The wait is finally over. Mixed martial arts fans in Cambodia will get their first taste of top-class international cage fighting action at 7pm tonight at Koh Pich Theatre with the historic ONE FC: Rise of the Kingdom event.
Asia’s largest MMA organisation is bringing an unforgettable show to Phnom Penh, headlined by a bout to decide who will be crowned the inaugural ONE FC flyweight world champion.
The two top contenders of the division, Brazilian “Black Diamond” Adriano Moraes (11-1) and Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio (6-2) of the Philippines will clash in the ONE FC cage for the title after making weight (57kg) yesterday.
“I am excited and proud to be fighting for ONE FC’s inaugural flyweight championship title belt and I cannot wait to fight in front of all the fans in Cambodia,” Moraes told the Post.
“I will give my best fight and earn the flyweight champion title!”
Eustaquio, meanwhile, said it was an honour to represent the Philippines in the title match.
“Winning it would mean a lot to me and my country, and it will be life changing. I have been working and training hard so I am prepared for the fight,” he said.
ONE FC chief exec Victor Cui noted the excitement among his colleagues at bringing an event to Cambodia for the first time.
“Our band of world-class fighters have all made weight and are ready to take Asia by storm tonight here in the Kingdom. Be ready for a night of unforgettable action where we showcase the talents of local Cambodian fighters in our Featherweight Grand Prix,” he said.
“The response for the fights have been fantastic – with the support of NagaWorld and MyTV – and we can’t wait to put on a fantastic show for all the fans in Cambodia.”
The co-main event of the night features a tantalising battle between Dutch lightweight Vincent Latoel (15-14-2) and Caros Fodor (9-4) of the US.
“I am happy I made weight and I am just now rehydrating for fight night,” Fodor told the Post yesterday. “I have fought with Vincent on several occasions before and he is a great guy. We will put on a great show for everybody.”
All Cambodians on the card are making their debuts for ONE FC, and a highlight for local fans is sure be the international encounter of Cambodian-Australian Suasday Chau (4-3) and Arnaud Lepont (10-4) of France.
Suasday said he felt no pressure on making his debut in the ONE FC cage. “Just having lots of fun enjoying the journey and experience,” he said.
The 33-year-old Adelaide native has been kept extremely busy this week with media meetings, although his perennially sunny disposition has got him into trouble on occasion, he admitted.
“I kept being told to look more fierce in photo shoots. However, it’s just not in me so they have given up on that request.”
Undefeated Singaporean Radeem Rahman (2-0) takes on Taiwan’s Ming Yen Sung (3-1) in the bantamweight division, while Amir Khan of Singapore will launch his MMA career against Malaysian featherwight Jian Kai Chee (4-4).
A highly anticipated featherweight matchup between Cambodian cagemaster Chan Heng (7-1) and judo expert Meas Meu (1-0) will likely produce some fireworks for the action-craving crowd of an expected 4,000.
“I feel so excited – more than I can say,” Chan Heng told the Post when asked about tonight’s fight. “I will show the fans the best I have, until I have nothing left to give.”
One shock to the system came in the announcement yesterday evening that Cambodian featherweight and A Fighter gym trainer Chan Reach, one of the pioneers of the sport in the Kingdom, had failed to make weight and lost his place in the Grand Prix competition.
Chan Reach’s last-minute replacement was named as 21-year-old kickboxer Dun Sam Ang, who carries the nickname “Iron Fist”.
Sam Ang will face Chin Heng (1-2) in the semifinals of the Cambodian Featherweight Grand Prix, with the winner progressing to the final to be held in the slot before the co-main event.
Chan Rothana (1-0), a practitioner of Cambodian martial art Yuthakun Khorm, is up against fellow fight veteran Prak Chansin (4-4) in the other semifinal, to be fought over two rounds.
The night will explode out of the blocks with local female combatants Sam Tharoth and Vy Srey Chai squaring off for a 50kg catch-weight contest.
TV viewers can tune into local channel MyTV to watch the entire card, while English commentary is available on Fox Sports’ coverage of the night.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IN SOPHENG