This week’s Friday Fight Facts takes us south to the Philippines, midway through China, and north to Japan for some of the mainstay promotions in Asia.
URCC Fight Night: BETS 2
It’s bets, beers and brawls when URCC Fight Night: BETS 2 goes down in Manila at the Casino Filipino tonight on 21 April from a cast of Filipino starters and two expected barn burner matches.
Jiar Castillo won the Fight Farm Flyweight Title to become a recognised TV reality star and he makes a big jump up against massive veteran and double division title contender Alvin Ramirez. Ramirez’ last fight was a 5-round bruiser against undefeated Carls John de Thomas, who has now signed with the UFC after getting the 130-pounds URCC belt.
The main event was originally set for former LHW contender Caloy Baduria versus Askar Mozarov on March 31st, but when Mozarov backed out, the event was rescheduled and Musa Conteh stepped into the mix. The only time Baduria ever saw a scorecard finish was when he drew his first MMA fight in 2003, and Conteh’s Muay Thai and kickboxing experience makes him a threat standing, so don’t blink.
URCC FN: BETS 2 will stream live PPV on URCC’s new PPV streaming service.
ONE Championship: Kings of Destiny
Also in Manila, starting at 7pm in the Mall of Asia, ONE Championship: Kings of Destiny takes place with a lightweight title main event and 9 matches including Filipino favorites Kevin Belingon, Eugene Toquero and Gina Iniong, and grappling whiz Michelle Nicolini versus wushu standout Irina Mazepa.
Folayang is on fire after finishing off perennial MMA stud Aoki and ripping the belt right out of his hands. Ting wins the right to challenge with a 4-fight win streak that includes Folayang’s contemporaries Honorio Banario and Eric Kelly, both of whom he choked out. Obviously Folayang has proved his striking acumen against grapplers, but Ting is definitely not a one trick pony, so expect fireworks from Folayang’s first ONE Championship title defense.
Also some thrilling matches to pay attention to include Kevin Belingon versus Tony Taru at 135 and Honorio Banario versus Jaroslav Jartim at 155. Belingon has bounced back and forth on paper since 2012, but he’s always been entertaining against some of the best in his division. Taru came into ONE as the Cage Warriors champion but suffered three defeats before rebounding against Geje Eustaquio. Striker versus grappler, where it ends up is anyone’s guess. Banario was on a role in 2016 with 3 back-to-back wins, and Jartim has the same balance, so it shall be interesting to see whose streak is going to fold.
ONE Championship: Kings of Destiny can be watched live via PPV.
Wulinfeng WARS 13
On Saturday, China’s mainstay kickboxing promotion Wulinfeng continues its foray into the MMA world with WARS 13 featuring a whopping 26 fights headlined by Wu Ze versus Kai Kara-France. The card is almost exclusively China versus The World and gives a lot of new fighters the chance to get more experience under their belts.
Kara-France has fought all over China, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand, and in the last 2 years he’s gone 6-1 with all of his wins by KO over the likes of Crisanto Pitpitunge and Rodolfo Marques. Wu’s accumulated over 20 fights in just 3 short years, and while his striking is nuts, his holes lie in his grappling so look for Kara-France to exploit him there.
Chinese notable fighters Wu Chengjie, Teng Lige, Askerbai, Zheng Xiaoliang, and Tuluosibake will face moderate competition from foreign competitors, as is the promotion’s intent to improve the level of Chinese fighters.
The event airs live on Henan TV, and likely there will be a stream around somewhere.
On Sunday April 22nd, Pancrase 286 in Tokyo features a team versus team theme with Pancrase versus Croatia’s Team Cikatic plus a bevy of high-profile Japanese fighters.
Pancrase versus Team Cikatic pits huge Pancrase warriors against strong counterparts. Lightweight King of Pancrase Kume Takasuke will face talented grappler Matija Blažičević in a likely masterpiece of a match. Standout Isao faces fellow grinder Marko Burušić. In the third of three, prospect Takahashi Sato returns against Anton Radman.
The card is stacked with big names in JMMA including Kazuki Tokudome and Takeshi Kasugai. Tokudome looks to rebound from his title loss by facing up-and-coming Akira Okada, whose only loss in 4 years was to Kitaoka in the Pancrase Lightweight Tournament finals. HEAT flyweight champ Kasugai will take on hot prospect Shohei Masumizu.
Also, wrestling sensation Kanako Murata looks to bounce back from her first loss to Queen Rin Nakai when she faces Australia’s Claire Fryer.
Pancrase 286 will be aired live on UFC Fight Pass starting at 2:00pm JST on Sunday.
Shooto 4/23, also in Japan but west to Chiba, the Shooto World Featherweight Championship between Yutaka Saito and Caol Uno takes the main billing on top of a card with strong young names in JMMA.
Saito lost his most recent 2 bouts, but they were not title defenses: he lost a 5-round split to Isao in VTJ 8th, and a featherweight test to Mike Grundy by UD. So after more than a year, it’s time to get the game moving and none other than Uno – also with 2 recent losses – will get his second chance at the title.
Young prospects that are still developing in Japan will feature on the card, including AACC’s Ryuto Sawada facing Wayjutsu Keishukai GODS’ Takamasa Kiuchi, 2016 Infinity League winner. Always exciting Yusuke Saruta will take on undefeated Koha Minowa. Hiromasa Ogikubo, VTJ Tournament winner and Mobstyles bantamweight champ, will face UFC vet Danny Martinez in a flyweight bout that should be very entertaining.
Shooto 4.23 doesn’t show on UFC FightPass live events schedule, so we’ll update if and when we learn of a live stream.