Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen is eager to make his return to the Circle, and he’d love nothing more than to even the score with an old rival in his next promotional appearance.
The Dutch-Indonesian featherweight wants to continue his march toward ONE World Title gold, and he believes that journey should go through Bruno “Puccibull” Pucci, who handed “The Archangel” his first career blemish.
“I haven’t been in the cage for quite a bit now because of the current [COVID-19] situation, and I think it would be a really awesome opportunity for me to get a rematch against my very first opponent back when I started with ONE Championship back in 2015,” Engelen says.
“I’ve always told my friends – I’ve told myself as well – that I’d love to have a rematch with him, and I think this is the time.”
In December 2015, Engelen entered the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, with a perfect 3-0 mixed martial arts record, and he looked to impress in his debut on the global stage.
But Pucci utilized the skills that made him a two-time BJJ No Gi World Champion, as he constantly attacked the bearded striker with various tricks from his grappling arsenal. The Brazilian ultimately submitted “The Archangel” via rear-naked choke in the second round.
When Engelen reflects on the contest, he doesn’t make any excuses and readily admits that Pucci was the better man that night.
“The guy is a great fighter. He’s a world-class grappler, and you know, that first fight definitely went to him,” the Dutch-Indonesian says.
However, a lot has changed over the past six-and-a-half years.
Each man has continued to sharpen their strengths, as well as build upon their perceived weaknesses and further develop their overall games.
And while both competitors have experienced mixed results, they’ve also achieved some highlight-reel moments.
For instance, “Puccibull” made former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku tap out in the first round, and he produced one of the fastest submissions in the featherweight division by putting “White Dragon” Xie Chao to sleep with a guillotine choke in 56 seconds.
Meanwhile, Engelen displayed excellent grappling chops with a pair of rear-naked choke victories and earned one of the division’s quickest-ever knockout wins by finishing Cambodian Kun Khmer specialist Meas Meul with a head kick in 39 seconds.
Given both of their startling improvements, “The Archangel” feels that a vastly different story would unfold in the rematch.
“I’ve grown quite a lot since then and we both have pretty active careers. Both of us fought a lot of high-level guys, either [top-ranked] contenders, title contenders, or the current champion,” Engelen says.
“We both had a few good wins, we both had a few losses, and I think it’s a very even matchup. So when this happens, it’s going to be an awesome fight, 100 percent.”
More than anything, Engelen desperately wants to show the global fan base – as well as “Puccibull” – that he’s grown as a mixed martial artist, and he’s hopeful that ONE Championship’s matchmakers will make this grudge match a reality.
If his wish is granted, “The Archangel” promises he will even the score. After all, the chance to earn some redemption and avenge his first career loss is all the motivation he needs.
“Why would that push me harder and harder every day? It’s because I will have more to prove this time around,” he states.
“Obviously, I lost my first time. This time, I will have to win, 100 percent, no matter what. And I’ll push myself, no matter what, to make this next fight a victory for me.”