Rise of Kings was a night of action packed fights, surprise wins, champions being crowned and the debut of the best lightweight in Asia. The event not only met expectations, it surpassed them.
Toketsu Boku and Sol Chu Kim both surprised Asia and the world by defeating hot favorites Zorobabel Moreira and Leandro Issa by winning the Lightweight Championship and the Bantamweight Championship respectively. Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki made his highly anticipated ONE FC debut and defeated Arnaud “The Game” Lepont in record time in the first round. The Bantamweight Grand Prix kicked off with a great start with Jens Pulver, Kevin Belingon and Masakatsu Ueda advancing to the semi finals after winning some exciting fights. Elsewhere on the card, Gianni Subba made a great pro MMA debut, Mitch Chilson bounced back with a W and Melvin Manhoef killed Ryo Kawamura.
However, regardless of who won or lost, it was pretty obvious that every fighter gave it their all and deserve to be in ONE FC. Now the only thing we have to ask is, what’s next?
In the wake of ONE FC: Rise of Kings, here are some matches that need to be made:
Kotetsu Boku vs Eduard Folayang
This match up is a complete no brainer. The new Lightweight Champion will definitely need to find a suitable challenger for his title who is both credible and is a big name opponent. They don’t get any bigger than Philippine’s favorite MMA son, Eduard Folayang. Besides, Folayang already defeated Felipe Enomoto and earned a title shot. The only reason why he had to pull out is because of contractual obligations with the URCC. However, after his win over Arnaud Lepont, Shinya Aoki has thrown his name into the hat and wants to fight Boku as well so we’ll have to wait and see how this all goes down.
Zorobabel Moreira vs Ole Laursen
We here at TFN, much like everyone else in the arena were pretty sure that Zorobabel Moreira had the title well within his reach in the second round against Boku. However, like they say, “it is what it is”. Zoro did however look fantastic in defeat and he should get a rematch somewhere down the road. However, for now, it would be best to put him in a fight of the same caliber as him. That fighter is none other than Ole Laursen. Laursen was last seen at ONE FC: War of the Lions where he defeated Eduard Folayang. This would be the match to make to decide who might be a future no.1 contender.
Eddie Ng vs Arnaud “The Game” Lepont
Before people start writing off Lepont after his loss at Rise of Kings, people need to remember that he did fight the freaking best lightweight in Asia today. Give him props for even stepping up to the challenge. While Lepont may have lost that fight, we still see a lot of value in the French man. Eddie Ng was in fact supposed to meet Lepont at ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors but had to pull out due to an injury. Ng is undoubtedly a hot commodity in Asian MMA and is on the way to being a huge fan favorite. However, with an injury that has sidelined him for the most of this year, he needs a big win to bounce back into the mix. Lepont needs a win to stay in the mix. Put that together and The Magician vs The Game might be a HAWT ticket seller.
Leandro Issa vs Gustavo Falciroli
The loss to Soo Chul Kim was a tough one for Issa who seemed to be in control in the 1st round. However, being on a 7 fight win streak before this loss is no fluke and Issa still is a top contender for the championship. Gustavo Falciroli just lost to Bibiano Fernandes at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation via decision. Ironically both these guys previously defeated Soo Chul Kim at ONE FC. With Fernandes out of the scene for awhile because of his newborn, the winner of this fight might just decide who is the no.1 contender for Soo Chul Kim’s title.
Yusup Saadulaev vs Masakazu Imanari
Even though Saadulaev loss to Team Lakay’s Kevin Belingon, he is still a legitimate threat in the bantamweight division. This was only the 2nd loss in the Russian’s career. Fan favorite Masakazu Imanari was last seen losing to Leandro Issa at Destiny of Warriors via decision and should be looking to return to the cage in the near future. With both guys coming off losses, this would be a viable match to make between 2 high level bantamweight competitors.
Gianni Subba vs Radeem Rahman
Gianni Subba’s debut at ONE FC: Rise of Kings was extremely impressive as he wasted no time in disposing off Singapore’s Bruce Loh. Evolve’s Radeem Rahman was in fact Subba’s original opponent at Rise of Kings but had to pull out due to an injury. Subba defeated Loh in his hometown and the Singaporean fans will definitely want to get some revenge. The most logical person to put against Subba would be Rahman who we’re pretty sure, is dying to defend the honor and pride of the Lion City. This is a match that must be made.
Melvin Manhoef vs Yoshiyuki Nakanishi
Remember that time at ONE FC: War of the Lions when Melvin Manhoef kicked Yoshiyuki Nakanishi so hard that he not only caused the JMMA star to bleed but he split his own shin as well? Yeah, that time and they still wanted to fight even with their injuries. We say put the fan favorite Manhoef against that crazy Japanese Nakanishi and let them go at it one more time. This time, let’s hope that there is a decisive winner.
Mitch Chilson vs Shannon Wiratchai
The ending of the first match between Chilson and Wiratchai left many questions up in the air. First there were questions of an early stoppage by the referee then the match was ruled a “No Contest” due to an illegal soccer kick to Chilson’s head by Wiratchai. While Wiratchai has not competed since then, Mitch Chilson looked impressive in his win over Ngabdi Mulyadi at ONE FC: Rise of Kings. Evolve MMA has made it clear that they’re looking for a rematch against Wiratchai and Wiratchai is keen on it too. It only seems fitting that these 2 meet one more time in the ONE FC cage.
Zhao Ya Fei vs Ngoo Ditty
You might recall Zao as the kid who kicked Jens Pulver in the nuts last weekend. Well, nut kicking aside, Zao looked very good against the UFC/ PRIDE/ WEC veteran. Mind you that Zao only had a record of 1-0 going into the fight with Pulver who was 26-17. The kid was very impressive and he needs a good fight to climb up the ladder. We think that the person who will really put him to the test is Thailand’s Ngoo Ditty. Ditty (4-2) recently announced that he’s back in MMA training and wants to get back in the mix. Ditty would be a very good test for Zhao while a win over Zhao would definitely place Ditty back in the game.