Adriano Moraes (ONE Championship)

Out of Obscurity: ONE Championship, RCC 1 and Pancrase 291

Every week, Combat Press takes a look at three regional, developmental or international cards from the upcoming weekend, previewing from each a single fight to which people should pay close attention. We will also list other significant bouts from the card, as well as information on how to follow each promotion and watch the events.

Let’s discover those prospects that fight in the obscurity of the regional, developmental and international circuits, waiting for their shot at the bright lights and big stage of the UFC, and those veterans looking for one more chance at stardom. It all begins here, in the small convention centers and high school gymnasiums. It all begins with promotions such as these…

ONE Championship: Legends of the World
Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines
Event Date: Nov. 10
Watch Event: pay-per-view stream at
Twitter: @ONEChampionship


Spotlight Fight:
Adriano Moraes (16-2) vs. Danny Kingad (7-0)

ONE Championship’s unique weigh-in rules can create confusion. Heck, we’ve even been accused of ranking a fighter in the wrong division purely because of the lack of knowledge among some fans as to how these divisions are categorized. That brings us to ONE Championship’s latest venture, dubbed “Legends of the World.” The card features title bouts in the flyweight and lightweight divisions, but the fighters will check in, respectively, at 135 and 170 pounds. So, while Adriano Moraes may hold ONE’s flyweight strap, he’ll technically compete as a bantamweight when he defends the belt against the undefeated Danny Kingad.

Moraes is in the midst of his second reign atop the ONE flyweight division. His current championship run began with an interim-title victory over Tilek Batyrov. Next, Moraes unified the title with a decision win over Kairat Akhmetov, who had narrowly edged Moraes two years prior to end the Brazilian’s first stint as the champion. The 28-year-old’s initial championship run included a victory over Geje Eustaquio for the belt and a successful defense against Riku Shibuya prior to the loss to Akhmetov. “Mikinho,” who trains out of Constrictor Team, suffered his only other career loss while competing as a bantamweight when he dropped a split decision to Yusup Saadulaev. Overall, Moraes, who has been fighting professionally since 2011, has eight submission victories and three knockouts.

Kingad is the latest hope for Filipino fans of ONE Championship. The Team Lakay La Trinidad Gym product has been stellar since making his pro debut in late 2014. He won three of his first four fights by decision, but he did submit his most seasoned opponent, Robin Catalan, during this stretch. The diminutive fighter has improved his finishing rate since coming to ONE Championship. First, he knocked out rookie foe Muhamad Haidar. Then, in his signature win, Kingad submitted ONE veteran Eugene Toquero. In April, he tacked on a decision nod over Muhammad Aiman.

Kingad is a tough up-and-comer who had demonstrated his ability to score the upset, as he did against the more experienced duo of Catalan and Toquero. However, even those victories aren’t enough to earn him favored status against Moraes, who has been in action against the likes of far more accomplished fighters like the aforementioned Akhmetov, Eustaquio, Shibuya and Saadulaev, as well as Kosuke Suzuki, Yasuhiro Urushitani and Dileno Lopes. While Moraes hasn’t always emerged victorious, he’s only lost via split verdicts to Saadulaev and Akhmetov.

Kingad, who doesn’t seem to possess the same finishing abilities as some of the other star Filipino fighters, is going to have his hands full in this one. He is very impressive on the mat, though, and that’s where this bout really gets interesting. Kingad pulled off a stunning reversal/throw when Toquero tried to take him down and then turned the fight into a clinic on how to smother and control an opponent before putting them out of their misery with a submission. However, he can get overzealous during takedowns or scrambles. He needs to focus on controlling from the top while conservatively working toward a submission. While he does come in strong for double-leg takedowns, he’d be best served by avoiding the technique, which could leave him too exposed to a guillotine or triangle from Moraes.

Moraes has an absurd eight-inch height advantage over Kingad, but this could be negated if Kingad turns this into a grappling affair. Moraes isn’t too shabby on the ground, either. He engaged in a wild, back-and-forth affair against common opponent Toquero before locking in the submission. He has the athleticism to overwhelm Kingad, the scrambling ability to match the Filipino, and the strength and size to keep top position when he gets there. Perhaps the biggest advantage for the champ is Kingad’s tendency to give up position. Moraes is much better at holding his ground, and he possesses the takedown ability to put Kingad’s back on the mat. We’re probably in for a very fun fight, but Moraes should narrowly escape with the belt around his waist.

