Promoted to the front page by Anton Tabuena
While most of the 7,000 or so fans in attendance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday night would have been content to just sit back and watch the show Ole Laursen was a frustrated spectator. He should have been starring in the main event but instead a knee injury forced him to watch One FC’s inaugural show from the comfort of the VIP seats.
The Filipino born fighter can only have been impressed by what he witnessed as an event which ran like clockwork was watched by a sold out crowd in Singapore and many more around the world on an internet stream.
The disappointment for Laursen is than an untimely knee injury put paid to his chances to actually participate but he can console himself with the thought that One FC’s first ever event was a spectacular success and it is only a matter of time until he finds himself center stage,
"I loved the event, it was fantastic and the place was jam packed. It’s been a while since I have seen the crowds in Asia like this and I see One FC taking over for sure. One FC has the potential to grow larger than even Pride in its glory days," he said.
This is high praise indeed coming from a man who has fought twice in Japan, against Caol Uno and Genki Sudo, and shared a card there with the likes of Yoshihiro Akiyama, Heath Herring and Melvin Manhoef.
Laursen owns the Legacy Gym in Northern Thailand and has previously featured on regional shows such as Martial Combat in Singapore and the Art of War in China as well as regularly sending fighters to appear on smaller domestic promotions such as Dare in Thailand, Legend in Hong Kong and PRO Fighting in Taiwan.
ONE Fighting Championship have not only created the kind of buzz which persuades 7,000 people to purchase a ticket but have also negotiated a broadcast deal with ESPN Star Sports as well as bringing in the necessary technology to stream their show live on the internet meaning that potentially millions of people will watch the fights.
Laursen, who has been a familiar figure on the MMA scene for years, feels like this is the opportunity he has been waiting for ever since he made his MMA debut in 2004 and is understandably frustrated at being forced to delay his One FC debut,
"I enjoyed watching the show but it was also frustrating, I realized I could have had this mad crowd cheering for me and I could have potentially got some of that extra fight award cash. I can’t wait to get in that cage in front of that crowd and put on fight of the night, KO of the night or sub of the night. Either way I’m getting that bonus," he said.
In a spontaneous show of generosity which won’t have gone unnoticed by any cash conscious fighters One FC CEO / Owner Victor Cui gave out no fewer than four $5,000 bonuses at the end of the night and Laursen was unsurprisingly licking his lips at the prospect of a potentially career high pay day.
He was not the only fighter enjoying the red carpet treatment in the VIP area. Indonesian featherweight Fransino Tirta, Japanese lightweight Akihiro Gono and American welterweight Ray Elbe were also in attendance and can only have been impressed by what they saw.
Gono and Tirta are widely tipped to sign soon and Elbe, a TUF veteran who fought twice for Martial Combat, would be an obvious addition to the One FC welterweight roster. Even if the fight between Laursen and Folayang doesn’t materialize there will certainly be no shortage of potential 155 lbs opponents or him to face,
"Vuyisile Colossa called me out after his fight. That was entertaining. He wants to get the One FC gold around his waist but if that chance is given to me it won’t matter who is in the cage with me because I will be taking that belt home myself. Zoro is getting better and better he can’t be overlooked as a contender. I think I would bust him up though and I would love to fight Gono," he said.
Eddie Ng also gave a very good account of himself and with so much strength at 155 lbs the One FC lightweight division is already starting to take shape. While it is probably premature to start taking about titles and title shots Folayang must have put himself at the front of the queue with the win over Kwon and Laursen already has his sights set on his fellow Filipino,
"Eduard did great, he fought smart. He came out hard first round and maintained insane pressure all the way through the fight. If I were to fight him I would need the same stamina in case I couldn’t finish him. I definitely saw holes in his game as I sat there and watched the fight though. I was sure before the fight that I could beat him and I am still sure now," he said.
Although Laursen is confident he could prevail in a fight with Folayang he also feels in hindsight that, as difficult as it was, the decision to withdraw from the fight was the right one,
"It took me almost a week to pull out because I was hoping I wouldn’t have to but I just would not have been able to train hard enough. Watching Eduard fight I realized that I made the right choice. I would have been slower and if it had gone the distance I would have gassed because of the limited training," he said.
The good news is that Laursen’s knee is healing fast and he should be fit and ready to fight one One FC’s second card,
"My knee is way better. I’m already training good again, doing my rehab and seeing my physio every day. I’m confident that I will be back 100% in one to two months from now and I will fight whoever One FC wants me to fight. I’m a fighter," he said.
The next One FC event is rumoured to be taking place in December although there is no information at present about which city or even which country the promotion will be heading to. After a great start in Singapore One FC is all set to take over Asia and Laursen is looking forward to being an integral part of the most exciting thing to happen to Asian MMA in almost a decade.
Regardless of whether it is against Folayang, Colossa, Moreira, Gono, Ng or any other of the other contenders currently linked with the promotion Laursen is desperate to make his One FC debut. With world class Muay Thai and a rapidly evolving ground game he would be a match for almost any lightweight in the world and it is a matter of when, not if, Ole Laursen makes his mark on the One FC lightweight division.