final bell. However, surviving and winning are very different things. Osman won’t have to squeak by in this one. She won’t necessarily finish Saber, but she will convince all of the judges of her superiority in this contest.
|FW: Tanaphong Khunhankaew (5-3) vs. Bashir Ahmad (2-1)||Khunhankaew by third-round submission|
|FlyW: Saiful Merican (3-1) vs. Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (2-0)||Amnuaysirichoke by second-round submission|
|BW: Stephen Langdown (1-1) vs. Raymond Tan (2-2)||Langdown by second-round TKO|
|BW: Anatpong Bunrad (3-1) vs. Marc Marcellinus (0-1)||Bunrad by first-round TKO|
|WW: Mohammad Sotounzadeh (1-0) vs. Hesham Hiba (1-2)||Sotounzadeh by first-round TKO|