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August 21, 2016

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ONE Championship a smash in Macau debut

MIXED martial arts (MMA) promoters ONE Championship made an impressive Macau debut last weekend, presenting their fight series “ONE: Heroes of The World” at Venetian Macau’s Cotai Arena.

ONE Championship’s captivating style of fighter presentation and tantalizing cage-shaped ring were well suited to the extravagant atmosphere at the resort entertainment complex.

The fight card saw no shortage of highlights, but what impressed many was the sheer scale of the event. Some 8,000 fans filled the arena and made it one of the biggest MMA events Macau has ever hosted.

“Macau wants world class entertainment, so this is going to be the first of many times we will be coming here,” said Loren Mack, ONE Director of Public Relations.

In the main event, Brazil’s former champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes defeated Kyrgyzstan’s Tilek Batyrov by submission for the interim ONE Flyweight World Championship title.

In an earlier featherweight bout, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen from Australia upset undefeated 18-year-old prospect Christian “The Warrior” Lee from Singapore in a submission victory. Nguyen dragged Lee to the canvas where he put his younger foe to sleep with Lee refusing to tap out.

The clash that won the loudest cheers was probably Filipino veteran Honorio “The Rock” Banario’s thorough decision victory over Hong Kong’s Eddie “The Magician” Ng in a lightweight bout. Ng started off fast in his usual aggressive style, but Banario kept his composure, tagging Ng with lightning quick strikes from his wushu stance, and putting his improved grappling on display in their tight ground war.

“I liked this fight best because it was filled with action,” said Dou Ze, a tourist from Guangdong Province. “I don’t know much about MMA, but I guess everyone has some basic knowledge about boxing, wrestling, karate… and you get to see them together here.”

Despite its martial arts culture and heritage, China was foreign territory to MMA until just a couple of years ago. ONE Champions has held five events in China’s mainland in the past two years. It’s targeting 10 events there next year as it moves to expand in the country.

The emergence of local star fighters is also expected to help the sport grow in this coveted market. At the Macau event, two fighters from China’s mainland claimed four victories.

Tianjin fighter Ma Jiawen showcased his wrestling and striking skills in a comprehensive technical knockout victory over the Philippines’ Jimmy Yabo in a featherweight bout. Ma Haobin, from Jiangxi Province, overcame Cambodia’s Chan Rothana by unanimous decision in a bantamweight fight. Both of the two Ma were professional wrestlers before taking up MMA.

Ma Jiawen became a professional MMA fighter only about one year ago. Jujitsu and boxing are the skills the 19-year-old has been focusing on.

“I like challenging my opponent’s forte and practice fist fighting instead of depending too much on my wrestling skills,” he told Shanghai Daily. “Chinese fighters started MMA comparatively late. Regular and scientific trainings are what we lack.” According to him, a male figher should reach the peak of his stamina and technical prowess at the age of 30. For this reason, he sees a long and promising career, and his biggest successes, still ahead of him.

“When people talk about China’s MMA fighters, I want them to mention my name immediately; that’s my goal,” said Ma.


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