Asian MMA suffered greatly at the hands of the pandemic, but it’s nearly back to full force.
October is one of the biggest months for MMA in Asia, with ONE, UFC, RIZIN, and BRAVE CF all holding meaningful fights in Asia or featuring notable Asian fighters. In particular, the fourth weekend of the month is one of the biggest of the year; not just for Asian fighters, but MMA as a whole, and it primarily goes down in the Middle East region.
An entire article could be devoted to the seismic UFC 280 card on the 22nd, but there are plenty of other worthwhile matchups taking place through Asia or featuring Asian fighters. Many events and fights have not yet been announced by the promoters, including a UAE Warriors show on October 20th and several fights on the ONE and BRAVE cards. But as of the time of this writing, are ten fights in Asia worth paying attention to this month.
October 8, Canggu FN 24 (Canggu, Bali, Indonesia) – Oloan Silalahi vs. Vincent Majid
Indonesia doesn’t typically produce many heavyweights, and it’s more like likely that a local fight card will feature male atomweights than the big boys. Vincent Majid (5-1) is the most notable of the heavies to come from the Indonesian islands, and the BRAVE CF veteran will get the main event slot against another young fighter at Canggu FN 24 (hosted by Bali MMA).
His opponent, Oloan Silalahi (1-0), may only have one pro fight, but that fight was a first-round knockout at BRAVE CF 20 back in 2018. Five years on, Silalahi has been training at Bali MMA with top-level coaching and training partners, and should show a maturity beyond his record. This should be a fun one either way in Bali.
October 9, Pancrase: Neo Blood (Tokyo, Japan) – Ryo Tajima vs. Yuki Ueda
At Pancrase’s “Neo Blood” event this weekend, fighters both at the very beginning and end of their careers take stage, as well as the finals of four tournaments held by the promotion. The weight class here to pay attention to is bantamweight, where Ryo Tajima (5-1) fights Yuki Ueda (5-6-1).
Following the wave of uber-young Japanese prospects taking over the regional scene, Ryo Tajima is 23 years old and fights out of Chichibu, Japan. He’s already beaten some pretty experienced competition and his only loss is to Road to UFC semifinalist Toshiomi Kazama. His opponent, Ueda, has an near even record, but is coming off two consecutive submission wins.
October 21, ONE on Prime Video 3 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – John Lineker vs. Fabricio de Andrade
While this fight technically doesn’t feature any Asian fighters, the clash between Brazilians John Lineker (35-9) and Fabricio de Andrade is (8-2) one of the best to go down on Asian soil this month. Fabricio de Andrade has been a young savage in ONE Championship, and has finished his last three fights by first-round knockout. Training out of Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, de Andrade has excellent Muay Thai and has competed almost exclusively in Asia.
John Lineker, the ONE bantamweight (145lbs) champion, requires no introduction for his violent reputation. Lineker entertains every minute he’s in the cage and is still just 32 years old, despite accumulating 46 pro fights and competing in the UFC for many years. He’s de Andrade’s most skilled and dangerous opponent by far, so don’t expect anything less than unbridled mayhem for this one.
October 21, ONE on Prime Video 3 – Kim Jae Woong vs. Shamil Gasanov
“The Fighting God” Kim Jae Woong (12-5) is back to right his wrongs after a loss to ONE champion Tang Kai. The all-action Korean boasts eight of his twelve wins by knockout and will welcome undefeated Russian Shamil Gasanov (12-0) to ONE Championship. He owns knockouts over Martin Nguyen, Tetsuya Yamada, and Choi Seung Woo.
Gasanov comes with a decent amount of hype into his ONE debut after winning the Pro FC featherweight championship. “The Cobra” also been training at Tiger Muay Thai recently and is a BJJ world champion as well. This is a tough fight for Kim to try and get back in the win column, and will likely unfold as a striker vs. grappler match.
October 22, BRAVE CF 64 (Bahrain) – Roman Bogatov vs. Kim Tae Kyun
Kim “Ares” Tae Kyun (9-0) is one of the top prospects out of South Korea right now, and he’ll get his opportunity this month to make a huge impression during his BRAVE CF title fight in Bahrain. The featherweight has been training out of Bangtao Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, and has already won four straight in BRAVE CF. That’s very difficult to do given the strength of international competition in BRAVE.
