Six years ago today, the 15th installment of Friday Fight Facts hit the interwebs. Here’s a look back to what was happening on this same week in 2012, when “GIF” became the word of the year, Kim Dotcom got busted, Facebook facepalmed its IPO, and “Gangnam Style” became the. Best. Song. Ever.
The UFC had finally returned to Asia with UFC 144: Edgar vs Henderson in Japan. Triumph and heartbreak punctuated the card, with only 4 out of 8 Japanese claiming victory: Fireball Kid Gomi, Hatsu Hioki, Riki Fukuda and Issei Tamura. The event witnessed the rise of Ben Henderson, the skid of Rampage, Marko Hunto reclaiming superstar status in front of his adoring Japanese fans, former Shooto Champ Jake Shields’ triumphant return, Anthony Pettis’ KO of the Night, Vaughan Lee’s first round submission of KID Yamamoto and Issei’s incredible KO of China’s superman Zhang Tiequan.
Also, Malaysian Invasion MMA was heating up, as two events had just completed: Malaysia FC 4 and F-3 – a year before the mammoth amateur promotion MIMMA was born.
That coming weekend, women’s MMA was in force with Jewels 18th Ring in Tokyo (a year later, DEEP would take over the promotion and save JWMMA). It was Roxanne Modafferi’s final fight in Japan before she moved back to the US and reinvented herself as a superstar. Mizuki Inoue began her rocket to the top with an armlock over Alex Chambers. And loveable grappler extraordinaire won her first MMA fight and became one of the years’ hottest prospects.
Well, flash forward and then flash back again, but only to the most recent weekend’s events.
TOP FC 17
Top FC 17 took place on 23 February in Seoul, South Korea streamed live on YouTube with 10 bouts. The main event was the Interim Featherweight Championship between Sung-Bin Jo and Jun-Young Hong. Reigning champion Seung-Woo Choi was meant to make his first defense against Jo, but he was pulled out because of an injury. It was a monster of a bout that went into the championship rounds seeing Hong, the underdog, scoring heavily and looking to upset the undefeated Jo. Jo rallied in the 4th with incredible brutality and finished with knees and punches to claim the Top FC Featherweight strap. Also notable in Top FC 17, women’s flyweight Ji-Yeon Seo looked sharp, and flyweight Kyu-Sung Kim climbed to 9-2 with an impressive performance against Japan’s Wasayuki Watanabe.
ONE Championship: Quest for Gold
Also on 23 February, One Championship: Quest for Gold was held in front of a thundering Myanmar crowd. Middleweight Champion “Burmese Python” Aung La Nsang spent more time on his deafening walkout than he did in the cage with a headkick and punches KO over Alexandre Machado to win the vacant One Championship Heavyweight belt. The card was filled with other Burmese fighters from the base of Lethwei who put on some nailbiters, especially Phoe Thaw’s push kick face KO.
Also on the card, two matches expected to deliver knockouts surprised by going the distance: Ev Ting split-decisioned Ariel Sexton with back and forth gameplans feeding into each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and Timofey Nastyukhin got the unanimous victory over Amir Khan with start to finish aggressive striking and a final barrage of ground control.
MIMMA 5 Semifinals
On 23 February, MIMMA’s 5th season semifinals were held in Selangor, Malaysia. The amateur promotion is on the way to crowning another batch of home-grown finalists on 30 March. Keep an eye out for these up-and-comers: Keng Fai Hui, J. Garcia-Candal, Effendy Kalai, Azreel Izzat, Damon Soo, Muhammad Meeraj, Dhiaaul Amal, and – well – basically all of the guys and girls who fought through this season and the previous.
Deep 82 Impact also was held on 24 February at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan. International standout Tatsuya Mizuno claimed the Middleweight title over Taisuke Okuno with a third round submission. Flyweight Champ Yuki Motoya was put to work in a bantamweight match against came-outta-nowhere Jae-Woong Byun – who was invited back after he bested Imanari at featherweight. Rin Nakai finally climbed back into the ring and beat the crap out of Young-Ji Kim, who has recently beat the crap out of Yoshiko in ROAD FC.
Shooto Gig Tokyo Volume 24 in Japan, also on the 24th, and in the 2018 Infiniti League Strawweight round robin quarterfinal, Yohei Komaki submitted Tomoharu Umezawa in the first round to gain 4 points. While this card didn’t feature many standouts, besides perennial contender Tomoya Hirakawa who finished Yosuke Ebihara in the bantamweight main event, Shooto fans can now watch all the fights on the YouTube channel.
On tonight’s Brave 10 in Jordan, Filipino flyweight sensation Crisanto Pitpitunge jumps up to bantamweight to face hometown standout Jalal Al Daaja. Look for a live stream here.
At Bellator 195, former PXC Featherweight Champ Joe Taimanglo looks to get back in the win column with a tough matchup against Joe Warren. Taimanglo is now 6-4 in Bellator.
On Sunday, 4 March, Deep Saitama Impact will bring that region’s fighters together for a bit more experience.