Luis Santos (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

ONE Championship: ‘Tribe of Warriors’ Preview and Predictions

On Saturday, Feb. 20, ONE Championship comes to Jakarta, Indonesia, for the first of two visits this year. The ONE Championship: Tribe of Warriors main event features No. 1 welterweight contender Luis “Sapo” Santos returning to the promotion after a controversial weight-cutting debacle kept him out of a scheduled championship bout against Ben Askren at ONE Championship: Pride of Lions in November.

That bout was meant to be a rematch of their April 2015 championship fight that ended in a controversial no-contest due to an eye poke from Askren. Santos fell out of favor with the promotion following the cancellation of the rematch. ONE CEO Victor Cui referred to the situation as “completely unprofessional”, while Askren called Santos a liar. Meanwhile, Santos revealed he was only given a small amount of time to make the weight cut, a cut that regularly sees Santos lose upwards of 30 pounds in the weeks leading to the fight.

Controversy aside, Santos brings a wealth of mixed martial arts experience into this headlining bout against fellow ONE veteran Rafael “The Machine” Silva. Santos hopefully won’t need to worry about cutting to 170 pounds, special weight stipulations or a late-notice weight cut with the new ONE Championship diet and weight-cutting system following the tragic loss of Yang Jian Bing.


In the co-main event of the evening, former ONE Championship lightweight champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku returns to the ONE cage with momentum when he takes on Netherlands-based fighter Vincent “Magnivincent” Latoel in a 158-pound catchweight bout. Both men will be fighting for the seventh time in the circular cage, with both looking to move their record above .500 inside the promotion. Asia and Europe collide in a fight that should produce excitement and very likely an impressive knockout or submission victory.

The rest of the fight card features returning ONE veterans, hot prospects on the rise and fighters from all corners of the globe making their ONE debut. Former flyweight Andrew Leone will battle Japanese bantamweight Koetsu Okazaki at a 141-pound catchweight. The 19-year-old ONE Championship star Angela “Unstoppable” Lee welcomes American Rebecca Heintzman in a 120-pound catchweight bout. Final Fight Championship light heavyweight champion Marcin Prachnio fights The Ultimate Fighter 3 participant Alexandre “Bebezão” Machado in a heavyweight attraction between two fighters making their promotional debut. The 35-year-old Yohan Mulia Legowo will seek his first ONE Championship win when he takes on Indonesian prospect Mario Satya Wirawan, who is coming off of a six-second knockout win at ONE Championship: Kingdom of Khmer in December.

All of the action can be watched live at 8 a.m. ET at

WW: Luis “Sapo” Santos (61-9-1) vs. Rafael Silva (40-15)

Luis “Sapo” Santos is a 36-year-old Brazilian training out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. He has racked up an impressive 48 finishes in 61 career wins. Sapo is most known for his blazing quick kicks, brutal head kicks and knee knockouts. He is undefeated in his past eight bouts, winning all but his last fight against Ben Askren that was deemed a no-contest. Since November 2008, Santos has defeated 20 opponents and finished 15 of them inside the distance — and all but two of them in the first round. Santos brings a dangerous finishing ability that made his fight with Askren so intriguing. His fight with Askren started off tense for the former NCAA national champion wrestler. Askren couldn’t get the takedown against the quick sprawl and agile kicking game of Santos. The bout was eventually stopped due to an eye poke, but the result shouldn’t take away the excitement to see one of the welterweight division’s top finishers back in action.

Rafael “The Machine” Silva is a 37-year-old Portuguese fighter based out of the RS team in Portugal. He trains alongside Bellator veteran Joao Paulo Faria and other veteran fighters Bruno Silva, Marcio Ribeiro Oliveira and Pedro Carvalho. Silva is an almost 14-year veteran who has amassed a whopping 40 wins in his professional career. He coerced more than half of the opponents he’s defeated to tap out when the experienced grappler locked up his tight submission attempts. Silva has never won a major world title, but he claimed multiple single-night tournaments and regional titles while he was competing in Europe as MMA grew across the continent. Silva lost just once, to UFC veteran Jess Liaudin, in a stretch of 11 fights from 2010 to 2013, when he made his UFC debut. Silva finished seven of his 10 wins during that stretch, with his biggest win coming by way of first-round knockout over Ukrainian prospect Pavel Kusch at Tech-Krep FC in March 2013. Silva made his ONE debut opposite Japanese veteran Tatsuya Mizuno at ONE Championship: Total Domination to finish out 2013. He returned to the promotion at the end of 2014 to take on undefeated Polish fighter Michal Pasternak at ONE Championship: Dynasty of Champions to mark his first fight in over a year. Silva sat on the sidelines for another year before successfully getting back in the win column in November with a guillotine-choke submission of Russian fighter Abdulmazhid Magomedov.