That intense opposition will continue when Kim fights one-time UFC veteran Roman Bogatov (12-1). Outside that one loss in the UFC, which saw Bogatov lose a decision off of numerous fouls and point deductions, he’s unbeaten. He rides into BRAVE CF 64 on the strength of two wins with the promotion and fights for his first championship since winning the M-1 lightweight belt.
October 23, RIZIN 39 (Fukuoka, Japan) – Juntarou Ushiku vs. Kleber Koike Erbst
Two of the best in Japan go at in the main event of RIZIN 39 as featherweight champion Juntarou Ushiku (22-8-1) defends his title against brilliant grappler Kleber Koike Erbst (30-5-1). Every one of Ushiku’s three RIZIN fights have been for a belt, and he even stepped back over to Pancrase to defend his belt there after picking up RIZIN’s. He’s truly made for championship fights and he’s only 27 years old.
Ushiku had better be ready to grapple, however, as Erbst has submitted scores of opponents. His only loss in the last seven years was to powerhouse UFC lightweight Mateusz Gamrot in KSW, and otherwise has submitted six straight opponents since.
October 23, RIZIN 39 (Fukuoka, Japan) – Patrick Sho Usami vs. Shinji Sasaki
While not entirely high up on the RIZIN 39 card, the super lightweight fight between Patrick Sho Usami (4-1) and Shinji Sasaki (20-12-3) is worth mentioning due to Usage’s status as a prospect. Originally scheduled to compete in Road to UFC in Singapore this year, Usami’s bad weight cut scratched him from the tournament.
He’s still somewhat untested but carries a lot of power at age 22. He’ll fight someone twenty years older than him with thirty more fights in Shinji Sasaki, a longtime Shooto and ROAD FC veteran. It’s an odd matchup, but not that unusual for a promotion like RIZIN, who notoriously puts together highly contrasting fighters for fan entertainment.
October 23, Road to UFC (Abu Dhabi, UAE) – Topnoi Kiwram vs. Park Sung Hyun
Right on the heels of UFC 280 is the semifinals of Road to UFC, featuring truly some of Asia’s top talent. Two former teammates will fight in one of the flyweight fights, as Thailand’s Topnoi Kiwram (8-3) battles South Korea’s Park Sung Hyun (6-0). Both of these fighters could be in the UFC’s flyweight division today and this should be a fairly even contest between two of Asia’s finest.
Topnoi brings a long career in Muay Thai into the cage and hits as powerfully and clean as anyone in the division. Park is definitely going to be looking to drag this one to the canvas, where he pounded out his opponent in the first round of the Road to UFC opener in June. Topnoi has spent a lot of time rounding out his MMA game with the right people at Bangtao Muay Thai and MMA, so if Park can’t get him down then it should be a nail-biter on the feet.
October 23, Road to UFC (Abu Dhabi, UAE) – Kim Min Woo vs. Toshiomi Kazama
While fans didn’t get to see ROAD FC bantamweight champion Kim Min Woo (10-2) compete at Road to UFC after his opponent dropped out, he at least got a bye to the next round and gets to participate in one of the most interesting contests of the semifinals. Both he and his opponent, Toshiomi Kazama (10-2) are exemplary jiujitsu fighters and typically enjoy heavy advantages on the ground.
Kazama dazzled in his Road to UFC fight with an array of throws and trips, cruising to a decision over Keremuaili Maimaitituoheti. Look for Kim to apply his knockout power to Kazama and keep the fight standing, but he won’t be afraid to grapple should the fight hit the mat.
October 23, Road to UFC (Abu Dhabi, UAE) – Kim Kyung Pyo vs. Anshul Jubli
India gets another chance to make a splash on the international stage when Anshul “King of Lions” Jubli fights “Red Horse” Kim Kyung Pyo at lightweight. Jubli is the complete package when it comes to MMA, and is especially tight on the ground. He’s also somewhat of an unknown to his opponent, as Jubli’s opponent also dropped out of the opening round so he automatically advanced.
“Red Horse” is also the full package, as he knocked out his opponent quickly in Singapore last June. But his reputation deems him a grappler… Both guys have a lot of passion and have big, bright futures ahead of them, so it’s a shame that only one can advance to the finals on October 23rd.
Which fight are you most looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!