ONE: Battleground II Preview
ONE Championship returns to action this weekend with ONE: Battleground II, the second of a three-event series recorded at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on July 30th. Battleground II goes to air on August 13th (Singapore time).
At the top of the card, former UFC lightweight and TUF: China winner Zhang Lipeng makes his ONE Championship debut against a man who is no stranger to the ONE circle, former ONE Lightweight Champion Eduard Folayang.
Zhang (30-11-2) has been busy since his UFC release back in 2015, competing a staggering 24 times, almost exclusively under the Kunlun Fight banner in his native China. The 31-year-old has won all but three of those bouts, the last of which was a submission (triangle choke) win over Mohammad Naeemi back in September 2019.
Given his recent record, Zhang will likely be fast-tracked up the lightweight ladder, however, he will have his work cut out on debut against Folayang.
Folayang (22-11) for his part, is almost at the ‘last chance saloon’ in terms of the lightweight title picture. The Filipino legend is 1-5 since his win over Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions back in November 2018. Now 36-years-old, ‘Landslide’ will need to get himself back into the winner’s circle against Zhang, and start yet another run towards the ONE lightweight title that he lost in 2017.
The co-main event features yet another former champion at a crossroads.
Former ONE strawweight champion Alex Silva (9-6) will be looking to kickstart another title run of his own when he takes on China’s Miao Li Tao.
Silva, a longtime staple of ONE Championship dating back to 2012, is 2-5 since losing his title back in 2017. ‘Little Rock’ has lost two straight by split decision to Hiroshi Minowa and Joshua Pacio since reeling off two armbar submission wins in 2019, against Xuewen Peng and Stefer Rahardian. The 38-year-old is likely in a similar situation to the aforementioned Folayang, in which another loss could signal the end of the road in terms of title contention.
On the other hand, Miao (6-3) is coming off a win over Ryuto Sawada in April. The win avenged his decision loss to the same opponent in November. A win over a former champion would likely propel the Chinese standout into the strawweight title mix, the belt currently held by Filipino Joshua Pacio.
Elsewhere on the card, another longtime ONE staple Alain Ngalani (4-6) continues the trend of older fighters looking to get back on track. The 46-year-old Cameroonian-born native of Hong Kong is looking to rebound from a one-sided loss to rising star Omar ‘Reug Reug’ Kane back in January when he takes on Norwegian debutant, Thomas Narmo (4-0)
The five-fight, all-MMA card is rounded out a strawweight contest between Indonesia’s Eko Roni Saputra (4-1) and China’s Liu Peng Shuai (6-6), as well as a lightweight battle between Mongolia’s Otgonbaatar Nergui (5-2-1) and India’s Rahul Raju (7-6).
ONE: Battleground II Full Card:
Lightweight MMA: Zhang Lipeng (China) vs. Eduard Folayang (Philippines)
Strawweight MMA: Alex Silva (Brazil) vs. Miao Li Tao (China)
Heavyweight MMA: Thomas Narmo (Norway) vs. Alain Ngalani (Hong Kong)
Flyweight MMA: Eko Roni Saputra (Indonesia) vs. Liu Peng Shuai (China)
Lightweight MMA: Otgonbaatar Nergui (Mongolia) vs. Rahul Raju (India)