Cambodia’s latest offering to the international stage of mixed martial arts sees Sam Tharoth take on Jujeath Nagaowa of the Philippines Friday night in Manila in the opening bout of ONE Fighting Championship’s fight card titled “Warrior’s Way”.
Trailblazing female fighter Tharoth, whose nickname “Little Frog” stems from her favourite pasttime of catching and eating amphibians during her childhood, is coming off a successful ONE FC debut in Phnom Penh on September 12, where she beat compatriot Vy Srey Chai by technical submission with an armbar in the first round.
The 24-year-old atomweight from Banteay Meanchey province takes on a decorated boxing champion in Nagaowa, who will likely receive overwhelming support from the 20,000 home fans set to pack out the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
In her inaugural switch to the MMA code, Nagaowa, 27, claimed a TKO victory by punches over India’s Jeet Toshi at ONE FC: Rise of Heroes on May 2.
The self-styled “Bad Girl” now returns to Manila looking to extend her win streak against a Cambodian opponent who is also relatively new to the ONE FC cage. It promises to be an intriguing contrast of techniques, with Tharoth boasting strong wrestling skills and Nagaowa known for her knockout power in both hands.
Both fighters are already in the Filipino capital ahead of tonight’s weigh in from 7pm at the atrium of the SM Mall of Asia. Their matchup is the first of 10 scheduled for tomorrow, headlined by a ONE FC bantamweight title fight between Brazilian belt holder Bibiano Fernandes (16-3) and unbeaten challenger Dae Hwan Kim (10-0-1) of South Korea.
The co-main event is also set to spark a huge reaction among the home crowd with Filipino-American Brandon Vera (12-7), a former UFC star and WEC heavyweight champion, taking on Igor Subora (5-1) of the Ukraine.
Further down the card, Eduard Folayang (14-4) of the Philippines and Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin (7-1) face a lightweight clash while British light heavyweight James McSweeney (14-11) faces Roger Gracie of Brazil (6-2).
Filipino Kevin Belingon (12-4) and Koetsu Okazaki (10-3-1) of Japan meet at bantamweight after former ONE FC featherweight champion Honorio Banario (8-4) squares off with Brazilian Herbert Burns (4-0).
France’s Sylvain Potard (7-4) is pitted against Jake Butler (4-1) of the US in another light heavyweight match up, and three-time Lumpinee Muay Thai champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (3-0) of Thailand has a flyweight date with Rene Catalan (0-1) of the Philippines.
Filipina Ana Julaton (1-1) will go toe-to-toe with Egyptian flyweight Walaa Abas Mohamed Kamaly in the night’s second successful female bout following that of Tharoth versus Nagaowa.
Friday night’s action is to be shown live on Fox Sports 3 from 6pm Cambodian time. According to an official at MyTV, the local channel will screen a delayed broadcast of the Manila card with Cambodian commentary from 8am on Saturday morning.
ONE FC cues up events
ONE FC will aim to put on 24 events in 2015, with the New Year’s schedule to get rolling with a show in Guangzhou on February 6 followed by an event in Jakarta on February 14.
ONE FC CEO Victor Cui announced the news earlier this week while speaking at a press conference to commemorate the official opening of a brand new Evolve MMA gym in Singapore’s upscale Orchard Road district.
Cui also confirmed that Asia’s leading MMA promotion will also return to Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur sometime in March.
“Two thousand fifteen is set to be the biggest year in the history of mixed martial arts in China,” said Cui.
“We will kick off the year with a bang in Guangzhou with the first of 10 events set for China. Guangzhou is one of the largest cities in the world and fans in the city can expect to be captivated by a night of world-class mixed martial arts action.
“Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta were also the hosts of successful events this year and we will return to those cities to set a new paradigm in sports entertainment,” he added.
One FC: Dynasty of Champions on December 21 in Beijing is set to be the organisation’s first event on mainland China. It will be headlined by an explosive bout between Chinese bantamweights Xian “The Executioner” Ji (11-2) and Yadong “The Terminator” Song (4-0) of South Korea.