ONE Championship returns to Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 27 for ONE Championship: Odyssey of Champions. The stacked 11-fight card features ONE featherweight champion Jadamba Narantungalag putting his belt on the line against No. 1 contender Marat Gafurov.
The Mongolian champion defeated Koji Oishi in August 2014 to win the belt. The undefeated challenger earned his title shot by submitting featherweight prospects Rob Lisita and Ev Ting in his first year inside the circular cage.
The co-main event features a possible featherweight title eliminator between Evolve MMA grappler Herbert Burns and Tiger Muay Thai striker Timofey Nastyukhin. Both men enter the potentially exciting bout undefeated in the past two years.
Prospects litter the main- and preliminary-card action. Former ONE title challenger Leandro Ataides faces undefeated Russian prospect Alexey Butorin. UFC veteran Roger Huerta returns against former ONE title challenger Koji Ando. Frenchman Arnaud Lepont takes on the striker Vincent Latoel of the Netherlands. A battle of prospects rounds out the main card as Tajikistani fighter Muin Gafurov fights American Casey Suire.
FW Championship: Jadamba Narantungalag (10-3) vs. Marat Gafurov (11-0)
Jadamba Narantungalag is a 39-year-old Mongolian who began his career in martial arts at a young age. He started training in judo when he was a child and moved on to Kyokushin karate as a teenager. The veteran of over 10 years of mixed martial arts competition moved to Japan to begin his career. Narantungalag made his professional MMA debut against Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto at a K-1 MAX event in 2004. He just missed Yamamoto with a right high kick that the Japanese superstar countered. Narantungalag lost when Yamamoto’s right hand put an end to his night in devastating fashion. He spent the next few years going toe-to-toe with kickboxing greats Buakaw, Masato and Albert Kraus, taking the far more experienced fighters to the final bell, before returning to fight in MMA in China and Mongolia in 2009. Narantungalag started winning after the move back to MMA. He defeated UFC veterans Akihiro Gono and Yui Chul Nam before an April 2013 loss, due to injury, at the hands of ONE veteran Koji Ando. The loss was Narantungalag’s last fight before debuting at ONE: Honor and Glory against Honorio Banario in May 2014. Narantungalag defeated Banario by decision, earning the shot at Koji Oishi’s featherweight title. Narantungalag controlled Oishi with his wrestling and volume power punching on his way to a five-round unanimous decision victory.
Marat Gafurov is a 30-year-old Russian fighter training out of DagFighter in Makhachkala. He began his career in 2010, kick-starting an 11-fight winning streak that remains intact today. Gafurov has shown promise since the very beginning, defeating current UFC fighter Mairbek Taisumov at M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rizzo in only his fifth professional bout. He continued moving up the M-1 Global lightweight rankings before transitioning to featherweight to fight Vugar Bakhshiev for the vacant M-1 featherweight title at M-1 Challenge 35: Emelianenko vs. Monson in November 2012. Gafurov defended his title twice before moving to ONE Championship in 2014. He met ONE veteran Rob Lisita in the main event at ONE 21: Roar of Tigers. Gafurov landed a high kick seconds into the fight that sent the Australian veteran crashing to the mat. Gafurov quickly capitalized on his downed opponent, taking Lisita’s back and sinking in the rear-naked choke. He most recently defeated Kiwi prospect Ev Ting at ONE 27: Warrior’s Quest in May. Gafurov took the fight to the mat early in the first round, sinking in the palm-to-palm rear-naked choke submission.
This fight is exactly what a ONE Championship main event should look like. Both fighters have excellent grappling and powerful striking while standing. Narantungalag will have a slight advantage in both power and variety of striking techniques. While Gafurov is not known for his power on the feet, he certainly has stopping power in his hands on the ground. Gafurov has an advantage if the fight were to hit the mat and in the wrestling exchanges. Both men’s greatest attributes very well may be their toughness — neither man will back down. The featherweight title is on the line in this too-close-to-call main event. Gafurov will fight his way to a decision victory in a competitive back-and-forth affair.
