Asia’s biggest MMA promotion on Monday announced its first show of the year with ONE FC: War of Nations set for Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur on March 14. The card, which is noticeably stronger than recent events the organization has put on in Malaysia, is headlined by a welterweight title fight between Nobutatsu Suzuki and Brock Larson.
Suzuki (10-1-2) was initially scheduled to face Adam Kayoom for the title at ONE FC: Warrior Spirit, but the Malaysian suffered a training injury that he has still not recovered from, so WEC and UFC veteran Larson (37-7) steps in to replace him.
Both fighters are coming off big wins over veteran opponents with Larson earning his title shot courtesy of a unanimous decision victory over Melvin Manhoef in a middleweight match-up in April, and Suzuki stopping Phil Baroni with strikes in the opening round of their fight last May.
There are also fights on the card that will have implications for the title picture in the flyweight and bantamweight divisions. Two top contenders meet at 135 pounds when URCC flyweight champion Kevin Belingon takes on the highly touted Korean Dae Hwan Kim.
Belingon (12-3) scored a spectacular first-round knockout against previously undefeated Spaniard David Santacana last December to take his ONE FC record to 3-3, while Kim (9-0-1) took slightly longer to dispatch Thanh Vu when he made his promotional debut on the same night.
The Filipino has been on fine form recently and pushed Japanese veteran Masakatsu Ueda all the way in the final of the ONE FC 135-pound Grand Prix. His Korean opponent is undefeated, and the winner of this fight will be at the front of the queue of candidates to fight the winner of the rumored title fight between champion Bibiano Fernandes and top ranked challenger Ueda.
Two of the top 125-pound fighters on the roster are also in action with Yasuhiro Urushitani (21-6-6) taking on Adriano Moraes (9-1). The Brazilian found himself on the wrong end of a split decision when he faced Yusup Saadulaev in a catchweight bout last November, but will want to bounce back from the first loss of his career and show he is still a serious contender at 125 pounds.
Urushitani beat Rey Docyogen by split decision in his ONE FC debut and followed that up with another decision win against an outmatched Korean opponent at Deep: Tribe Tokyo last year. The UFC veteran had been slated to face Shinichi Kojima for the flyweight title last year and will hope a win over the up-and-coming Brazilian prospect will be enough to secure him a shot at the belt.
The final fight announced on Monday was a rematch that will see strawweights Ann Osman (0-1) and Sherlyin Lim (1-0) lock horns for the second time after the Singaporean won courtesy of a razor thin split decision when they fought last year.
Also in action will be Malaysian lightweight Peter Davis (8-3), although the identity of his opponent has yet to be announced. This show sees ONE FC return to Stadium Negara after using Stadium Putra for its two most recent Kuala Lumpur cards.
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