Mixed martial arts is a tough business, especially if you’re the one in the cage. Last Friday night, March 18, at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, ONE Championship held its second live event in the country dubbed “Union of Warriors”.
The card featured solid action all across the board, with 9 out 10 bouts ending within the distance. Like most sports however, there are winners and there are losers.
Here’s a look at what’s next for winners at ONE: UNION OF WARRIORS.
#1 Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly
(def. Jordan Lucas by Rear Naked Choke at 3:47 of round 1)
Kelly’s age and experience played a huge factor in his victory against promising young prospect Jordan “Showtime” Lucas. His previously unbeaten Australian opponent was a world champion in a different promotion and was expected to provide a good showing, but Kelly stuck to his guns and rode out the early onslaught to pull off the victory.
Lucas was dominating Kelly with takedowns and ground-and-pound prior to the fight-ending choke.
A veteran of five ONE fights, Kelly was resolved to gatekeeper as of late and was in dire need of a good victory. He got that by beating Lucas. ONE’s featherweight division is deep, and he should be matched up pretty soon against a contender following this win. Expect to see Kelly on another card later this year, battling another tough opponent.
Possible matchups include Anthony Engelen, Bruno Pucci, Rocky Batolbatol and Major Overall.
#2 Alex Silva
(def. Robin Catalan by Arm Triangle Choke at 4:32 of round 1)
Robin Catalan, Silva’s third straight opponent bearing the Catalan name, showcased his family’s famous Wushu base against the Brazilian. The Catalan fighting family is known for their Wushu, and it proved problematic for Silva who had trouble closing the distance. Silva stayed true to form however, performing at his best as soon as matters eventually hit the ground.
The end came as swiftly as the fight transitioned from stand-up to a deadly game of jiu-jitsu.
It must have been awkward for Silva to see his name blasted up on the LCD with the moniker, “The Catalan Killer”, but after his third straight victory over a Catalan, that’s pretty much who he is at the moment. There is one Catalan left for Silva to fight and that’s Rabin Catalan, but there is no indication that he has a contract with ONE Championship.
In any case, expect Silva to finally test his mettle against someone different.
There are a number of great matchups for Silva at flyweight, including Malaysia’s Saiful Merican, Thailand’s Anatpong Bunrad and even the charismatic Eugene Toquero.
#3 Christian “The Warrior” Lee
(def. Anthony Engelen by Technical Knockout at 4:14 of round 1)
By now, everyone has to know there’s something special about Christian Lee. The young MMA prospect from Waipahu, Hawaii put all his weapons on display against Dutch opponent Anthony Engelen, and it was an absolute sight to behold. Lee’s in-and-out movement ran circles around Engelen, who was positioned as his toughest test yet — one that he passed with flying colors.
With a dazzling array of flashy kicks and lightning quick strikes, Lee is poised to continue his rise through the ranks.
As Engelen was a late replacement for the injured Keanu Subba, who Lee was originally scheduled to fight, look for the bout to be revisited again very soon. Subba is out a for a few months from an elbow injury which caused him to withdraw from the bout with Lee in the first place. This should also give Lee a few months off to rest as well.
Lee-Subba is one of the most anticipated matchups of the year, and they’ll face each other in the cage soon enough.
#4 Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes
(def. Eugene Toquero by D’Arce Choke at 4:53 of round 1)
Moraes showed fans why his jiu-jitsu is and will always be his proverbial coup de grace, overcoming a spirited effort from Filipino stalwart and occasional hair-flipper, Eugene Toquero. Toquero mangled Moraes with his erratic combinations and did what he said he was going to do and that was to use his Muay Thai to rough up the former flyweight champion.
But there was to be no hair-flipping Friday night. Moraes closed the gap on Toquero and strangled him with a D’Arce choke that Toquero did not see coming.
Just goes to show, when all else fails, use jiu-jitsu.
Moraes probably won’t get a rematch with Kairat Akhmetov just yet, he’ll need a few more victories to work his way back up.
The top tier opponents at flyweight include Andrew Leone and Koetsu Okazaki, but he’ll most likely face the winner of the Geje Eustaquio – Gianni Subba match this April.
#5 “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang
(def. Mohamed Ali by Guillotine Choke at 2:38 of round 1)
The Thuwunna Stadium was a chorus of cheers from a packed house chanting the name, “Aung La” to harmonious audiography.
In an exciting main event bout to cap off an amazing night of fights, the arena pulsated as Aung La went shot for shot with the brutish Mohamed Ali. In the end, hometown hero Aung La banked on his well-rounded skills to nab the victory over the Egyptian Wushu Sanda champion, with a Guillotine he affectionately called “The Python Choke”.
Aung La called out ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash in his post-fight interview and while he’s not expected to get a shot at the title so soon, there are a few fighters who should match up well with the Burmese fighter.
Former champion Igor Svirid should be available, and would be a great litmus test for Aung La. Tatsuya Mizuno and Sylvain Potard are also worthy candidates. But no matter who he faces one thing’s sure, Aung La is a hot ticket and he has definitely become a fighter to watch out for. – By Carlos Cinco
Follow this writer on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB