As the rumor mill continues to churn with stories with regards to possible match-ups that will take place at ONE FC 9: Rise to Power, here are a couple of bouts that have already been lined up for the event.
The 9th installment of the Singapore-based promotion will take place on May 31st at the Mall of Asia Arena situated in Pasay, Philippines. And just like ONE FC 8: Kings & Champions, the entire fight card for ONE FC 9: Rise to Power is expected to air ‘LIVE’ on Star Sports in Asia. Fans from around the world can also witness the action online via live streaming at www.onefc.livesport.tv. The first two undercard fights are available for viewing free-of-charge and the main card fights will be available for purchase at just US$9.99.
1. Andrew Leone vs. Geje Eustaquio
Phuket Top Team, one of Asia’s most prominent MMA gyms, announced via its Facebook page that rising Flyweight star Andrew Leone had signed a deal with ONE Fighting Championship, and that the American native is set to make his promotional debut at the aforementioned ONE FC 9 event. Andrew, of course, is the younger brother of current Bellator MMA fighter, Anthony Leone. Andrew is currently 6-2 in his professional MMA career, and holds wins over the likes of Kyung Ho Kang and Soo Chul Kim. After competing in Bantamweight for the majority of his career, Leone will finally be able to strut his skills in ONE FC’s 125-lbs division.
Welcoming Leone to the organization will be Team Lakay’s Geje Eustaquio (4-1). With wins over World Champions Alex Silva and Rene Catalan, Eustaquio undoubtedly poses a threat to Andrew Leone. The Filipino fighter has also competed in the Pacific Xtreme Combat and the URCC. Although Eustaquio will be having the support of his country, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the grappling prowess of Leone.
2. Kevin Belingon vs. Masakatsu Ueda (ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix Final)
Kevin Belingon used the the Facebook platform and announced that he will be fighting on May 31st in ONE FC’s Bantamweight Grand Prix finals. Belingon gained his ticket to the finals after a stellar performance over Vietnamese-born Thanh Vu at ONE FC 8: Kings & Champions in Singapore. Standing opposite the Filipino fighter in the cage will be Japanese veteran, Masakatsu Ueda. Ueda is a former 1-time Bellator MMA competitor, who booked his place in the finals following a methodical submission victory over former UFC Lightweight champion, Jens Pulver.
Belingon may have the backing of the crowd, however, it’s Ueda’s style and approach to his fights that may pose Belingon some problems.
3. Bibiano Fernandes vs. Koetsu Okazaki
The next confirmed match-up sees former DREAM title-holder Bibiano Fernandes (13-3) going up against Shooto veteran, Koetsu Okazaki (8-2-1). The former was last seen competing at DREAM 18, where he recorded a 1st round submission victory over Yoshiro Maeda. Fernandes has been a top ranked Bantamweight fighter in the MMA scene for a while now, suffice to say with his capture of DREAM’s 145-lbs and 135-lbs straps.
Koetsu Okazaki, in the meantime, will be making his first appearance under the ONE FC banner, and will do so after having his 3-fight win streak snapped in his last outing at Shooto – 5th Round. Okazaki has not fought in professional MMA competition for about a year, and it remains to be seen if cage rust will become a factor in his promotional debut with Fernandes. This will also be Okazaki toughest fight to date.
ONE FC officials have confirmed that this fight will be for the interim Bantamweight strap, since the current champ, Soo Chul Kim, will be out of action for an indefinite period of time.
4. Honorio Banario vs. Koji Oishi (For ONE FC Featherweight strap)
Reigning ONE FC Featherweight champion and Team Lakay native Honorio Banario (8-1) shocked the world in his last ONE FC appearance when he garnered the 145-lbs strap after defeating Muayfit’s Eric Kelly. Kelly was a top contender for a reason, and went into the championship bout with his professional MMA record unscathed. Banario, however, managed to upset the odds, and will now be looking to make his first title defense in front of his home country.
Koji Oishi (23-9-10), though, is no slouch by any standards. The former Lightweight King of Pancrase has faced some of the best in the business including Chris Lytle, Carlos Condit and both of the Diaz brothers. The former UFC veteran and 1-time Legend FC competitor is 2-1-2 in his past 5 outings, and unbeaten in his last 3.
A Lightweight tilt pitting Kamal Shalorus (7-3-2) and Eduard Folayang (12-3-0) has also been tapped for the event, however, the bout is yet to be officially announced by the promotion.
Keep it locked to MMASucka.com for more news and updates regarding ONE FC 9: Rise to Power.
As it stands, here’s the updated fight card:
- Honorio Banario vs. Koji Oishi (For ONE FC Featherweight strap)
- Bibiano Fernandes vs. Koetsu Okazaki (For Interim ONE FC Bantamweight strap)
- Kevin Belingon vs. Masakatsu Ueda (ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix Final) – *Not Officially Announced
- Kamal Shalorus vs. Eduard Folayang – *Not Officially Announced
- Andrew Leone vs. Geje Eustaquio – *Not Officially Announced