On Saturday night, I got the chance to attend my first ONE Fight Championship (ONE FC) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. ONE FC was only started last year, with its inaugural event held on 3 September in Singapore, also at the Indoor Stadium. Since then, it has gone to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. There was even an ONE Asia MMA Summit held at Marina Bay Sands in June.
Combining all aspects of martial arts, the interest in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been growing fast and professionally, MMA has picked up explosively in the region, with the ONE FC hosting Asia’s largest MMA events. MMA is a full contact combat sport that uses techniques from all types of martial arts to spar standing up or on the ground.
In a previous interview with Victor Cui, CEO and owner of ONE FC, he told me, “I am 100 per cent confident that our events will just keep getting bigger. My goal is to make the sport of MMA the biggest sport in Asia and have ONE FC lead the way. I am committed to putting on the best shows that sports fans have ever seen, bring on board the best fighters and create the ultimate MMA experience. I will drive myself and the company at 1,000km per hour until that vision becomes a reality. When we are able to capture the hearts and minds of the 3.9 billion people living in Asia and have them tune in to our event on TV or online, then we know that we have made it.”
Combat and self-defence is in the DNA of the ONE FC. Regardless of race, language and age, ONE FC gives professional athletes the opportunity to showcase their talents and athleticism on the grandest stage in all of Asia.
This is the third time that ONE FC is being held at the Indoor Stadium and for the first time, two ONE FC World Championship titles were given out. There were nine fights that night:
Basically, each fight (or each bout as it is called) consists of three five-minute rounds, with a one-minute break in between rounds. The Championship fights have five five-minute rounds.
Ways to win a fight include:
> Knockout (KO)
> Verbal tapout
> Technical knockout by referee stoppage (TKO)
> Cornerman requests a stoppage
Fighters are not allowed to deliver stomps to the head, head butt, pull hair, gouge eyes, insert orifice, spit or grab onto the cage fence. You can read more of the rules here.
Before this, I have only watched ONE FC on TV, so I was eager to watch it ‘live’ this time. Being there and feeling the atmosphere is a lot different from lying on the couch at home with the remote in your hand.
The first match was between Mitch Chilson of Evolve MMA and Indonesian Ngabdi Mulyadi of Lindu Aji Fighting Club.
Mitch, who is an instructor in Muay Thai and MMA at Evolve MMA, once said, “The general public does not understand what kind of athlete the modern mixed martial artist has become. To engage in MMA is to become a master of all aspects of martial arts. At the competitive level, an MMA athlete on average trains in multiple martial arts for four to six hours a day, and then has additional training in strength and conditioning on top of a highly restricted diet.”
Mitch defeated Ngabdi by TKO (punches) after 1:03 min of Round 2.
The next fight was between Malaysian Gianni Subba of Monarchy MMA and Singaporean Bruce Loh of Impact MMA, who replaced an injured Radeem Rahman. This was a really quick match as Gianni took Bruce out with a KO (soccer kick) after just 33 seconds into Round 1.
The Bantamweight Grand Prix was up next, with the first of three fights between Filipino Kevin Belingon of Team Lakay and Russian Yusup Saadulaev of Top Team Fight Club.
Yusup was defeated by Kevin with a TKO (punches) at 3:18 min of Round 1.
The next fight of the Bantanweight Grand Prix was between Korean Min Jung Song of Ilsan Team Max and Japanese Masakatsu Ueda of Paraestra Tokyo.
They battled to the end of three rounds and the judges’ unanimous decision for the winner went to Masakatsu. See how disappointed Min looked!
The Bantanweight Grand Prix’s last fight was between 20-year-old Chinese Zhao Ya Fei of Extreme Sanda and American Jens Pulver of Team Extreme. Jens is a former UFC Lightweight Champion and has a lot more experience than Ya Fei. During the course of the fight, Ya Fei delivered a kick into Jens’ groin, sending Jens to the ground grabbing his groin in immense pain. Jens was unable to continue the fight and had to be brought out of the cage on a stretcher. The judges’ unanimous decision for the winner went to Jens, as the kick-in-the-balls by Ya Fei was deemed illegal.