This third fight under the promotion banner may be the defining moment in Silva’s career. A win over Sapo would be by far the biggest name on his resume, and it would most likely keep him inside of the circular cage for the time being. Santos’ record might not be harmed if he loses to Silva on Saturday, but it would most likely be the worst-case scenario for his future in the promotion if he loses for the first time in 33 months.

Silva won’t offer much resistance to the aggressive punches, elbows, kicks and knees of the explosive, heavy-handed striker during the exchanges on the feet. Santos has the ability to walk across the cage and find his small window of opportunity to flatten Silva in his tracks. Sapo is a highly skilled finisher who can land offense in any area of the fight, taking advantage of the openings the ONE Championship rule set provides for fighters looking to finish with variety and style on the ground. Silva is an aggressive grappler who looks to win the wrestling battles and land on top of his opponents. Silva is primarily a counter striker with big, looping punches to close the distance.

Silva doesn’t offer Santos anything he hasn’t already been through in his 71 career fights. Santos walks into the cage with vengeance on his mind. He will walk out of the cage with another win and the case to finally fight ONE welterweight champion Askren. Santos finishes Silva with strikes within the first two rounds of the fight.

158-pound Catchweight: Kotetsu Boku (23-10-2) vs. Vincent Latoel (16-16-2)

Kotetsu “No Face” Boku is a 38-year-old Japanese fighter from South Korean descent. He has fought top competition throughout his 14-year career, spending the extent of his time training with the Krazy Bee (formerly Killer Bee) gym and leader Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. The former Shooto standout fought many of the top fighters in Japan and emerged with a mixed array of results. Boku used his defensive wrestling and counter striking to defeat Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ryan Bow to win the Shooto Pacific Rim title in 2005, but he lost in his attempts to win the Shooto world welterweight title against Yusuke Endo in 2009, and once again against UFC veteran Kuniyoshi Hironaka in 2011. Boku finished as the runner-up to former lightweight King of Pancrase Artur Oumakhanov in the Greatest Common Multiple lightweight tournament in 2006, and he lost to Joachim Hansen in the first round of the Dream Lightweight World Grand Prix in 2008. Boku’s career has had many highs and moments to make a potential break, but poor grappling and inconsistent fight IQ cost Boku fights against some of the high-level competition he faced.

Boku was given an opportunity to challenge Zorobabel Moreira for the inaugural ONE Championship lightweight title at ONE Championship: Rise of Kings in October 2012. Boku took a beating with low kicks to his legs and thighs. The damage wouldn’t deter Boku from landing his punches in combination and putting an end to “Zoro” in the third round. Boku’s reign as ONE champion came to an end in his next fight against former Dream lightweight champ Shinya Aoki, a fighter who has not lost since 2012. Boku alternated losses with wins in his next four ONE bouts, defeating Arnaud Lepont and Major Overall, and picking up a second-round knockout against 20-year-old prospect Juntaro Ushiku at Pancrase 267 in May 2015. Boku moved his winning streak to two straight with an impressive finish of Overall after he dropped him with a right hand and followed up with devastating combination punching to illicit the standing referee stoppage.

Vincent “Magnivincent” Latoel, 36, trains out of Tatsujin Dojo in Holland under the tutelage of Golden Glory head coach Martijn de Jong. Latoel will be making the trip to Indonesia with his countrymen and training partner Anthony Engelen, who is also fighting on this card. Latoel began his 14-year professional career much like Boku. The fighter, training under the founder of Shooto Europe, was given fights with talented fighters from the very beginning of his career, leading to many highs and lows throughout his long fighting history in Europe, Brazil and Japan. Latoel received the call to join ONE Championship in 2013 after not having fought for more than three years. Latoel locked up a guillotine choke against fellow countryman Willy Ni, a rival gym member from Mike’s Gym, in under two minutes. He fell short against Filipino striker Eduard Folayang in his next bout, but an upset first-round knockout of Eddie Ng in his next bout renewed the excitement around Latoel’s acquisition by the promotion. Latoel lost his next two bouts by submission to veteran fighters Caros Fodor and Adrian Pang. He surprised the aforementioned Lepont in his most recent bout at ONE Championship: Odyssey of Champions, stopping him in lightning-quick fashion with punches and a few soccer kicks just as the second frame began. The knockout would become notable not for Latoel’s impressive work, but for the lack of response by ONE Championship medical staff to Lepont.