FW: Herbert Burns (5-0) vs. Timofey Nastyukhin (9-1)
Timofey Nastyukhin is a 25-year-old Russian prospect fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand. Since entering the circular cage against Eduard Folayang at ONE Championship 23: Warrior’s Way in December 2014, he has proven to be a special prospect. Nastyukhin took the fight to the veteran, landing a strong left hook and straight right hand early in the round. He threw a flying switch knee that struck the chin of Folayang, dropping him to the mat to only be met with two soccer kicks that turned the lights out on the Filipino fighter just three minutes into the first round. The finish came as a shock to everyone inside the arena. The Russian dropped to lightweight in his next bout, a fight scheduled against Phuket Top Team’s Robert Lisita at ONE Championship 27: Warrior’s Quest before the doctor deemed the Australian fighter was unfit to fight on weigh-in day. The Russian fighter wouldn’t have to wait long for his next and most recent bout,a fight against Yusuke Kawanago at ONE Championship 28: Dynasty of Champions in Guangzhou, China, in June 2015. Nastyukhin didn’t waste any time in the contest, pressing in and landing a left hook at the end of a combination that put Kawanago down. Nastyukhin rushed in with soccer kicks and punches for the first-round knockout finish just 92 seconds into the opening round. He has never been past the first round in his 10-fight career, finishing all nine of his wins with a pretty even split of five knockouts and four submissions.
Herbert “The Blaze” Burns is an undefeated 27-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt living in Singapore. The multiple-time Brazilian National No-Gi champion began training in martial arts at the age of 10 with his older brothers Frederick and UFC fighter Gilbert “Durinho.” Burns is currently teaching at the Evolve MMA University in Singapore alongside ONE veterans Ben Askren and Shinya Aoki. He made the transition to MMA in 2012, earning a victory in his professional debut in Brazil. Burns made his ONE Championship debut at ONE 13: Moment of Truth against undefeated Filipino fighter Edward Kelly. It took just 44 seconds for Burns to choke his opponent into submission. Burns kept on winning, defeating Harris Sarmiento and Hiroshige Tanaka by decision while making his way up the featherweight ranks. Burns most recently fought Filipino striker Honorio Banario at ONE 23: Warrior’s Way in August 2014. He almost immediately took the back of the Team Lakay fighter, working his way to the finish by switching his hand positioning back and forth. Banario was forced to tap just before the four-minute mark of the opening round.
Nastyukhin and Burns have all the makings of a future champion. Nastyukhin has the attributes — speed, power and a natural ability to fight — that a coach would want in a star pupil. The Russian fighter is comfortable in every aspect of MMA, but holds a true penchant for finishing fights. The orthodox striker keeps his hands high with his left arm in place like a shield, defending all incoming traffic while maintaining his counter left hook and left cross. Nastyukhin will throw kicks to the legs and body of his opponents, but he prefers to land his ferocious hand combinations. He has good wrestling, often choosing to defend the wrestling exchanges to stay on his feet. He will work from the top if given the opportunity, but has a good overall grappling game.
Burns is an aggressive submission grappler with ever-improving striking technique. He will be happy to meet the Russian on the mat, but the Brazilian must be crafty with his takedown selection, as Nastyukhin has the ability to keep the fight on the feet. Burns needs to get the fight to the floor and keep it there.
Burns won’t be able to handle the step up in competition, most likely eating a heavy left hook or explosive right hand on his way to his first career defeat.
MW: Leandro Ataides (8-1) vs. Alexey Butorin (9-0)
Leandro Ataides is a 29-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who has trained with Nova Uniao in the past. He currently trains at the Evolve MMA gym in Singapore alongside fellow main-card fighter Herbert Burns. Ataides earned wins in numerous regional and national BJJ tournaments before making his professional MMA debut in 2008. Ataides entered ONE Championship in 2013 on the heels of a five-fight winning streak. He made quick work of Bryan Rafiq at ONE: Warrior Spirit, stopping his French opponent with a flurry of punches in the first round. The Brazilian put an end to Tatsuya Mizuno’s night just 47 seconds into their ONE 15: Rise of Heroes bout in May 2014. Ataides lost his most recent fight for the inaugural ONE Championship middleweight title at ONE 22: Battle of Lions in November 2014. Igor Svirid stopped the previously unbeaten Ataides just 17 seconds into the five-round title affair.
Alexey Butorin began his MMA career in 2009. The 29-year-old Russian, who is based out of St. Petersburg, fought his way through the M-1 Selection tournament by knocking out both of his opponents in the second round. The heavy-hitting Butorin continued his winning ways in 2013 under the Warrior’s Way promotional banner. He stopped all five of his opponents during his time with the organization, capping off his undefeated stretch with a 67-second submission of Vladimir Brik at Warrior’s Way Championship 5: Vendetta in December 2014. Butorin will make his ONE Championship debut at middleweight after previously fighting at heavyweight and light heavyweight.
