November promises to be the month of ONE Championship “Super Fights”.
The organization isn’t holding anything back as we approach the end of 2017. With the announcement of Eduard Folayang vs Martin Nguyen set to take place in the Philippines on November 10, it will mark the first-ever cross-divisional champion vs champion matchup in ONE Championship history.
It’s amazing to think that a fight of this magnitude is adding to a month of fights from the organization that includes the highly-anticipated rematch between Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi and Ben Askren’s retirement fight against Shinya Aoki. Both of these incredible matchups are set to take place in Singapore’s ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit on 24 November, which looks to be a mega-event in ONE Championship’s self-proclaimed headquarters.
Let’s take a look at the three ONE Championship fights that we’re looking forward to the most:
1 Angela Lee vs Mei Yamaguchi
ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit - 24 November
When Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi met at ONE Championship: Ascent to Power in May 2015, it proved to be not only one of the best fights of 2016 but one of the greatest women's mixed martial arts contests of all time.
The fight really had it all. Angela Lee threatened with multiple submission attempts, while Mei Yamaguchi struck Lee hard with a devastating right hand that changed the entire course of the fight in the third round. At the end of it all, Angela Lee had her hand raised and was crowned the inaugural ONE Women's Atomweight World Champion.
This time around, Angela Lee is looking for the finish:
Last time (vs Mei) was the biggest fight of my life. I was very, very nervous for that fight. I feel a lot more confident now. I enter this fight with complete confidence. I know that I have the skills to finish her. This time, I don’t think this one will go to a decision.
The fight with Mei Yamaguchi will be Angela Lee's third title defense in 2017. The 21-year-old is doing remarkable things in the sport and for ONE Championship and a decisive victory over her toughest challenge to date will cement Angela Lee as one of the greatest pound-for-pound champions worldwide.
While Mei Yamaguchi hasn't been as active in 2017 as Angela Lee, she did score an impressive second-round submission victory against Jenny Huang in June. When asked about her inactivity and how she is preparing for Angela Lee this time around, Yamaguchi stated:
While I didn’t fight in MMA, I competed a lot in BJJ tournaments. I competed at the world championships and finished third. I have significantly improved my jiu-jitsu and my boxing as well, this fight will be better than the first one.
This fight isn't just one of the best ONE Championship bouts to look forward to, it's also one of the most-anticipated fights across all organizations to come in 2017.
2 Eduard Folayang vs Martin Nguyen
ONE Championship: Legends of the World - 10 November
Announced just yesterday, September 19, ONE Championship's return to Manila, Philippines will be headlined by a revolutionary cross-divisional showdown between two ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang and ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen.
Martin Nguyen is one of the hottest prospects on the entire ONE Championship roster. He's still growing exponentially every time we see him compete in ONE Championship but he has already managed to score a ONE Championship Title. In August, Nguyen (9-1) challenged Marat Gafurov (15-0) for the second time and managed to knock out the previously undefeated and generally untroubled fighter from Russia in the second round. Nguyen showcased vastly improved grappling skills to hold off the submission onslaught from Gafurov before finding a home for his punches 1:27 into round two before stunning the thousands of fans watching in Kuala Lumpur. This time around, it won't be as stunning if Martin Nguyen scores a victory because we're all now fully aware of the potential that the Australian brings to every fight. Nguyen commented:
I'm out not only to make a statement, but to go down in history as the best to ever compete under the ONE Championship banner. I have the utmost respect for the lightweight champion, and will definitely not take his skills for granted. But this is going to be a dog fight. It's the first time two champions in different divisions go head-to-head in ONE, and I am excited to give the performance of a lifetime.
Eduard Folayang (18-5) is one of the more experienced fighters hailing from the Philipines. Folayang managed to claim the ONE Lightweight World Championship after scoring an impressive third-round TKO victory against Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki in November 2016. Since then, Folayang has successfully defended his title once against the ever-dangerous Malaysian Ev Ting. Entering the fight with Nguyen, Folayang stated:
Martin [Nguyen] is one of the best in the world and it is an honor to share the ONE Championship cage with him. This is a bout for the fans, and I can’t wait to perform in front of my hometown crowd in Manila once again.
Eduard Folayang vs Martin Nguyen doesn't just feature here because of the cross-divisional champion vs champion aspect; these two fighters really know how to go at it inside the ONE Championship arena and will be looking to put on a show for the fans.
3 Ben Askren vs Shinya Aoki
ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit - 24 November
Ben Askren will be looking to conclude his mixed martial arts career in style as he takes on Shinya Aoki in Singapore in November. Askren is arguably the greatest welterweight across any organization at the moment and will undoubtedly be pushed to the limits against the Japanese grappling legend. Askren has gone on to finish six of his last seven opponents and employs a unique adapted folkstyle wrestling approach to his grappling in mixed martial arts. Askren looks to pour on the pressure with heavy ground and pound while ignoring traditional jiu-jitsu techniques and expectations inside the cage.
Shinya has a unique style that is very similar to mine. I don’t get to face off with someone with a style similar to mine. This will feel like what it’s like to go against myself.
Shinya Aoki is the former ONE Lightweight World Champion and is easily one of the most decorated grappling athletes to ever transition into mixed martial arts. Aoki's black belt in judo and jiu-jitsu results in him using an unconventional approach with his grappling inside the cage. Aoki last featured in ONE Championship in a fascinating Grappling Super Match with no-gi grappling expert Garry Tonon. Despite controlling the majority of exchanges, one simple mistake allowed Garry Tonon to lock up a signature heel hook and finish the match. When asked why he accepted a fight with Ben Askren, Shinya Aoki commented:
The reason why I took this fight is because this match is totally unique. No audience or MMA fans expected this. It’s totally over their expectations. I don’t know how many fights are left in my career. For that reason, this fight will be very energetic and exciting. I’ll give everything I have got in this fight. I’m looking forward to fighting Ben Askren.
This grappler vs grappler matchup is certain to be one of the most entertaining fights of Ben Askren's career.
This is only the beginning...
While November may prove to be one of the greatest months of mixed martial arts in the organization's nine-year history, things are only just getting started for ONE Championship.
ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong has been massively influential in Asia and the continued dominance of the organization is primarily due to his understanding of the local market and promotion of the good nature of mixed martial arts.
Interested in hearing the philosophy of Chatri Sityodtong and ONE Championship? You can listen to Loren Mack below:
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