I just got back from the Singapore Indoor Arena where ONE FC hosted their first show dubbed as "Champion vs. Champion" in front of thousands of screaming fans. The presentation and the venue looked really good, the event ran smoothly, and more importantly, the fights were pretty fun. As expected from a debuting promotion, they did have a few tiny things to work on, but overall, it was an excellent first show, and the promotion showed a lot of promise.
It's past 3 a.m. here, and I'm pretty exhausted, but here's a brief rundown and recap of the event:
- Quite a few people thought that Eduard Folayang would take his opponent down and wear him out with ground and pound, but the Filipino almost unsurprisingly decided to just make things exciting by slugging it out. Folayang once again displayed a ton of heart. He broke his nose in the first round, and suffered a cut that was likely from the clash of heads. Bloody and battered, he didn't even think of out-wrestling his opponent and just decided to try and take Kwon's head off, eventually winning a dominant decision.
- Kwon complained a lot, but Matt Hume wasn't buying any of it. He also had fun taunting the crowd who, at first, didn't believe that he was hit on the groin. As soon as the replay was played showing Folayang's leg kick sliding up to his man parts, he started jumping around and laughed at the crowd.
- The Baroni vs. Yoshida fight went as expected. With those two guys, it was either going to be a quick KO win for Baroni, or Yoshida would win by controlling Baroni on the ground. Phil was able to rock his opponent at times, but for the most part, he was worn down and out-grappled for several minutes.
- Eric Kelly stole the show. Most of the people were banking on another win for Mitch Chilson and the guys at Evolve MMA, but the Filipino URCC champion landed some excellent shots and eventually sunk in an impressive standing rear naked choke as they were clinching. It was a nice moment when Kelly surprisingly won over the partisan Singapore crowd, and got huge cheers after a very good performance. Kelly remained unbeaten, making the case as one of the best featherweights in the region.
- Colossa is one of the best strikers in the region, and he proved just that by knocking out his opponent with a punch from his lead hand. One punch, and his opponent was KO'd in under a minute.
- Gregor Gracie dominated a very game Korean in Seok Mo Kim, who refused to be submitted and fended off dozens of attempts from the BJJ expert.
- Zoro, as expected, dominated TUF Alum, Andy Wang. The two BJJ blackbelts decided to test their stand up against each other, and it was Moreira winning all the exchanges by controlling range by effectively using his reach advantage, and landing devastating elbows every time they clinched. Highlight of the fight was the huge spinning elbow, and those massive knees that kept landing on Wang's midsection as he was turtled up.
- Evolve MMA members Eddie Ng, Radeem Rahman, and Yodsanan Sidyotong, as expected, dominated their respective opponents. Singapore's Rahman drew the most cheers from the hometown crowd, as he dominated
- The Evolve Fight Team, who are based in Singapore, went 5-1 on the event. I was perfect on my ONE FC predictions, and from an excellent event that really delivered, this is where my only criticism comes from. The top three bouts were pretty evenly matched, more or less, but the rest of the supporting bouts were fairly easy to predict. Colossa, Gracie, and the rest of the Evolve guys all brought exciting victories, and they're all obviously very talented. After their impressive performances, hopefully they step up the ladder and we get to see ONE FC set them up against the stiffer competition that they deserve.
- Overall, it was an excellent first show. The promotion is doing the right moves, and they are showing tremendous promise as the front runners in Asian MMA.
Those are my initial thoughts as the night ended. I will have a few more notes, photos and coverage in the coming days so stay tuned for that.