Other key bouts: Eduard Folayang (18-5) vs. Martin Nguyen (9-1) for the lightweight title, Kevin Belingon (16-5) vs. Kevin Chung (5-0), Hayato Suzuki (17-0-2) vs. Alex Silva (5-1), Zhikang Zhao (9-2) vs. Thai Rithy (6-2), Gina Iniong (5-2) vs. Hertati Lumban Gaol (0-1), Joshua Pacio (12-2) vs. Roy Doliguez (7-4)

RCC 1: Fighting in the Cage 1
Uralochka Sports Palace in Ekaterinburg, Russia
Event Date: Nov. 11
Website: Facebook/rccboxing

Spotlight Fight:
Ivan Shtyrkov (12-0) vs. Christian M’Pumbu (21-8-1)

RCC Boxing is the promoter, and, as the name would suggest, the organization’s primary focus is on the sweet science. Now, though, the company has a potential MMA star on its hands in Ivan Shtyrkov, so the focus seems to be turning from boxing to mixed martial arts. Now, Shtyrkov fights in a cage opposite former Bellator light heavyweight titleholder Christian M’Pumbu.

Shtyrkov has frequented these types of events. His career has been spent competing under the German Titov Boxing Promotions banner in Russia. However, this doesn’t mean he’s been demolishing scrubs. Instead, he’s faced several notable names along the way. After stopping his first five low-level foes since turning pro in mid-2015, “Ural Hulk” encountered UFC veteran Jeff Monson in May 2016. The Russian fighter landed a blow that sent Monson to the mat, where Shtyrkov finished the experienced grappler with an armbar in 31 seconds of the very first round. However, Monson has gone on record stating that he expected an exhibition fight and entered the contest with an injured arm that Shtyrkov eventually targeted for the finish. Shtyrkov topped his next two opponents, including former UFC champ Ricco Rodriguez, via first-round TKO. This led to a November meeting with UFC and Strikeforce vet Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. The 28-year-old couldn’t stop Bigfoot, but he did earn the victory on the scorecards. In February, Shtyrkov added another UFC veteran, Rodney Wallace, to his list of victims. In May, the Russian stopped UFC veteran Phil De Fries via strikes in the first round. In July, he waited until the second round before using his fists to pummel veteran Japanese fighter Satoshi Ishii for another stoppage victory.

M’Pumbu has been somewhat off the map since he departed from Bellator. After conquering Bellator’s light heavyweight division in 2011, “Tonton” lost a non-title fight to Travis Wiuff, returned more than a year later to drop his title in his very first defense against Attila Vegh and then suffered back-to-back stoppage losses against UFC veterans Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Kendall Grove before he left the organization. Since then, the 40-year-old has gone on to post a respectable 3-1 mark, but that came over the span of three years. He’s defeated the likes of Ramis Teregulov, Sebastien Huot Marchand and Sergio Souza. He suffered his lone loss in this stretch to UFC veteran Denis Stojnić. Overall, M’Pumbu, a savate stylist, has nine knockout wins and eight submission finishes.

Shtyrkov’s association with smaller boxing promotions has caused the smallish heavyweight to go overlooked by the MMA world, but the 29-year-old is a legitimate prospect. He’s outworked the likes of Bigfoot and Wallace, and he even stopped Rodriguez, De Fries and Ishii. However, there’s a dark cloud of controversy surrounding Shtyrkov that stems from his questionable win over Monson. As long as he’s fighting on Russian soil under the guidance of small boxing promotions, he’s not going to convince many hardcore MMA fans that he’s above the board.

M’Pumbu fits the general profile of Shtyrkov’s long list of name opponents. He’s fought for a major promotion and even held a title in Bellator, but he’s been on the decline for several years now. M’Pumbu suffered knockout losses to Rampage and Stojnić, which makes him the perfect target for the Russian’s effective striking arsenal. This isn’t likely to go much different than Shtyrkov’s last two fights. He’ll go out there and throw bombs at M’Pumbu until the fight is waved off. This should be another knockout finish for the Russian prospect.

