Malaysia was treated to a spectacle Friday night, as six homegrown mixed martial arts talents emerged victorious in their respective bouts at ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS.
The Stadium Negara, site of many epic ONE Championship cards in the past, once again roared with excitement as modern-day warriors took to the ONE Championship cage.
Like we do for every ONE Championship card, we now take a look at some of the movers and shakers after such a memorable event. Let’s check out what could be next for some of the winners of ONE: THRONE OF TIGERS.
Ev “E.T.” Ting
Now 3-0 at lightweight, Ev Ting is slowly but surely carving a niche out in his new division. The 27-year-old Malaysian-Kiwi sensation, who lives and trains out of Auckland, New Zealand, has now strung together four straight wins since his first round loss to ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov in 2015.
He stepped into the cage Friday night and took care of business against a tough, world-class competitor in Kamal Shalorus, however, scoring perhaps his biggest victory yet. Riding a wave of momentum, he used his time in the post-fight interview wisely and called out reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the Philippines.
Folayang won the title in a scintillating knockout performance last November, dethroning Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki to take the title. He is scheduled to make the first defense of his belt at home in Manila this April, but an opponent has yet to be announced.
There is a strong inclination towards Ting now moving on to face Folayang for the title in Manila, and Malaysian fans couldn’t be more excited.
“Eduard Folayang, April 21st, you already know I’m coming to get your belt,” said Ting in the cage.
Folayang, who watched the card from back home in Baguio City, welcomed the challenge and offered a simple counter rhetoric: “That’s where he’s wrong.”
A Folayang vs Ting bout in Manila would be huge, given the two fighters’ rabid following. Ting is undoubtedly the biggest star in Malaysia right now, and a bout against Folayang would be a battle between two national heroes. If the fight gets made, it would also be a great first defense for Folayang, who sits at the top of a deep lightweight division.
However, if a bout against Folayang cannot be made, there are other lightweight contenders waiting patiently in the wings. Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton immediately comes to mind, as well as Australian battler Adrian Pang and Japanese grappler Tetsuya Yamada.
And of course, you can never count out former champion Shinya Aoki, who would love nothing more than to claw his way back to having his hands around the title.
Agilan “Alligator” Thani
21-year-old Agilan “Alligator” Thani made a huge statement last Friday night, putting the entire welterweight division on notice with a tremendous performance against Chinese Taipei’s Jeff “The Machine” Huang. The young Malaysian prospect impressed with his wrestling and grappling skills, stifling Huang with effortless transitions and overpowering him in the clinch.
The victory earned Thani his seventh straight finish in as many professional fights, and has really placed the spotlight on his blossoming career. Undoubtedly one of Malaysia’s top MMA representatives at the moment, Thani’s achievements in the ONE Championship cage are undeniable. Many fans, including Thani himself, have brought up the idea of a title shot.
Malaysian fans believe Thani has earned a shot at the ONE Welterweight World Championship, currently held by undefeated American wrestler Ben “Funky” Askren. Thani’s performances have certainly built towards to that potential bout, but Askren himself feels the fight would not be competitive.
“That Alligator ain’t got no teeth,” Tweeted Askren, in response to a possible bout against Thani.
Askren stated in his post-fight interview that if the fight was offered to him, he would accept without question as he is not one to turn down any fights. Askren is currently scheduled to return to the ONE Championship cage this April in Manila, but no opponent has been announced. Thani is willing to step in and give the champion a fight if the promotion goes down that route.
However, although Thani is a tremendous wrestler and grappler, there is a world of difference between going to the mat with Jeff Huang and going to the mat with a world-class wrestler the likes of Askren.
If ONE Championship matchmakers feel Thani isn’t ready for a shot at the title just yet, there are other welterweights who should be willing to push the youngster further. Top contenders Bakhtiyar Abbasov or the hulkish Luis Santos would be great litmus tests for Thani before a potential title shot.
Ann “Athena” Osman
Ann Osman has made good on her promise so far to win all of her fights in 2017, beginning with a comprehensive TKO victory over Cambodia’s Vy Srey Khouch.
The 30-year-old Osman is 5-3 inside the ONE Championship cage, and has captivated the Malaysian audience since her professional debut in 2013. Although Osman has experienced a mixed bag of results so far in her career, there is no doubt that her work ethic and skill level are definitely among the top of the talent pool.
The women’s strawweight division is still in development, with a lot of competitors honing their skills as they go along. With a total of eight bouts in professional fight experience, Osman is a senior talent, and is leading the charge with her unparalleled charisma and undying will to win.
One of the most important factors of Osman’s success is her focus on improving herself after each and every fight, and it shows. Whether it is wrestling, striking, or BJJ, Osman has shown stark improvement in each area as her career goes along.
The victory over Vy Srey was crucial, as it brings Osman back to the win column with another highlight-reel finish. Her last bout didn’t go exactly as planned as she was submitted by April Osenio at home.
Now with the win, Osman will look for another big victory in her next bout, most likely in Kuala Lumpur once more.
It was an inspirational victory for 22-year-old Malaysian featherweight Keanu Subba, one that signified his departure from prospect status to contender. Subba is one of the most talented young warriors to come out of Kuala Lumpur, and had conquered Malaysia’s amateur MMA scene by becoming a MIMMA Featherweight Champion.
This earned him a place on the ONE Championship roster, and Subba quickly made his presence known, railing off three first-round stoppages out of four bouts in the promotion.
Against Ahmed Mujtaba last Friday night, a fellow top Asian MMA prospect who came into the bout with an unblemished record, Subba signified his arrival to the big leagues. Subba completely outclassed Mujtaba in every aspect, getting the better of the Pakistani fighter in striking exchanges while besting him in the grappling department.
By the middle of the first, Mujtaba was already ripe for the picking and Subba authored one of the most exciting submission finishes of his young career — a guillotine choke that literally took Mujtaba’s breath away.
Subba is certainly ready for some big fights, and the featherweight division is teeming with talent. A long-overdue showdown with Singapore’s Christian Lee remains on the cards, as does a rematch with China’s Li Kai Wen. Guys like Kotetsu Boku and Australia’s Jordan Lucas are also great matchups for the Malaysian star.
Tiffany “Soul Crusher” Teo
27-year-old female Singaporean star Tiffany Teo continues to impress in the promotion with her second victory inside the ONE Championship cage.
Nicknamed “Soul Crusher”, Teo sheds her girl-next-door persona whenever she goes to battle. Inside the cage she’s a woman possessed, showcasing skills she has crafted at Juggernaut Fight Club under the watchful eye of veteran coach Arvind Lalwani.
Teo took on the debuting Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol, a former wushu sanda champion from Indonesia, and she once again delivered a captivating performance, stifling Gaol with her complete skill set for three whole rounds.
The ceiling is definitely high for Teo, who has now won her fifth straight. Just a year ago, Teo was competing in local promotions and had not yet faced the bright lights of ONE Championship. Now, she is rapidly growing to become Singapore’s next star, behind ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee.
If Teo can continue to win in exciting fashion, her fan following will continue to grow as her star rises. The talent level is certainly there and the work ethic is evident.
Ultimately a showdown with Ann Osman to reprise the Singapore-Malaysia rivalry could be further up the road for Teo. A few more victories over some solid opponents should bring Teo up to the level of Osman very soon, and what a matchup that would be.