This past weekend, BloodyElbow.com was on deck at the Singapore Indoor Arena for ONE Fighting Championship's third event dubbed as the 'War of the Lions'. I've had more than 24 hours to let everything sink in, so here's a rundown on the thoughts and analysis from being in the arena live:
- This was by far their best fight card, but before we get to that, the most noticeable changes on their third event I think, were the big improvements they made with the overall production and live experience. The first two events already had good production value but the several adjustments they had made the difference for me.
From the big changes such as adding Lenne Hardt, to the dozens of small things like the modified press seating and the VIP lounge, the photographers' positioning and rotation, the ring girls and their roles -- I can go on and on -- but all those contributed in making the overall atmosphere and experience much better.
- Say what you want about the timing of the bout, but combining the styles of two of the most entertaining guys in the region is guaranteed fireworks, and that's exactly what Eduard Folayang and Ole Laursen brought. Both guys are known for getting into epic battles, but not only did they not disappoint, they even exceeded expectations, and stole the show after an all out war. A lot of people may not have agreed with Laursen getting the split decision, but in the end, it was a very close and extremely entertaining fight. In my eyes, both warriors won that night.
- Zorobabel Moreira impressed me a lot with his evolving Mixed Martial Arts game. Just a few fights ago, Zoro looked a bit awkward, and somewhat tentative with his striking, but now, he looks sharper, more crisp and confident with his strikes. Obviously, when it went to the ground, he displayed his bread and butter, which is that world class jiujitsu skills. Enomoto is a very good grappler in his own regard, but Zoro's passes and transitions on the third round was just beautiful jiujitsu. Having that 6'3 frame will always pose problems for lightweights, but his ever improving MMA game will make things even tougher. He has solidified himself as one of the top fighters in the region, and I think that's a testament with his work with all the champion coaches at Evolve MMA.
- Melvin Manhoef had a nasty cut. I really thought I saw his shin bone at one point.
- Moreira deserves a shot at that inaugural ONE FC lightweight belt. Some people would want to see a rematch between Laursen and Folayang, and while I wouldn't really be opposed to that, I think the time is right to set up a lightweight title fight. Zoro is obviously the best candidate, and since he just beat the top contender, a match against Laursen is the logical choice.
Both guys are coming off very impressive performances, and with Laursen possibly nearing the later stages of his career, there's no better time to do it.
More analysis, along with fight videos from the event after the jump. Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena
- Here's the video for Zorobabel Moreira vs. Felipe Enomoto:
- Kevin Belingon's aggressive instincts cost him big time. Imanari fell, and Belingon pounced much like he usually does, this time unnecessarily risking his leg by stepping in to follow the BJJ black belt to the ground. It was a huge test for the very young fighter from Team Lakay, and it will be interesting to see him learn and bounce back from this experience. That being said, I have to say, those were very beautiful transitions as Imanari chained several different submission attempts until he eventually finished with a reverse heel hook.
Watch the video here:
- Also, Shinya Aoki raising his hand on the cage and an ecstatic Imanari, celebrating and jumping up for a cage high-five was a pretty cool moment. Hopefully we see more of him and other DREAM stars in future ONE FC events.
- Speaking of DREAM fighters, Kawajiri looked great. Check out the video:
- Singaporeans Nicole Chua and Kim Hock Quek got the biggest cheers from the crowd after both fighters got impressive performances in front of their home country. Check out their fights below:
- Before the fight, one of the "things to look out for" I listed, was to see how much the two Evolve MMA fighters, Eddie Ng and Yodsanan Sityodtong has improved since the first event. Eddie, a fighter known more for his grappling, looked to have drastically improved, displayed great stand up against the Malaysian kickboxer.
- His 37-year-old teammate, Yodsanan Sityodtong wasn't able to fare as well though. He showed very dangerous striking and looked to almost have the fight won, but after Long Yun Jiang weathered the early storm, he exposed the holes in the former WBC boxing champ's game, and took over when things got to the ground.
- If you want to delve into the Laursen vs. Folayang decision more, it is very interesting to note that one of the judges on that bout is a Filipino who has officiated several URCC fights. He still gave the decision to Laursen, so there are really no biases or hidden agendas at play here. It was a very close fight on all fronts, and I can see legitimate cases for both guys being awarded the decision. In my personal opinion though, having watched the fight twice now both live and online, I thought Folayang did enough to win a decision after he landed more shots and more combinations. But again, it doesn't really matter, cause neither man really "lost" on that night.
Check out the fight here:
- Fabricio Monteiro vs. Yuya Shirai:
- I'll have a behind the scenes and event photo gallery post up soon, so do keep an eye out for that.