Other key bouts: Magomed Magomedov (7-0) vs. Artur Karavaev (4-4), Paweł Pawlak (12-3) vs. Sergei Martynov (7-2), Dmitry Malikhin (3-0) vs. Vlado Neferanović (3-4)

Pancrase 291
Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: Nov. 12
Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Aziz Pahrudinov (16-0-1) vs. Kenichiro Togashi (18-11-5)

Pancrase’s 291st effort includes some notable veterans, including Masakatsu Ueda and Ryo Kawamura, but it also plays host to several undefeated fighters on the rise. Among those men sporting unblemished records, lightweight fighter Aziz Pahrudinov stands out. The Russian gets his first true test in his Pancrase debut when he meets veteran competitor Kenichiro Togashi.

Pahrudinov joins Pancrase following an extensive run on the regional circuits in Russia and the Ukraine, plus a stop in China. The K-Dojo Warrior Tribe fighter scored nine submissions, one knockout and a draw in his first 11 fights. The draw came against his Chinese opponent, UFC veteran and Kunlun Fight mainstay Lipeng Zhang. Over his six most recent fights, the Russian has reversed his finishing trend by scoring only two submissions and knocking out four of his opponents. Along the way, he’s stopped the likes of Vladislav Yurchenko and Udi Lima. Pahrudinov has seven armbar finishes and four choke submissions.

Togashi is a 34-fight veteran, but he has tallied wins in just over half of his outings. The 36-year-old debuted in 2001 and remained a Shooto mainstay, with a few visits to other promotions, until 2015. This will be his sixth straight fight under the Pancrase banner. During his extensive career, Togashi has defeated the likes of Kotetsu Boku, Will Chope and Eiji Ishikawa and lost to notables Joachim Hansen, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Brian Cobb, Willamy Freire and Isao Kobayashi. The Paraestra Hiroshima fighter has a foundation in judo, boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has submitted eight of his opponents. The southpaw has used his striking skills to dominate past opponents, but consistency isn’t a strong suit for Togashi against notable competition.

Pahrudinov was poised to make his American debut for the Titan Fighting Championships in 2014, but the deal fizzled and the Russian was left to compete in numerous regional promotions in his homeland. This move to Pancrase gives him another chance to prove that he can take the next step up in competition. He draws a gatekeeper opponent who doesn’t always win, even when he should.

Togashi’s most alarming loss came last year against sub-.500 fighter João Batista Yoshimura who finished the Japanese veteran off with strikes in the second stanza. Togashi usually tends to lose to more skilled fighters, but his chin is now a huge question mark. He is resilient in avoiding submissions, however, so Pahrudinov might be forced to test that chin.

Pahrudinov can add to his resume with a win here. Togashi isn’t a headlining name or a fellow top prospect, but he’s a savvy veteran who does hold wins over a UFC veteran and a former ONE Championship titleholder. This is exactly the type of fight Pahrudinov needs in order to show that he can succeed at the next level. Togashi’s tendency to fail against tough opponents will rear its head again here. Pahrudinov should put a stamp on this performance with a first-round knockout.

Other key bouts: Masakatsu Ueda (25-5-2) vs. Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha (14-5-4), Takumi Suzuki (5-1) vs. Issei Tamura (10-8), Hidekazu Fukushima (12-5-1) vs. Tadahiro Harada (11-5-2), Takaaki Nara (3-0) vs. Kenta Takagi (15-15), Yoshinori Horie (5-0) vs. Kazushi Sugiyama (13-7-1), Ryo Kawamura (18-9-4) vs. Yuki Niimura (10-4) for the middleweight title, Masayuki Kikuiri (1-0) vs. Hiroshi Takahashi (9-11-2)

Last Week’s Scorecard
Fight Prediction Outcome
Richard Odoms vs. Jeff Hughes at LFA 26 Odoms by knockout Hughes by decision
Artur Guseinov vs. Michail Tsarev at FNG 78 Tsarev by submission Tsarev by knockout
Gisele Moreira vs. Sarah Frota at Aspera FC 58 Moreira by decision Fight canceled