Sunday, April 7, 2013

ONE FC 8 "Kings & Champions" - April 5, 2013

I've never been a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts, as it seems like a lot of hype with the action mostly consisting of the two combatants rolling around on the ground. Only recently have I started following the UFC, and even then, just checking the results of the top two or three matches every month and watching George St. Pierre when he fights.

Still, I'm not one to shy away from watching live sport, especially if I have never seen it before. So when a friend told me that ONE FC (the Asian equivalent of UFC) was holding an event in Singapore, I agreed to accompany him. It was the eighth One FC event, and the fourth to be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. ONE FC began less than two years ago, but crowds have been increasing steadily as their marketing takes hold and it certainly appeared that this evening was sold out, with about 12,000 in attendance, although about half of the seating area was blocked off.

Our seats were in the first row of the second seating area. At $60, these were a good deal as the row in front of us cost $140. The main problem with these seats is that the top of the octagon blocks the fighters' heads as they stand, as you can see below.

Dubbed Kings & Champions, the evening featured 10 bouts, with the main event being two Japanese fighters going after the One FC World Lightweight Championship. Keep in mind that this "World" Championship is only for those fighters who belong to One FC. That is one of the weaknesses of MMA, there are countless groups around the world promoting the sport but there isn't much interaction between them. Just as boxing's three federations render their belts less meaningful, the lack of cohesion among MMA organizations make their championships rather insignificant.

The introductions to each fight lasted around ten minutes, with the most annoying part being an announcer who trilled every R (Frrrrrrrrrrrrrom Brrrrrrrrrrrazil, fighting out of the rrrrrrred corner, Leandrrrrrrrrrrrrro Issa!!!!!!). The fighter would walk out, take his pat down, get greased up by the cut man, and then enter the Octagon. Meanwhile, the ring girl (above) would parade around and inform the crowd that the first round was about to begin.

Out of the ten fights, only two or three were good, with the best bout perhaps the aforementioned Issa taking on Russian Yusup Saadulev. Issa dominated in the takedowns but Saadulev was stronger when standing, and after 3 rounds, I thought the decision could have gone either way. Ultimately, it was the takedowns that gave Issa the victory.

One-time UFC World Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver took on Masakatsu Ueda in one of two Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Finals. Pulver (on the left below) is at the tail end of his career and was   choked out late in the second round. With the win, Ueda will face Kevin Belingon for the bantamweight title at the next One FC event in Manila.

The penultimate contest featured Melvin Manhoef and Brock Larson and should have been exciting, but both fighters were wary of the other's strengths and they spent most of the first two rounds dancing around, leading to whistling and boos from the crowd. At one point Larson ran around the ring trying to escape a Manhoef flurry, which was certainly the funniest point of the evening. In the end, a third-round takedown by Larson allowed him to pummel Manhoef for three straight minutes and take the bout.

The final bout of the evening saw Kotetsu Boku and Shinya Aoki duking it out for the One FC lightweight crown. Actually duking it out would be an overstatement, Aoki took Boku down early in the first round and tried to get him to tap out. Boku was able to avoid the loss for the first five minutes, but early in the second, Aoki again succeeded in a takedown and this time, he managed a rear choke to submit Boku and take the belt from him.

The whole event lasted 4 1/2 hours, of which there were 90 minutes of actual action. That's more or less the same as two basketball games but I'd have to say that there is much more going on in a typical basketball game. Too much of the fighting takes place on the floor and your view is often blocked by cameramen. In those cases, you can follow the happenings on one of the large screens, but if that is the case, you might be better off just watching at home. Which is where I'll be next time.



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