ONE: DEFENDING HONOR’s epic rematch for ONE Featherweight gold as seen by ONE Championship lead commentator and Fox Sports Presenter Steve Dawson
The rematch between Narantugalag Jadambaa and Marat Gafurov at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Friday gives us a great opportunity to see history perhaps repeat itself.
The fourth-round stoppage from their first fight had a basic pattern that’s likely to continue without much variation in the Lion City, and that is good news for all of us.
The relentless stalking and high-speed, two-handed, two-legged attack unleashed by Jadambaa was a thrill to watch. The Mongolian is the aggressor by nature, but that was ultimately his undoing in their first encounter.
By ducking under a steaming overhand right, Gafurov was able to use his quick mind and feet to step to the side, grab Jadambaa’s back, and reel off a series of ground attacks that ultimately led to a technical submission with only one of these thrilling combatants still conscious.
Although Jadambaa (12-4) will want a different result this time around, it is hard to see him changing his game plan. At times, Gafurov looked a punch away from being out on his feet.
If Jadambaa can avoid the kind of critical mistake that led to his downfall last time, there is every reason to believe that despite regular ground assaults, he could win this rematch on points or by knockout.
But Gafurov is so highly-skilled that the danger he emits is ever present, as many have found to their cost. His unbeaten (14-0) record has come about by beating some of the toughest, most skillful and experienced fighting men on the planet.
As if the scalp of Jadambaa wasn’t impressive enough, add Ev Ting, Martin Nguyen, and Rob Lisita to the list of beaten men who’ve crossed his path.
Jadambaa has an equally impressive beat sheet. Adrian Pang, Honorio Banario, Eric Kelly, Koji Oishi, and Kotetsu Boku have all tasted defeat at the hands of the Team Tungaa featherweight.
While I cannot see Jadambaa slowing down by design, I wonder if his choice in the matter will be restricted. The human buzzsaw will be 41 next month, and if his unforgiving pace has been key to his victories, how long can it be before things start to slow down?
Will he realize the approach of Father Time and adjust his approach? Will he rage forward regardless and keep on pressing? Or will the pace start to tell in the championship rounds and become his downfall?
If I had to select one, I’d choose the last scenario. Gafurov is a master of patience and execution, just the man to wait out the inevitable onslaught. But he had better keep that chin tucked away in the interim.
Steve Dawson is ONE Championship’s lead commentator, a Fox Sports presenter and an author of sporting biographies. He can be found on Twitter & Instagram as @Gulasahi and on Facebook as Steve Dawson.