ONE FC 16 Main Card Preview

ONE FC 16This Friday, ONE FC will capture more of the MMA world’s attention for their second consecutive event. ONE FC 15 featured Bibiano Fernandes — one of the top bantamweights in the world — but ONE FC 16 seems even bigger, as Ben Askren (12-0) makes his promotional debut after one of the more interesting free agencies in recent MMA history. The UFC’s refusal to sign Askren has only served to make him more popular with fans than he had become during his tenure as Bellator’s most decorated champion. While some may not enjoy his style, there is no debating its effectiveness, and his ability to talk like few others in MMA makes up for the perceived lack of excitement inside the cage. In his first trip to Asia, Askren will go up against Bakhtiyar Abbasov (11-2). The Azerbaijani has an equal number of TKO and submission wins on his record, but has primarily faced untested competition thus far in his career. He is a former middleweight, so he may have a bit of size on Askren, but that seems unlikely to affect the final result. Askren is going to wrestle Abbasov, and there’s nothing that can stop him. How much he does once he gets on top depends on Abbasov’s skill level, but it won’t be enough to ever really look competitive in this bout. If there was a points handicap offered on Ben Askren fights, I would take it without hesitation until he faces another elite wrestler. Although the main event is a showcase fight — and honestly, how many bouts for Askren can ONE FC make that aren’t showcase fights? — the card as a whole is still worth watching. The co-main event features Hong Kong’s Eddie Ng (7-1), who is one of the better prospects to emerge from Asia, aside from Japan. He is taking on veteran Vincent Latoel (14-14-2) who has competed against the likes of Eduard Folayang, Tom Niinimaki and Daniel Weichel. Granted, he lost to each of those fighters, but he has a decent striking game from training at Golden Glory, a sneaky guillotine, and will be the bigger fighter here. Eddie Ng won’t blow Vincent Latoel out quite like Askren will in his fight, but he is the more skilled fighter in every area. Ng has four of seven wins by submission, while 12 of Latoel’s 14 losses have come in the same manner. You can draw your own conclusions from there, but even if Ng wants to keep this on the feet, he’s going to have a significant speed advantage and should be able to win there as well. A more competitive bout on paper is between former ONE FC featherweight champion Honorio Banario (8-3) and Jadamba Narantungalag (8-3). Banario is coming off of back-to-back KO losses to Koji Oishi which saw him drop his title and fail to get it back in a rematch. Although his record indicates five submission wins, that’s a bit misleading, as two were ‘submission due to strikes’ early in his career. Banario does prefer to trade on the feet, but the Oishi bouts have shown his chin is not the most stout. Narantungalag was one of the more intriguing fighters to emerge from the wreckage that Sengoku turned into towards the end of its run. However, he was never able to get any traction with a top organization, having only competed three times since Sengoku’s final event in December 2010. That inactivity coupled with his advanced fighting age (38) is definitely a concern, but he still possesses the superior striking and was is effective at keeping the fight on the feet should he choose. By far the most competitive fight on the card, as a pair of skilled fighters with significant question marks square off here. Will Jadamba return to the form we saw in Sengoku despite not having competed since April 2013? Can Banario’s chin hold up when tested by a former K-1 competitor? I lean towards no on both questions, but my stronger answer is to the second one. Koji Oishi isn’t the guy we remember from the UFC trying to fly swat Nick Diaz’s punches out of the air, but he’s also not a top flight striker and he was able to put Banario away twice. If Jadamba is healthy and prepared, I think he makes it three consecutive KO losses for the Filipino. Finally, UFC veteran Caros Fodor (8-4) makes his third appearance in ONE FC against Willy Ni (15-8). Fodor was one of those fighters that was a surprising cut from the UFC, as many thought he defeated Sam Stout in his lone octagon appearance. Perhaps it was a style issue or a contract issue, but he is still a solid, capable fighter. Ni was a prospect nearly a decade ago, as he made his MMA debut in 2003 at the age of 16, and racked up a 15-2 record early in his career. 2007 marked a change in Ni’s career however, as he dropped all four bouts that year, another in 2009 and left the sport. He returned last year and dropped a bout to Vincent Latoel via guillotine, meaning that Ni has not won since 2006. It’s hard to know what you’re getting with a fighter who has been away so long, but the logical conclusion is that Ni suffers his seventh consecutive submission loss. Willy Ni was the beneficiary of facing some very poor competition on the European MMA scene in his early days, and once he moved up to face solid fighters, he simply couldn’t match up. Even in his return after a four-year layoff, he was submitted by Vincent Latoel (whose submission problems I just outlined). Caros Fodor isn’t any sort of grappling genius, but he’s got solid skills everywhere and he should be able to finish the likes of Ni. The event begins at 7am EST (7pm in Singapore) and can be viewed online. Canadian MMA fans have the added benefit that the Fight Network has a partnership with ONE FC to show their events, so they can catch it for free. Unfortunately there are no betting lines available for this event, as timelines did not allow odds to be posted with the busy UFC weekend, and the majority of the bouts themselves are so lopsided that odds were not warranted.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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