ONE: ‘Unstoppable Dreams’ Preview (Pt. 2)
ONE: ‘Unstoppable Dreams’ looks set to be one of the biggest events in the region this year. The top half of the card is star studded and features some of the biggest names from the world of Muay Thai as well as MMA.
The Singaporean fans will be cheering for siblings Angela and Christian Lee as they look to make history by defending and winning titles respectively. Meanwhile Martin Nguyen narrowly missed out on becoming the promotion’s first three division champion and remains one of its biggest stars.
This is my preview of the top half of the card. For part one click here.
170lbs.: Shinya Aoki vs Rasul Yakhyaev
It was a surprise when Shinya Aoki (39-8-0-1) was stopped by Eduard Folayang although the loss to Ben Askren was a bit more predictable. He’s coming off back to back losses for the first time in his entire career, although the Japanese grappling wizard did finish Marat Gafurov in a submissions only bout.
Rasul Yakhyaev (11-6) looks like a wrestler and is coming off a decision win over Shannon Wiratchai. He won’t find Aoki such an accommodating opponent and it would be a surprise if the Japanese fighter didn’t win this by submission
160lbs.: Yodsaenklai Fairtex vs Chris Ngimbi
During his days as a star at the Bangkok stadiums Yodsaenklai Fairtex was known for his intelligence. Since becoming an international star the Thai southpaw has been more renowned for his punching power and devastating left kicks.
These tools should serve him extremely well in Caged Muay Thai (CMT). Chris Ngimbi loses more fights than he wins these days and it would be a major upset if he got anything out of this, although he’s good enough to go the distance with Yodsaenklai.
155lbs.: Martin Nguyen (c) vs Christian Lee (for featherweight title)
The last time Martin Nguyen (10-2) met Christian Lee (9-1) the teenager was possibly guilty of overconfidence. He pushes forwards and appeared to have the Australian hurt but left himself too open and walked into a left hand.
Lee knows that he can hurt Nguyen, but the champion knows he can knock out the challenger. I don’t see either fighter being overly cautious here, I think they will both back themselves to win a fire fight.
135lbs.: Sam-A Gaiyanghadao vs Sergio Wielzen (for inaugural Muay Thai flyweight title)
Last weekend one of Thailand’s top fighters, Panpayak Jitmuangnon, got knocked out in a minute in a bare knuckle style match. It just goes to show how dangerous a Muay Thai fight becomes when the gloves are removed, or reduced.
Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is a clever southpaw with a heavy left kick but he has never been known for his punching power. Sergio Wielzen is much taller and has some impressive KO wins on his record, so this could be interesting.
115lbs.: Angela Lee (c) Vs Mei Yamaguchi (for atomweight title)
The first time Angela Lee (8-0) and Mei Yamaguchi (17-10-1) fought they produced one of the greatest WMMA matches of all time. Since then both fighters have won two fights and earned BJJ black belts.
Lee has a huge reach advantage but, on the basis of the first fight at least, Yamaguchi is the superior striker. Given how many submissions attempts she survived in the first fight the champion probably won’t be worried about spending time on the ground.
That’s not to say Yamaguchi isn’t dangerous with submissions, but her greatest threat is probably the right hand which sent Lee crashing to the ground in the first fight. I suspect the champion will look for takedowns right from the offset here.
Given that Lee is 14 years the younger you would expect her improvement curve to be sharper. But Yamaguchi has traveled all over the world to train and has got two wins to her name since her opponent last set foot in the ONE cage.
Given how much time has elapsed since the first meeting it’s difficult to predict how similar the rematch will be. Both fighters clearly have huge hearts as well as the ability to finish a fight in an instant so this could turn out to be another war.
The entire ONE: ‘Unstoppable Dreams’ card will be available to view live and free using the newly launched app which you can download here. The first four fights will also be live on facebook and twitter.