Next up was the fight between Dutchman Melvin ‘No Mercy’ Manhoef of Mike’s Gym and Japanese Ryo Kawamura of Pancraseism. Ryo had this annoying swaying and the two of them were circling the cage for quite a while, with hardly any action. Someone from the stands even shouted “Start the fight!”
Melvin maintained his strong focus and finally at 4:40 min (of Round 1), he swiftly delivered a punch and knocked Ryo out.
The first ONE FC World Championship title fight was up next – the Bantamweight World Championship title fight between Korean Soo Chul Kim of Team Force and Brazilian Leandro Issa.
Soo is only 20 years of age, but he has had 10 MMA fights already. Leandro, on the other hand, is a BJJ black belt and BJJ world champion. He has won his last seven straight fights and is unbeaten inside the ONE FC cage… that is, until this fight against Soo.
Soo landed a hard right hand, knocking Leandro to the canvas and then finishing him off with a series of strikes at just 15 seconds into Round 2 to become the first ONE FC Bantamweight World Champion.
The other World Championship title fight was the Lightweight World Championship title fight between Japanese Kotetsu Boku of Krazy Bee and Brazilian Zorobabel Moreira of Evolve MMA. Kotetsu is a Shooto Champion and is currently ranked the top Japanese lightweight fighter. He came into this fight with five wins out of his last six fights.
Kotetsu and Zoro were going at each other…
…until the third round when Kotetsu managed to land a series of right hands to take Zoro out at 1:02 min by TKO.
The last fight of the night was the Super Fight between Frenchman Arnaud ‘The Game’ Lepont of Muayfit and Japanese Shinya Aoki of Evolve MMA. Aoki is a DREAM lightweight champion, while Arnaud is a French MMA champion who recently beat Aoki’s Evolve MMA team-mate Brian Choi. I love this introduction video of them that totally sets the tone for the fight, with the super confident (or some might say, cocky) Arnaud pitched against strong and silent Aoki.
Entering the cage on all fours, Arnaud’s love-or-hate attitude was further witnessed when he drew out a ‘Beating Aoki for Dummies’ book during the fighter introduction.
Photo credit: ONE FC
Alas, it was Aoki who silenced Arnaud with a triangle choke submission, ending the fight after 1:25 min into Round 1.
Photo credit: ONE FC
The full-house crowd is amazing it was a really interactive crowd. Spectators groan for the fighters who get punched, boo at fighters who deliver illegal techniques, cheer their favourites on, shout comments like “Go Kimchi!” and go wild on their feet when the fighter takes the win.
Photo credit: ONE FC
The next ONE FC event is tentatively scheduled for Kuala Lumpur on 1 December. I want to go back for more!
View more of my ONE FC: Rise of Kings Singapore 2012 photos here.
Official results for ONE FC: RISE OF KINGS:
Super Fight card
Shinya Aoki defeats Arnaud Lepont by triangle choke submission at 1:25 minutes of round 1
Lightweight Title card
Kotetsu Boku defeats Zorobabel Moreira by TKO at 1:02 minutes of round 3
Bantamweight Title card
Soo Chul Kim defeats Leandro Issa by KO at 15 seconds of round 2
Melvin Manhoef defeats Ryo Kawamura by KO at 4:40 minutes of round 1
Bantamweight Grand Prix
Jens Pulver defeats Zhao Ya Fei by unanimous decision of round 3
Masakatsu Ueda defeats Min Jung Song by unanimous decision at 3:00 minutes of round 3
Kevin Belingon defeats Yusup Saadulaev by TKO at 3:18 minutes of round 1
Gianni Subba defeats Bruce Loh by KO at 33 seconds of round 1
Mitch Chilson defeats Ngabdi Mulyadi by TKO at 3:57 minutes of round 2