One Fighting Championship claws its way back to Kuala Lumpur on October 17 with a nine-bout mixed martial arts card stacked heavy with predatory cage fighters.
The main event of the night, entitled “Roar of Tigers” at the iconic Stadium Putra, is a tantalising featherweight match-up between “Ruthless” Rob Lisita (14-6) of Australia and top Russian prospect Marat Gafurov (9-0).
Lisita also headlined ONE FC’s inaugural card in Taiwan on July 11, coming away on the losing end of one of the fights of the year against Eric Kelly of the Philippines.
The blood-soaked battle saw Kelly execute a rear naked choke near the end of round two to surprise his Australian foe and claim the first ONE FC Warrior Bonus and its US$50,000 cash reward.
Lisita, however, appears unperturbed by the outcome, vying to return to redress the balance in his upcoming bout in Malaysia.
“[Kelly] got that money for surviving against the baddest man in the division,” Lisita told the Post. When I take out this undefeated Russian they won’t be able to deny me that bonus. It sucks to lose but it feels great to be home in the ONE FC cage.”
“If you live in the past you live with regret, if you live in the future you have fear. [I] live in the here and now and am enjoying every moment of my life,” he went on to say.
The 31-year-old from Sydney holds his training camps at Phuket Top Team on the famed Thai holiday island, which keeps him away from his wife and three young daughters – Mia (10), Elizabeth (6) and Amelia (seven weeks).
“My religion gives me faith and courage that God will protect me from any man but . . . it doesn’t make it easier to be away from my family,” said Lisita, noting that increased prize money would allow them to be together full time.
Whilst admitting that he is yet to show his “true ability in the cage”, Lisita assures he is ready to claim the limelight.
“I’m in the main event because I’m the most exciting fighter in ONE FC. I don’t talk the talk but walk the walk. I’m bringing Ruthless 2.0,” he said.
“I keep getting labelled as a brawler, but I’m the best boxer in ONE FC. Tell me who’s better and I’ll prove you wrong.”
His next chance to do just that will be against 29-year-old Dagestan native Marata Gafurov who is making his debut at ONE FC after blazing a trail through European promotions.
“[Gafurov]’s undefeated, he likes to hold on to his opponents and I think he will try the same to me. But this is ONE FC and we aren’t in his hometown,” said Lisita.
“Asia is my backyard and the way ONE FC is judged, they reward striking and going for the finish, which suits me and the fans very well. I don’t think [referee] Yuji Shimada will let him try to stall, but I have been working so hard that no matter what he tries, he’s gonna feel the power of my punches.”
Lisita is also looking to make the most of the meteoric rise of the continent’s largest MMA organisation.
“ONE FC has changed MMA in Asia. It’s true combat so it’ll keep growing, and I will be the biggest star outside of America very soon. ONE FC is without a doubt the best show I’ve fought on and I chose them because to me, it’s the best show in the world,” he said.
ONE FC: Roar of Tigers will be broadcast live on local station MyTV from 6pm Cambodian time.
Lion City battles added
Three more bouts were announced on Wednesday for the ONE FC: Battle of Lions fight night slated for the Singapore Indoor Stadium on November 7.
Two featherweight clashes will see Filipino Cary Bullos (7-1) face off against Major Overall (5-1) of the US and hometown hero Amir Khan (1-1) take on Pakistan’s Waqar Umar (3-1).
Meanwhile, female Singaporean newcomer Kirstie Gannaway is to face fellow MMA debutant Adek Omar of Malaysia.
The ONE FC middleweight world champion will be crowned for the first time in the main event in Singapore when BJJ master Leandro Ataides (7-0) of Brazil meets Kazakhstan rising star Igor Svirid (9-1).