ONE Championship looks to kick off the new year in style. ONE: QUEST FOR POWER is set to hit the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia on 14 January, and the blockbuster event will feature one of the biggest middleweight bouts in the promotion’s history.
In the main event, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash of Russia will make his highly-anticipated return to the ONE Championship cage, defending his title for the first time against Myanmar national hero the “Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang.
It is a matchup of epic proportions, one that is sure to have both Russian MMA fans and Aung La’s incredible fan base in Yangon worked up.
Aside from the colossal main event matchup, a series of compelling supporting bouts have also been put together. Let’s take a look at what’s at stake for the fighters of ONE: QUEST FOR POWER.
Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen
Nguyen challenged reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov back in September of 2015 on just three days’ notice, and while the Russian made quick and easy work of the Australian-Vietnamese fighter, Nguyen has only improved since then.
Nguyen is currently riding an impressive three-fight stoppage win streak, and is on an absolute tear right now. It seems the loss to Gafurov did well to light a fire underneath him, and all he can really think of is how he can get another shot at the title, this time on his own terms.
In perhaps Nguyen’s most critically-acclaimed performance, the “Situ-Asian” trumped 18-year-old featherweight prospect Christian “The Warrior” Lee of Evolve MMA last August, putting the youngster to sleep with a modified guillotine choke that earned a spot on ONE Championship’s list of top submissions in 2016.
Now, Nguyen is set to face Japanese MMA veteran Kazunori Yokota at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER.
Yokota’s experience in the cage is clearly his best asset, having amassed a stellar 25-6-3 record spanning over a decade as a professional mixed martial artist, including a 13-fight, five-year win streak. As such, Yokota will represent one of the toughest matchups in Nguyen’s young career.
If Nguyen can get past Yokota, whose last bout came against Gafurov for the title, Nguyen could perceivably earn another date with his Russian conqueror. Of course, it all depends on how Nguyen can perform against a proven talent in Yokota, and if he has what it takes to win.
For Yokota, it’s a chance to earn his first victory in ONE Championship, after his promotional debut didn’t exactly go as he had planned, and show that his first loss to Gafurov was due to weight issues as he says.
Anthony “Archangel” Engelen
Dutch-Indonesian featherweight Anthony Engelen has done well inside the ONE Championship cage since joining the promotion in 2015. The experience he has gathered in matchups against solid contenders over the last two years has given him a good feel for the competition inside ONE’s blossoming featherweight ranks.
The 31-year-old is coming off an impressive victory over Egypt’s Sami Amin in his last bout, earning the finish in the second round via rear-naked choke submission. He is set to take on Malaysian MMA veteran and coach, AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor.
Lias Mansor is coming off over three years’ break from professional competition. He is largely responsible for training Ann “Athena” Osman, serving as the Malaysian star’s head coach. Lias Mansor’s last appearance inside the ONE Championship cage was a unanimous decision victory over countryman Melvin Yeoh for the ONE Malaysia Featherweight Tournament Championship.
However, the focus will definitely be on Engelen, who is one of Indonesia’s most promising featherweights. Engelen owns five victories as a professional, with three wins by submission and one by scintillating knockout. He has already faced the likes of Christian Lee, Rocky Batolbatol, and Bruno Pucci.
A victory here would put Engelen on a small two-fight win streak, but it could also land him another big fight down the road.
Vincent “Magnivincent” Latoel
Indonesia’s mixed martial arts favorite Vincent Latoel has experienced a slight dip as of late, with two heartbreaking setbacks to Japan’s Kotetsu Boku and the Philippines’ Edward Kelly, but he has held his head high and continues to soldier on through adversity.
The 37-year-old mixed martial arts veteran is the country’s most experienced MMA fighter with a solid record of 16-18-2. Impressively, out of his 16 total victories, seven have come by submission and seven more by knockout.
Latoel can be described as a crafty striker with the grappling knowledge and ability to outwork opponents on the mats. His victories over Arnaud LePont and Eddie Ng are his most impressive, as he was able to knock out both foes with his heavy hands.
Latoel is a mainstay of ONE Championship events in Jakarta, being a full-blooded ethnic Indonesian after his parents migrated to the Netherlands. He is scheduled to face Filipino fighter Vaughn Donayre next, and while Donayre himself has also had a rough start to his ONE Championship career, Latoel is still considered the favorite to win the matchup due to his experience and home advantage.
Win or lose, Latoel will continue to represent Indonesia as best as he can while he is still able to compete as a professional. Regardless of how his most recent bouts have gone, Latoel remains a tough matchup for any opponent, and his bout against Donayre could prove to be a sleeper hit.
Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev
One of ONE Championship’s top prospects to watch out for in 2017, a lot is riding on Saygid Guseyn “Dagi” Arslanaliev’s performance against Bulgarian MMA veteran Georgi Stoyanov.
Although Arslanaliev has a mere four wins on his professional MMA record to begin his career, he has definitely impressed many with his exceptional performances, although nobody has seen much of him in the first place.
Arslanaliev has averaged around a minute of cage time, with all of his wins coming in the first round. His first three victories ended in jaw-dropping knockouts. In his most recent victory, Arslanaliev showed fans that he could grapple too, winning by standing guillotine choke over Chinese fighter Haolan Jietebusibai.
Against Stoyanov at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER, Arslanaliev faces somewhat of a step up in competition. Stoyanov owns a solid 19-11 record, but has largely competed in his home country of Bulgaria as well as recently in Russian promotion M-1.
Stoyanov owns 11 submission victories and one by knockout, so he should be able to test Arslanaliev’s grappling in this one, provided he gets past the Russian’s heavy hands and fast start.
If Arslanaliev can defeat Stoyanov, it will indicate his readiness to reach the next step of his budding career. But for now, as good as Arslanaliev has been inside the ONE Championship cage, we have yet to see him against worthy opposition.
Stoyanov represents Arslanaliev’s toughest test to date and rightfully so. Fans will get to witness just how good “Dagi” is, and if he is ready for the big leagues.