On Dec. 19, ONE FC held its 24th event, which took place in Beijing, China. The event marked the first time that the organization put on an event in mainland China.
The card was headlined by a bantamweight bout between Ji Xian and Song Yadong. In the co-main event, Australia’s Adrian Pang made his ONE FC debut and return to action after an 18-month layoff and met veteran Vincent Latoel.
It’s always fun to play the part of the matchmaker, so let’s take a look at some of the fights that should take place in the new year.
Ariel Sexton vs. Roger Huerta
After falling short in his ONE FC debut, Ariel Sexton bounced back in a big way with an impressive first-round submission victory over AKA Thailand’s Anvar Alizhanov. For his next outing, a match-up with UFC veteran Roger Huerta makes the most sense.
Both fighters are looking to establish themselves as serious contenders in the stacked lightweight division. Huerta most recently defeated Christian Holley in an impressive return to form after going on a four-fight skid.
Adrian Pang vs. Koji Ando
Adrian Pang made a triumphant return to professional competition following an 18-month layoff. The 37-year-old Australian submitted Vincent Latoel in the third round of their bout after rocking the Dutch veteran several times in the first round of an entertaining affair. Pang did show some signs of fatigue in the later stages of the fight, though. Whether that was due to his layoff or his weight cut is yet to be seen.
Koji Ando makes sense as the next opponent for Pang. Both men are former Legend FC lightweight champions. With another win inside the ONE FC cage, one of these men could quickly establish himself as the next contender for Shinya Aoki’s lightweight belt.
Ando has impressed since making his debut earlier this year. He has notched highlight-reel stoppages over Rafael Nunes and Zorobabel Moreira.
Ji Xian vs. Mark Striegl
Ji Xian and Song Yadong fought to a decision which was quickly hailed as the “Fight of the Night.” Xian showed no signs of slowing down throughout the fight, while pushing the pace constantly as the two exchanged haymakers for the vast majority of the bout.
The victory over the previously undefeated Yadong extended Xian’s winning streak to three and was the first time that the 27-year-old had seen the scorecards in his career.
Xian is a former Legend FC bantamweight champion, so it would make sense to see him step in line for a shot against ONE FC’s bantamweight kingpin Bibiano Fernandes. However, another fight is probably in order before a title shot becomes a reality.
For his next challenge, then, Xian should be the one to welcome highly touted prospect Mark Striegl to the ONE FC cage. Striegl has recently joined the team at Evolve MMA in Singapore and has previously competed for PXC, URCC and Legend FC. Striegl has a lone loss on his record. Prior to the loss, he was riding an impressive 12-fight winning streak.
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