Thursday, September 17, 2015

2 Igorot Fighters Return To The Ring For One Championship: Tigers Of Asia

Two Cordilleran mixed martial arts fighters will be flying next month to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to fight in the undercard of Tigers of Asia, the latest fight event organized by the Singapore-based MMA promotion company One Championship. The event which is scheduled for October 9 will be a major crossroad for both fighters. First to enter the cage come fight night is Eric Kelly who is making a comeback after fourteen months of inactivity. Kelly is in a very interesting position due to the fact that he was once considered to fight for One Championship's featherweight belt last year. Due to injuries and other issues, his chance to get the belt crumbled and here he is now facing Hiroshige Tanaka of Japan.

Tanaka has a more than decent record of 10 wins and 2 losses. His second loss was during his debut for One Championship in August of last year. Kelly, on the other hand, has only one loss - one that came in the hands of Honorio Banario, the other Cordilleran fighter set to compete in Tigers of Asia. On paper, the Kelly-Tanaka match-up is a classic case of striker versus grappler. Of Kelly's 11 wins, 9 were by submission and 1 by knockout. For his part, Tanaka won 6 by knockout and 4 by decision. So the match-up boils down to two possible scenarios - either Kelly submits Tanaka or Tanaka knocks Kelly out cold. For sure, whoever wins this match will make a huge step towards the featherweight belt which is currently held by Jadamba Narantungalag of Mongolia.

Next to enter the cage is Honorio Banario who at one time held the One Championship's featherweight championship belt. However, he lost his first defense of the title and has been winless ever since. He lost his last four fights. Needless to say, Banario is in a must-win situation when he faces off against Malaysia's Ev Ting on October 9. Although he lost his last fight, Ting still has skills both on his feet and on the ground that can give Banario serious problems. Ting will likely enter the cage as a favorite, not to mention the fact that he's fighting in his hometown.

Eric Kelly celebrates after choking out Rob Lisita of Australia in his last fight. Image credit: One Championship.

Also fighting in the card are two Filipinos. Eugene Toquero will face off against Asuka Mikami while Ruel Catalan will slug it out with Almiro Barros. The main event will be a middleweight championship battle between titleholder Igor Svirid and challenger Vitaly Bigdash. Fight fans can watch the bouts on FOX and Star Sports.