Boku is an excellent boxer with an active jab and left hook that only slows down when faced with an above-average kicker who moves well. Boku had trouble with the kicks from Vuyisile Colossa and the aforementioned Folayang. His inability to put together sustained offense in those bouts led to inactivity and, eventually, decision loses. Boku is at his best when he gets in a rhythm. He needs to feel it. He needs to get a shot in and move out of the way, land a right hand and start touching the body with his left hook and uppercuts.

Boku may be 38 years old, but he continues to show bright moments in fights at opportune times. Latoel is a good striker who is willing to exchange in the pocket with the Japanese slugger. Latoel went toe-to-toe with Lepont in his most recent fight. Lepont landed hard kicks and punches in all ranges of the fight, hitting a few exceptionally hard kicks during the transition between the ground and standing.

Neither man is going to try to wrestle their way to a decision, but both will grab a choke if given an opportunity for a quick win. This fight most likely won’t hit the 15-minute mark, but at the very least, this fight will be action-packed and could easily end in a monstrous knockout. Boku will fight through the size disadvantage and put together his punches well enough to finish Latoel with a combination of strikes late in the fight, after Latoel has to weather some of the punching combinations of Boku.

141-pound Catchweight: Koetsu Okazaki (10-4-1) vs. Andrew Leone (7-2)

Koetsu Okazaki, 36, is a former Shooto world champion training out of the Nakanoshima MMA Academy in Osaka, Japan. He held an impressive record fighting his way through the Shooto ranks for seven and a half years. He picked up impressive wins over Atsushi Yamamoto, So Tazawa and Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappler Tetsu “Hadairo” Suzuki along his journey through the Shooto featherweight division. His most impressive wins came when Okazaki scored knockouts over former Shooto world champs Hiromasa Ogikubo and Shuichiro Katsumura, the latter being the man from whom he stole the title. Okazaki lost the title when Ogikubo locked up a rear-naked choke finish in the third round of their 2012 championship fight.

Okazaki received the opportunity to fight Bibiano Fernandes for the ONE Championship interim bantamweight title. He fought five hard rounds against one of the best fighters outside of the UFC, but the Japanese fighter was unable to pull off the victory. Okazaki got back in the win column with a second-round rear-naked choke finish of Josh Alvarez in 2013 and added to the building momentum with a comeback win over Yusup Saadulaev in July 2014. Okazaki re-entered the loss column when he couldn’t decipher the kicking offense of Filipino striker Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon. Belingon dropped Okazaki late in the first round with a heavy series of punches that sent the Japanese fighter stumbling back. Belingon never relinquished this advantage, hurting Okazaki on multiple occasions in the second and third rounds, landing elbow after elbow, kick after kick. Okazaki’s warrior spirit pulled him through the brutal beating, but questions were raised following the poor performance. Okazaki was scheduled to return against Korean striker Dae Hwan Kim at ONE Championship: Dynasty of Champions in September 2015, but the event was canceled due to the Chinese celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Andrew Leone is a 26-year-old American fighting out of Bali Muay Thai and MMA in Indonesia. The wrestling and grappling instructor trains alongside ONE Championship fighters Keanu and Gianni Subba, Casey Suire and Lion Fight multi-division champion Tiffany “Time Bomb” van Soest. Leone has never fought in his home country, instead moving and fighting in Asia since his debut in 2010. He fought his way through tough competition in the Taiwanese-based ProFC and South Korean-based Road Fighting Championship organizations. Leone was the first man to defeat inaugural ONE Championship bantamweight champion Soo Chul Kim, a feat he achieved in just 28 seconds. Leone topped the win by defeating UFC bantamweight prospect Kyung Ho Kang by decision in the opening round of the Road FC eight-man bantamweight tournament, albeit because of a point deduction because Kang missed weight. Leone defeated current Road FC flyweight champion Min Jong Song in the semifinals of the tournament and faced Kang in the finals of the tournament after his opponent re-entered the bracket as an alternate. Kang made good use of the golden opportunity set forth in front of him, submitting Leone with a rear-naked choke to earn his shot in the UFC. Leone returned to the drawing board in Phuket, Thailand, with Phuket Top Team. He made his ONE Championship debut against Lakay MMA striker Geje Eustaquio, out-grappling the disadvantaged wrestler for the 15-minute duration at ONE FC 9. Leone continued his streak of shocking upsets in his most recent fight when he defeated former Shooto world champion Shinichi “BJ” Kojima in March 2014.

The near 20-month layoff could be detrimental to Leone. Or it could be exactly what the young prospect needs to renew talk of his potential. Leone made a successful move to train with Bali MMA & Muay Thai, a rising gym in the Asian MMA landscape. He is a grappler who is just as aggressive in short, bursting attacks on the feet as he is taking his opponents to the mat and transitioning to back control. Leone will need to use his athleticism and ability to close distance while changing levels to get himself in an advantageous position on the mat.

Okazaki won’t go away easy. He is a more than competent grappler who could reverse the momentum of the fight at any moment. Okazaki will need to keep his back off of the cage, keep moving his feet and use his jab to set up his right hand and left hook. Okazaki can fight in all areas of MMA, but he looked stumped dealing with distance control in his last fight. Okazaki will be hoping that Leone’s knack for fighting inside will lead to better results in this fight.

Leone comes back to the circular cage with a renewed spirit and improved skill set in which he moves himself one step closer to challenging ONE Championship bantamweight champion Fernandes with a decision win over Okazaki.

120-pound Catchweight: Angela Lee (4-0) vs. Rebecca Heitzman (2-1)

Angela Lee has been nothing short of ONE Championship’s crowning achievement. At just 19 years old, she has already amassed an undefeated record with four victories inside the ONE cage. Lee made her professional debut against Egyptian striker Aya Saeid Saber at ONE Championship: Warrior’s Quest in Indonesia in May 2015. She submitted Saber just 103 seconds into the first frame, a result Lee would repeat against her next two opponents, Mona Samir and Natalie Hills. In her most recent outing in December, Lee faced Polish prospect Lena Tkhorevska. Lee showed her lack in experience against Tkhorevska, facing adversity in the form of a stiff right hand, a multitude of kicks to the face on the ground and a tougher than expected battle on the mat. Lee showcased her toughness in the back-and-forth fight, eventually taking the back in a scramble and locking in the rear-naked choke.

Rebecca Heintzman is a 29-year-old American based out of Power of One MMA in New York state. She spent much of her amateur career fighting in the northeast, not in her home state of New York, which is infamously known for being the only state in the United States that does not sanction amateur and professional MMA bouts despite many promotions still conducting unsanctioned amateur events in the state. Heintzman won the North American Allied Fight Series women’s strawweight title in her last amateur fight when she beat Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu fighter Rachel “Black Widow” Sazoff by decision in December 2012. She made a successful professional debut against Allison Haynes at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 28 in October 2013. She defeated Rachel Sazoff by split decision in a rematch of their amateur title bout at CFFC 31. Heintzman lost her most recent bout via decision to flyweight prospect Katlyn Chookagian at CFFC 38 in June 2014.

Heintzman will be returning to competition after nearly 20 months outside of the cage. It’s a tough task for anyone, but especially against one of the top female fighters in the promotion. Heintzman likes to mix things up on the feet and get on top of her opponent when the action hits the mat. She will have to be smart in her approach, however, since Lee is a very dangerous submission artist, but even more so when Lee can work from the top and mix in her aggressive ground-and-pound. Heintzman is a competitor. She will have to use that toughness and will to win the wrestling exchanges. She is better served to keep the fight on the feet and look to take advantage of the weakness Lee showed in her defense of Tkhorevska’s right hands.

Lee should show improvements in this fight under the training of the talented coaching staff at Evolve MMA in Singapore. Lee will do what she has shown she is capable of doing in her past fights: she will find a way to win. Lee locks up a fight-ending submission after Heintzman gets caught on the bottom in a transition.

Fight Card Predictions
Fight Prediction
HW: Alexandre “Bebezão” Machado (7-1) vs. Marcin Prachnio (9-2) Prachnio by first-round knockout
FW: Rocky Batolbatol (5-1) vs. Anthony Engelen (3-1) Batolbatol by decision
FW: Mario Satya Wirawan (6-2) vs. Yohan Mulia Legowo (7-4) Wirawan by decision
WW: Djatmiko Waluyo (5-0) vs. Trestlan Tan (3-5) Waluyo by first-round knockout
BW: Jerome Paye (2-1) vs. Hao Yi Jie (0-0) Paye by first-round submission
158-pound Catchweight: Bashir Ahmad (3-2) vs. Jimmy Yabo (4-2) Ahmad by second-round submission