ONE Championship comes to Macau, China for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 13, for ONE Championship: Heroes of the World. The inaugural trip to the Cotai Arena features a nine-fight card topped with a championship fight and many of the promotion’s top prospects.
The evening’s main event features the return of former ONE Championship flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes, getting his chance to regain the title while the current champion, Kairat Akhmetov, sits on the sidelines. Moraes welcomes promotional newcomer Tilek Batyrov to the cage on short notice after his original opponent, Andrew Leone, was pulled from the bout due to injury.
In the co-main event of the evening, lightweight contenders Adrian Pang and Eduard Folayang battle for position in a crowded division. Pang has finished both of his opponents, Vincent Latoel and Peter Davis, since joining the promotion in 2014. Folayang returned to the win column over Tetsuya Yamada in January following a brutal knockout defeat from the flying knee and soccer kicks of Timofey Nastyukhin in 2014.
The main card features many of ONE’s top prospects vying for position in their respective divisions. Honorio Banario hopes to keep his turn of fortune going after finally making it into the win column against Vaughn Donayre at ONE Championship: Global Rivals following five straight losses. Banario takes on Chinese national Eddie Ng, who faces a similar stretch of misfortune after winning his first four fights inside the promotion.
The younger of the Lee siblings returns to the caged circle against Australian prospect Martin Nguyen. Eighteen-year-old Christian Lee has already amassed an undefeated record in five fights with the promotion since his debut last December. Lee finished all five of his opponents in under one round. Nguyen will be Lee’s toughest test to date. The 27-year-old has picked up wins in three of his four ONE championship bouts. His only loss coming at the hands of current ONE featherweight champion Marat Gafurov.
In the rest of the evening’s action, Mei Yamaguchi returns to action following her fight of the year contender with ONE Championship atomweight champion Angela Lee. “V.V.Mei” welcomes 24-year-old Brazilian prospect Istela Nunes to the circular cage. The heavyweights make a rare appearance when kickboxing veteran Alain “The Panther” Ngalani looks to expand on his second win inside the promotion. Ngalani takes on Brazilian heavyweight Alexandre Machado. Prospects collide when undefeated Team Lakay prospect Joshua Pacio fights Full Metal Dojo veteran Kritsada Konsrichai. Chan Rothana hopes to keep his two-fight winning streak alive when he takes on 22-year-old Chinese prospect Hao Bin Ma. Finally, 19-year-old Chinese prospect Jia Wen Ma fights Filipino featherweight Jimmy Yabo.
Interim Flyweight Title: Adriano Moraes (14-2) vs. Tilek Batyrov (10-2)
Former ONE Championship flyweight champion Adriano Moraes gets a chance for revenge with a victory on Saturday in Macau. The 27-year-old Brazilian is among the best flyweights outside of the world’s top promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The Constrictor team product hails from Brasilia, Brazil, however “Mikinho” made a name for himself with big victories inside of the ONE Championship cage.
Moraes put together a stretch of five wins inside the promotion before dropping his flyweight title in a split decision loss to the aforementioned Akhmetov. The loss was only his second career defeat, but the decision was not without controversy. The promotion prides itself in the scoring system for its judges, a system that follows similarities to the once former top promotion in Asia, Pride Fighting Championships. The judging criteria is based on damage, a near knockout or submission, striking combinations and ground control, aggression and finally earned and defended takedowns. According to this criteria, Moraes should have come away with his hand raised in his championship defeat.
Akhmetov did his best work in the first and second round, but he couldn’t do much else in the latter half of the fight. Moraes used his speed and athleticism to defend almost every takedown while maintaining superior position on the ground. He wasn’t able to lock in a near submission, but that doesn’t mean “Mikihno” wasn’t able to control the pace and positioning on the mat for most of the bout. Moraes landed the better punches and kicks on the feet, but there was nothing significant enough to cause a major swing in either man’s favor.
Despite winning in his last outing, Moraes had more trouble against his most recent opponent, Eugene Toquero, than he did with Akhmetov. Toquero cracked Moraes with a solid upkick that stunned the young Brazilian. Moraes was in survival mode. Toquero wasn’t able to land any flush strikes to finish off the struggling Moraes. The experienced grappler stayed calm under fire and eventually survived. Moraes turned the tables late in the round when he locked in a tight anaconda choke for the tap, and the win.
Tilek Batyrov is a 24-year-old bantamweight fighting out of Krygyzstan. Batyrov has built a name for himself in Russia and Asia as a rough and tumble fighter. He has picked up nine finishes in his 10 career victories with only three fights reaching the final bell. Batyrov’s best win was a quick guillotine victory against Russian MMA vet Yunus Evloev at a Fight Nights event in 2014.
The much larger Batyrov has had moments of great success, despite struggling against lesser competition in the past. The Russian MMA circuit is one of the most talent rich in the world. Batyrov’s time fighting in Russia was proof of that. Despite Batyrov not facing competition with strong name value, he has been in the ring with talented fighters and come away victorious more times than not.
In his most recent outing against Giovanni Moljo at Kunlun Fight Cage Series 4, Batyrov was able to fend off the underrated American and find his path to victory in his only win that went the distance. Moljo had success taking Batyrov down and passing his guard in the first two rounds, but the Krygyzstani bantamweight battled back late in the second and the third to capture the decision. Batyrov switched from counter fighter to aggressor in the third frame. The young prospect sensed he was on the wrong side of the decision without winning the third, so he turned up the pressure and his striking volume to take home the victory in a close fight.
Batyrov can hold his own in any aspect of the MMA game, but he finds his best success in the dirty, gritty, grinding fights. Batyrov is a superior athlete who can compete in all areas of the sport despite being not as technically skilled. Batyrov likes to use his counter left hook, lead left jab and rear leg kicking attack to keep his opponent guessing. However, he is a risk taker. He’s found himself in disadvantageous position because he jumped on a guillotine, or couldn’t defend a takedown. Batyrov can fight his way out of a bad position and return fire.
That will be tougher said than done against a much superior grappler on the mat. Moraes has a clear advantage if the fight hits the floor. The question is whether or not Moraes wants the fight there. He has shown a diverse striking attack in the past. Moraes likes to pour on the punishment with his kicking offense and sharp technical skills. He is comfortable fighting off of his back, however the Brazilian does his best work in top position. Moraes will have trouble holding Batyrov down if he can get him in side control, which is a favorite position of the former champion. Moraes looked to set up a north-south choke on multiple occasions in his bout with Akhmetov. That is certainly a technique that could give Moraes the victory as he attempts to regain his title. I expect Moraes to find his rhythm on the feet, but ultimately get the victory on the ground. Moraes locks up a submission on the short-notice replacement Batyrov.
Fight Card Predictions
Adrian Pang (22-8-2) vs. Eduard Folayang (15-5)
Pang by decision
Honorio Banario (9-6) vs. Eddie Ng (7-3)
Banario by knockout
Christian Lee (5-0) vs. Martin Nguyen (6-1)
Lee by submission
Alain Ngalani (2-2) vs. Alexandre Machado (7-2)
Ngalani by knockout
Mei Yamaguchi (15-9-1) vs. Istela Nunes (5-0)
Yamaguchi by knockout
Kritsada Konsrichai (4-2) vs. Josh Pacio (11-0)
Pacio by decision
Hao Bin Ma (2-1) vs. Chan Rothana (4-1)
Rothana by knockout
Jimmy Yabo (5-3) vs. Jia Wen Ma (2-2)
Ma by decision
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