Ataides is an athletic striker with an experienced ground game. He prefers to work from the top position. The Brazilian will aggressively advance position and look to finish the fight early. Butorin is a solid striker who has been known to hold his own on the mat, but he needs to stay off of his back if he hopes to win this fight. He has to use his jab and counter striking to hit the at times overly aggressive Brazilian while he is entering wrestling exchanges. It is hard to know what Ataides to expect after the quick knockout loss in his last fight. The Brazilian should be the favorite heading into the bout, but Butorin should not be counted out in any way. Ataides will return to form following a 10-month layoff, taking a hard-fought decision and ending his opponent’s undefeated record.
LW: Roger Huerta (22-7-1) vs. Koji Ando (11-4-2)
Tiger Muay Thai head MMA coach Roger Huerta makes his return to the circular cage after more than a year’s absence. His first-round ground-and-pound win over the previously unbeaten Christian Holley at ONE 19: Reign of Champions was Huerta’s first win in over four years. His last win before that 2010 victory came almost eight years ago in the form of a come-from-behind rear-naked choke submission finish of Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale in December 2007. It was the last win in a streak of 17 consecutive victories for Huerta, who had a 2005 loss to Melvin Guillard overturned. The recently awarded Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt, under fourth-degree black belt Fernando Maccachero, is a solid overall fighter. Huerta has a strong arsenal of offensive attacks that he uses in conjunction with his wrestling background to control and do damage to his opponents from the top. Huerta looks for the knockout over the submission, utilizing the full set of ONE Championship rules from knees to soccer kicks on a grounded opponent. Huerta likes to stand and work his boxing, switching stances regularly to land punches and kicks. He has been hurt, dominated or lost significant portions of fights since the beginning of his career, a problem he could never get past against top competition.
Koji Ando began his professional career in 2008. The 30-year-old Tokyo native, who trains out of Wajutsu Keishukai Tokyo, put together an impressive stretch of wins from June 2010 to his most recent bout in May. Ando defeated multiple promising fighters on his way to a Legend FC title shot against ONE Championship: Odyssey of Champions headliner Narantungalag. Ando defeated the Mongolian fighter to earn the Legend FC lightweight championship. He moved to ONE in 2014, debuting with the promotion in impressive fashion by submitting the previously unbeaten Rafael Nunes at ONE 18: War of Dragons. Ando stopped Evolve MMA’s Zorobabel Moreira with strikes in the waning moments of their co-main event at ONE 22: Battle of Lions. He poured on the offense with 1:51 remaining in the final round, throwing 75 punches and two soccer kicks in the 71 seconds from the start of his aggression to the finish of the fight. Ando most recently fell at the hands of ONE lightweight champion Shinya Aoki at ONE 27: Warrior’s Quest in May. Ando was out-grappled in the five-round affair.
Ando is a tough southpaw fighter with a comfort in the exchanges. He carries a tight guard and a cocked right hand awaiting his opponent’s overextension. Ando moves his head well and counters confidently in the pocket, usually with his left straight and heavy right hook. He is a well-conditioned fighter who is comfortable wherever the fight takes place.
Huerta can say the same. He has fought in every possible scenario throughout his 12-year MMA career. Although Huerta has an advantage in experience, he lacks the defense to stop Ando’s non-stop pressure for 15 minutes. Ando will push forward and grind out the tough veteran, possibly finishing Huerta late in the fight. This is a high-level fight with two well-rounded lightweights that ultimately showcases the worldwide depth of the 155-pound division.
Preliminary Card Predictions
Catchweight (150 pounds): Arnaud Lepont (11-4) vs. Vincent Latoel (15-16-2)
Lepont by decision
BW: Muin Gafurov (5-0) vs. Casey Suire (5-1)
Suire by second-round submission
FW: Sunoto Peringkat (2-1) vs. Mario Satya Wirawan (3-1)
Peringkat by first-round knockout
StrawW: Angela Lee (1-0) vs. Elena Pashnina (0-2)
Lee by first-round submission
LHW: Jake Butler (5-1) vs. Cristiano Kaminishi (8-2)
Butler by third-round submission
BW: Sotir Kichukov (13-3) vs. Yusup Saadulaev (13-4-1)
Saadulaev by decision
FW: Martin Nguyen (4-0) vs. Bashir Ahmad (3-2)
Ahmad by decision
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