ONE Championship returns to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this Friday, 10 February, for another epic evening of mixed martial arts action with ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS.
For its first show in Malaysia this year, ONE is putting up a fight card with a series of compelling fights that should have MMA fans in Asia suitably pumped up for.
If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you should watch some MMA on a Friday night, here are three matchups that you absolutely must catch at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS.
#1 Keanu Subba Vs Ahmed Mujtaba
With the exception of a minor slip against fellow rising star Li Kai Wen in July of 2016, 22-year-old Keanu Subba is a winner of four of his last five bouts. Impressively, all of his victories have come by thrilling finish, which has earned him a spot among the top prospects in Asian MMA. Subba is immensely talented, and at such a young age has already amassed some solid fight experience under his belt.
He comes up against undefeated 6-0 Pakistani Ahmed Mujtaba, who shocked fans in his most recent bout and ONE debut, when he trumped highly-regarded prospect Benedict Ang of Evolve MMA.
Mujtaba was expected to meet a determined Ang, who was looking to level up his career with a statement victory, but “The Wolverine” instead showcased his well-rounded striking and grappling chops. Ang had no answer for Mujtaba’s complete skill set — Mujtaba was simply stronger, faster, and more skilled.
With all eyes at the center of the cage this Friday night, Subba vs Mujtaba represents an intriguing battle of top young prospects in ONE Championship. If Mujtaba can perform the way he did against Ang last November, Subba will have his work cut out for him on fight night. Nevertheless, it should be a very entertaining bout. Both guys like to finish, so don’t expect the fight to last very long.
The “Alligator” Vs “The Machine”
21-year-old Agilan “Alligator” Thani is one of Asian MMA’s top prospects. He is unbeaten at 6-0, with all six of his fights ending in highlight-reel fashion. The gifted youngster is a fixture in ONE’s Malaysian fight cards, and has quickly built a solid fan-following in his hometown of Kuala Lumpur.
One knock on his rise, however, is the fact that he has yet to face a top-ranked opponent. That will all change this Friday night, when Thani takes on Taiwanese welterweight star Jeff “The Machine” Huang.
Equally as talented and with an established career, Huang will look to pit his skills against Thani. Both guys are fast starters, with all but one of their combined victories coming in the very first round.
It’s a matchup that has the potential to be fight of the night, because both guys are intent on finishing things early. While Huang likes to end affairs on the feet, Thani tries to utilize his wrestling and grappling more — skills he’s honed while working on his ground game in the United States.
With a matchup as close as this one is on paper, it’s hard to tell how the fight will go. Only the fighters will be able to decide the outcome, with two of the top welterweight talents in ONE Championship set for an epic battle.
Ev Ting and Kamal Shalorus’ Quest For Gold
The last time we saw Ev Ting in the ONE Championship cage was at ONE: UNBREAKABLE WARRIORS, which turned out to be a very memorable card. More importantly, a star was born.
Competing in his first contest at lightweight, Ting emerged from an extremely tough and grueing battle against Australia’s Rob Lisita as a top player in ONE Championship’s stacked lightweight division. The Malaysian-Kiwi sensation is undoubtedly talented, but he will have his hands full against the veteran Kamal Shalorus.
Ting is talented enough to make a good run at lightweight, after enjoying success as a featherweight. His victory over Lisita certainly proves he also has the willpower and determination necessary to persevere in a stacked division.
However, Shalorus is a battle-tested veteran who has only lost to some of the best in the world, including former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki. Interestingly, Shalorus previously defeated current kingpin Eduard Folayang on his ONE Championship debut, setting up an interesting potential storyline should he prevail on Friday night.
The Iranian is also one of the best wrestlers in the division, which is evident given his sparkling credentials include a British national championship. The quality of the opposition thus far in his career is also arguably tougher than Ting’s
Needless to say, this is a bout with serious implications for the future of the ONE Lightweight World Championship.