On 6 May 2016, ONE Championship will crown its first women’s atomweight world champion, as Angela Lee takes on Mei Yamaguchi in the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Also, UFC and Strikeforce veteran Roger Gracie battles the unbeaten Michal Pasternak for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.
However, those are just four of the key fighters you need to keep an eye out for when you tune in to see the action. There are several other fights on the ultra-stacked card that make this one of the most exciting MMA events of the year.
Lee (5-0) and Yamauguchi (15-8-1) were announced as the headlining main event for the card even before an injury scrapped plans for ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash to defend his title against Aleksei Butorin in a clash of two undefeated Russian middleweights.
Lee, nicknamed “Unstoppable,” has been just that since debuting with the promotion in 2015. The 19-year-old phenomenon has earned all of her wins via submission, including a Twister that she secured last year on Natalie Gonzales Hills. Her second-round neck crank submission of Rebecca Heintzman earlier this year set Lee up for this title fight.
Yamaguchi is a veteran of the sport and 14 years the elder of Lee. She earned three wins last year in Deep, including a pair of TKO finishes, winning her the title of Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion. The experience and “big-match” exposure will be in the corner of “V.V,” as she has shared the cage with the likes of world-ranked fighters such as Ayaka Hamasaki and Megumi Fujii.
Gracie (7-2) has kept up the famed Gracie family reputation, earning submission wins over some solid names in his career, along with a TKO of James McSweeney in his debut with ONE. His two losses are to Tim Kennedy and former Strikeforce champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, so the 34-year-old knows what it is like to face the best of the best. This fight is especially important to him though, as it represents an opportunity to become the first Gracie MMA world champion since UFC tournament winner Royce Gracie.
Pasternak (11-0) made a splash in his ONE debut the same year as Gracie, earning a decision in 2014 over Rafael Silva despite severely injuring his knee. The 32-year-old from Poland has just now started to venture away from his home country, but the chance to face—and defeat—someone like Gracie will be the opportunity of a lifetime, not to mention having the inaugural ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship belt on his shoulder.
As mentioned, the two title fights are not the only key bouts set for the night.
Narantungalag Jadambaa and Kotetsu Boku
Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa returns to the ONE cage for the first time since losing his belt, as he meets former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku. It is very rare to see a pair of ex-titleholders from the same promotion square off, and this one features two of the very best.
Jadambaa owns a 50 percent finish rate among his career wins, adding decisions over Koji Oishi, Honorio Banario and Yui Chul Nam along the way. His 2014 victory vs. Oishi netted him the ONE title, and he has showcased a huge amount of resilience and skill so far in his ONE Championship run. For all intents and purposes, this is probably a title eliminator to see who current ONE Featherweight World Champion will face next.
Boku has the same 50 percent finish rate in his victories, but all his wins in ONE Championship to date have been sensational knockouts. He is also a perfect 3-0 since deciding to make the move to featherweight, giving him considerable momentum in this fight. Given Jadambaa also prefers the stand-up game, this matchup should be pure dynamite.
Another name to keep an eye on is Angela Lee’s brother, Christian, who collides with Cary Bullos at featherweight. Two years younger than Angela, Christian has earned all three of his professional wins inside the ONE cage inside of the first round, and is quickly building a nice highlight reel of flashy finishes. He’ll be sure to claim some of the attention for himself on the night before his sister takes to the cage.