ONE: Immortal Pursuit was already shaping up to be one of the biggest and best events of ONE Championship’s history. Now, after the announcement of the entire fight card for the organization’s return to Singapore, it is packed with highly significant matches throughout.
It goes without question that the rematch between Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi is one of the most highly anticipated bouts from ONE Championship in 2017. It’s also undeniable that Ben Askren’s retirement fight with Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki is a must-watch contest between two pioneers of grappling in mixed martial arts.
Here are three more fights on ONE: Immortal Pursuit you should look forward to:
1 Amir Khan vs Adrian Pang
Amir Khan has rarely made a bad step inside the ONE Championship cage. His only loss in the organization is to Shannon Wiratchai back in April 2015 and since then, the 22-year-old has made remarkable improvements.
Khan is now one of the most fluid, yet dangerous strikers in all of ONE Championship and he has all the accolades to show for it, too. His current five-fight winning streak dates back to November 2015 and it includes four first-round finishes. His most recent knockout victory against Jaroslav Jartim also helped him extend his record for the most knockouts (7) and finishes (8) in the history of ONE Championship.
Amir Khan (8-2) recently told us "by the first half of 2018, I should get the title."
But, to do so, he will need to get through a mighty opponent in Adrian "The Hunter" Pang.
Adrian Pang (22-10-2) has seen almost everything there is to see inside the mixed martial arts cage. Pang is not only very experienced but has a ferocious approach to fighting and an ability to end fights at any moment.
Pang debuted in ONE Championship back in 2014 and submitted Vincent Latoel in the third round. He then ended Peter Davis' night in just 48 seconds at ONE: Tigers of Asia. From there, Pang bounced up the rankings before sharing the ONE Championship cage with Eduard Folayang. "The Hunter" brought his fast-paced style to Macau, China and tested Folayang's endurance and determination for the entire three rounds, but it wasn't enough as he dropped a unanimous decision to Folayang. Most recently, Pang also lost a painfully close split decision to Roger Huerta at ONE: Defending Honor in Singapore.
If you want a narrative leading into this fight, here it is: Adrian Pang was the unfortunate stepping stone for Eduard Folayang on the way to claiming the ONE Lightweight World Championship. Amir Khan is looking to do the same as the two compete at ONE: Immortal Pursuit.
Why you should watch:
Adrian Pang has not been stopped since 2006. Can Amir Khan's fluent movement, and precise and powerful striking gain the respect of the merciless Pang? Or will Pang walk through all that the record-setting Singaporean offers?
2 Leandro Issa vs Andrew Leone
Possibly the simplest way of explaining Leandro "Brodinho" Issa's (14-6-1) experience inside the ONE Championship arena is by mentioning that he competed in the inaugural event of the promotion back in 2011. In fact, his rivalry with Soo Chul Kim was one of the most intriguing early narratives in the organization. After scoring a unanimous decision victory at ONE FC: Champion vs Champion, Issa would lose to Soo Chul Kim in a rematch with title implications shortly after.
It wasn't long after this loss when Issa transferred to the UFC in a move that provided mixed results. He went 2-3 in the promotion with wins against Yuta "Ulka" Sasaki and Tuerxen Jumabieke but suffered defeats to Iuri Alcantara, Russell Doane, and Taylor Lapilus. His contest with Jumabieke was extraordinary and Issa secured 'Performance of the Night' and 'Fight of the Night' awards in an elusive double-bonus feat.
Issa returned to the ONE Championship cage in August 2017 at ONE: Kings and Conquerors and defeated Toni Tauru by second-round TKO. It was a somewhat surprising method of victory from "Brodinho" as he usually relies on his submission ability to finish opponents.
Issa will compete against Andrew Leone (8-3), whose record doesn't quite do justice to the wealth of experience he has as a mixed martial artist. With four fights under his belt at ONE Championship and three fights for Road FC, Leone has been battling some of the best competition across Asia since 2011. In fact, Leone had defeated Soo Chul Kim just two months before he stepped inside the cage with "Brodinho" at ONE FC 1.
It's without question, though, that Andrew Leone's career as a mixed martial artist had been leading up to his most recent contest; a title challenge against the ever-dangerous Bibiano Fernandes at ONE: Kings and Conquerors. Unfortunately for Leone, Fernandes submitted him in just 1:47 and squashed his hopes of becoming a world champion, for now. However, in the grand scheme of things, Bibiano Fernandes is one of the very best bantamweights in the world and has remained undefeated since 2010.
Why you should watch:
This is a long overdue matchup between two accomplished ONE Championship athletes. Can Leandro Issa's more traditional jiu-jitsu techniques overcome Leone's modern approach to grappling in mixed martial arts?
3 Li Kai Wen vs Ahmed Mujtaba
Li Kai Wen (6-3) and Ahmed Mujtaba (6-1) are two of ONE Championship's most talented prospects, regardless of weight division.
Don't let Li's record fool you. Despite three losses to his name, two of these defeats came against much larger opponents back when Li was competing at Chinese Kungfu Championships. For reasons unknown, Li, who now competes at 145lbs, debuted at 165lbs before also competing at 176 lbs.
Li's arrival in ONE Championship was tremendous. He made his first organizational appearance at ONE: Dynasty of Champions and was crowned ONE Featherweight Beijing Tournament 2014 Champion after two fights in the same night. He has since enjoyed a wildly successful ONE Championship career that is topped off with a win over fellow featherweight prospect Keanu Subba. Li's only loss at featherweight is to the current champion Martin Nguyen, who Li had stunned early in the fight.
Standing across from Li Kai Wen will be Pakistan's rising MMA star, Ahmed Mujtaba. Mujtaba scored a unanimous decision victory against Benedict Ang in his ONE Championship debut in November 2016. Ang, a highly touted prospect out of Evolve MMA, could not hang with Mujtaba when the contest got tough. Looking to build on his momentum, Mujtaba entered the ONE Championship cage with Keanu Subba but was submitted in just 2:56. This contest was troubling for Mujtaba, who seemed unable to deal with the physicality of his opponent.
Why you should watch:
Will the fearless Li Kai Wen catch Ahmed Mujtaba early? Or will Mujtaba survive the early storm and wrestle Li down to the mat?
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