Gianni Subba is answering the call, and now finds himself on the cusp of a world title shot.
He is scheduled to clash with Australia’s Reece “Lightning” McLaren in a flyweight world title eliminator at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY, which emanates from the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday, 9 March.
This enticing bout will serve as the night’s main event, with the winner to get a flyweight world title shot in the future.
Subba, a 25-year-old Malaysian hero, replaces ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, who was forced to withdraw from the headlining tilt due to injury sustained in training.
He is looking to follow up on his impressive unanimous decision victory over former flyweight world title challenger Riku “The Outsider” Shibuya, and has been training consistently at Bali MMA in an effort to secure a world title opportunity.
Now, his chance has come, but he faces a tough task in McLaren.
The 26-year-old McLaren is a BJJ black belt armed with a pair of Australian championships in the cage, and owns a commendable professional record of 10-5 with eight of those wins coming by spectacular finish.
The Filipino-Australian had a hot start in the promotion, as he rattled off a pair of victories against top bantamweights Mark Striegl and Muin Gafurov before challenging ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes in December 2016.
“Lightning” ultimately lost the contest by a razor-thin split decision, but it was by far the toughest test of Fernandes career to date, proving McLaren’s elite standing. Following a tough loss in his return, McLaren dropped down a weight class, and he immediately made an impact in the flyweight division.
Last November, he masterfully submitted the highly-regarded Anatpong “Mak Mak” Bunrad in the first round via D’Arce choke, and he became the first person ever to finish the Thai competitor.
The Return Of “The Alligator”
In action just before the enticing flyweight main event is local favorite Agilan “The Alligator” Thani (8-1).
Just three months following his lone blemish to recently-retired ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, Thani came back stronger than ever, as he thoroughly routed Egypt’s Sherif Mohamed to earn a unanimous decision victory.
Thani is attempting to get back into the world title picture. He will get a chance to continue building some momentum when he meets Indian knockout artist and SFL Welterweight Champion, Amitesh Chaubey.
A Battle Between Two Top Featherweights
Ever since losing to future ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen in August 2016, Lee has returned with a vengeance.
The young lion is currently riding a three-bout win streak. Most recently, in December, he tied the record for most stoppage victories in ONE history by knocking out former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku via a spectacular slam in the first round.
Yokota, a former DEEP Featherweight and Lightweight Champion, has some unfinished business with Nguyen, too.
In his last promotional appearance in January 2017, the Japanese veteran fell to Nguyen via knockout. He has since bounced back from the rare defeat with a masterful kimura submission victory last December.
Now, Yokota is ready to ascend up the featherweight ladder in an effort to earn a rematch.
Danny Kingad Gets New Opponent
Team Lakay standout Danny “The King” Kingad (8-1) will return to the ONE cage for the first time since his flyweight world title challenge last November. Originally slated to meet Subba, Kingad will now square off against Bulgaria’s Sotir “The Trouble” Kichukov (13-7).
Kingad is looking to regain some much-needed momentum after suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Moraes. He trains out of the highly regarded Baguio City, Philippines-based camp Team Lakay, which has produced multiple world champions including ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, Eduard Folayang, and Honorio Banario.
In order for “The King” to rise back to prominence and get a second crack at claiming the divisional throne, he will need to get past Kichukov, who has a chip on his shoulder.
Kichukov, a Max Fight Bantamweight Champion, is one of the most durable and versatile athletes in the weight class.
The 27-year-old Bulgarian, who is now based in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, is a certified finisher with a killer instinct. As a matter of fact, a whopping 77 percent of his career victories have come by spectacular finish, and he is determined to elevate that ratio even higher.
After spending 13 months away from the organization, he made his return this past January at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES, but fell to Chinese superstar Ma Hao Bin in a competitive three-round war.
Now, only four weeks since the bout, Kickhukov has accepted a short notice offer to meet a former world title challenger in Kingad. By defeating the Filipino, he can easily catapult himself into the upper echelons of a competitive flyweight division.
Luis Santos Welcomes Kiamrian Abbasov To ONE
Santos is one of the most experienced athletes in the martial arts world, having competed in a staggering 75 cage bouts during his career and compiling a record of 63-10-1 (1 NC) in the process. The BJJ and judo black belt is renowned for his aggressive approach, knockout power, and imposing physical presence in the cage, and he is looking to restart his run towards world title contention.
Krygyzstan native Abbasov arrives to ONE with an impressive 18-3 record, and is riding a 10-bout win streak. The former Prime Selection GP Welterweight Champion has nine knockouts and three submissions on his record, and will look to catapult himself into the title mix at the seasoned Brazilian veteran’s expense.
Michelle Nicolini Makes Her Return
ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY features the highly anticipated return of eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Michelle Nicolini, who takes on Ukrainian submission specialist Iryna Kyselova in a women’s strawweight contest.
Nicolini is a legend on the mats. In addition to her eight BJJ world titles, she captured an ADCC Title during her storied jiu-jitsu career, and was inducted into the BJJ Hall Of Fame upon her retirement from the sport.
The Brazilian’s 4-1 cage record unsurprisingly includes four submission victories, and she heads into the upcoming tilt on a two-bout win streak, thanks to back-to-back submissions of Mona Samir and five-time wushu world champion Irina Mazepa inside the ONE cage.
She will face Kyselova, who comes into the bout with outstanding grappling credentials of her own. The Donskoe, Ukraine-based athlete has a professional record of 11-2 with nine stoppage victories, seven of which have come by submission. The 22-year-old is riding a four-bout win streak, and looks to make a statement in her promotional debut.
A Showdown Between Young Featherweights
Mujtaba (8-1) has a host of spectacular stoppage wins on his record, including four submission finishes.
The former UGB MMA Featherweight Champion will make his fourth appearance inside the ONE cage, and the 25-year-old looks to display the massive improvements he has made to his game over the past year.
The 21-year-old Ma is a Chinese National Freestyle Wrestling silver medalist who enters the match following back-to-back TKO wins in his last two outings.
Aside from possibly going on a three-bout win streak, he has some extra incentive in this forthcoming clash. He wants to exact revenge for his Tianjin Top Team training partner Li Kai Wen, who received a loss in his November battle against Mujtaba.
In Preliminary Action
MIMMA featherweight champion “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman, who is coming off a sensational victory over China’s Yang Fei, will make his bantamweight premiere against Kun Khmer specialist Rin Saroth. Saroth brings a wealth of experience into the cage, having over 110 wins in 130 Kun Khmer bouts under his belt.
The event also marks the promotional debut of Jihin “Shadowcat” Radzuan. The highly-regarded Johor Bahru resident is a MIMMA women’s champion, as well as a FIOGA wushu world champion. She faces India wushu champion Puja Tomar in a women’s atomweight clash.
Finally, Indonesia’s Riski “King Kong” Umar will look to build on his perfect two-stoppage win streak in the ONE cage, as he takes on KWC Flyweight Champion Khon Sichan in a 62.5kg catch weight contest. Khon brings a seasoned 29-9-3 Kun Khmer record to the cage, which should make for a thrilling battle.