‘The Division Is Very Busy’ – Fabricio Andrade Previews The Bantamweight MMA Wars At ONE Fight Night 18
That’s because the event – set to air live in U.S. primetime from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand – will feature a trio of pivotal bantamweight MMA contests. And truthfully, any one of those matchups could produce a future challenger to Andrade’s golden belt.
The Brazilian titleholder strongly believes that the bantamweight MMA division is one of the promotion’s most compelling weight classes.
In addition to boasting established names and respected veterans, “Wonder Boy” says the division has only improved since he joined the world’s largest martial arts organization in July 2020.
“The division is very busy, and not just in MMA. In kickboxing and Muay Thai, the bantamweight division is also very exciting. In MMA, we have big names like John Lineker, so it’s a division that is very well served by great talents.
“I also believe that with my arrival and by doing what I did, getting several knockouts and promoting the fights a lot, I made the division even more interesting.”
Mark Abelardo Vs. Ibragim Dauev
Andrade will be watching all three of the bantamweight MMA battles scheduled for ONE Fight Night 18 this Friday, and the opening contest will feature a clash between surging veteran Mark “Tyson” Abelardo and undefeated promotional newcomer Ibragim Dauev.
“Wonder Boy” recognizes that the Russian is a gifted grappler with plenty of raw strength and power, but he also knows that Abelardo’s mountain of experience at the highest levels will serve him well. With that in mind, Andrade believes the Filipino-Kiwi will emerge victorious.
The Brazilian kingpin said:
“Ibragim Dauev is a very good athlete, a wrestling guy who takes people down very well. So, I believe Abelardo will be a good test for him. Abelardo is a very tough guy who has been in the organization for a long time and has great durability, in addition to fighting very well against wrestlers.
“It will be a big test for Ibragim Dauev. We haven’t seen him fight in ONE yet, while Abelardo is a ‘home’ athlete. It will be a very even fight. It’s difficult to say because we haven’t seen Ibragim Dauev fight in ONE yet, but I believe that Abelardo can win this fight.”
Artem Belakh Vs. Enkh-Orgil Baatarkhuu
While Belakh steps into the contest following a disappointing loss to fellow top-five star Kwon Won Il, Andrade believes the Russian is more skilled and has more gas in the tank than his 35-year-old rival.
“Wonder Boy” said:
“I believe this is a very good fight for Artem Belakh. Even though he is coming off a defeat and also recovering from an injury, I think this is a good fight for him. Enkh-Orgil is no longer at his best. Even though he’s coming off good victories, he’s older, and I don’t think he’s that dangerous.”
Baatarkhuu, the Road To ONE: Mongolia Champion and the protege of former featherweight king Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa, is coming off a banner year.
The Mongolian bantamweight defeated all three of his ONE Championship opponents last year, capped by a stunning submission win over the previously unbeaten Team Lakay prince, Jhanlo Mark Sangiao.
Despite those impressive victories, Andrade still sees this bout as Belakh’s to lose.
The Brazilian said:
“Of course, Enkh-Orgil has already shown that he cannot be underestimated. In the last fight, he faced a very young opponent, who was in a good moment, and he managed to finish the fight. So, Artem has to be smart. He has more quality, and if he fights intelligently, he will have a better chance of winning this fight.”
Kwon Won Il Vs. Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg
In the third and final bantamweight MMA tilt of the night, #3-ranked contender Kwon Won Il will take on dynamic knockout artist Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg.
According to Andrade, the Mongolian’s reliance on his flashy, explosive striking arsenal will prove to be his undoing this Friday night.
“This is a very good fight. There are two strikers, but I see more holes in Shine Zoltsetseg’s game. As much as Kwon Won Il is a striker, he has been evolving a lot – not only in striking, but also in grappling.
“Shine Zoltsetseg has some gaps, and he will give up the fight as it goes on, especially if the opponent takes the fight to the ground. His ground game is very weak. He has great knockout power, but his takedown defense is very weak, and so is his ground game.”
Of the three bantamweight MMA contests at ONE Fight Night 18, “Wonder Boy” thinks this matchup is the most likely to produce the next challenger to his throne.
If Kwon leaves the Thai capital with a victory, he will have won three fights in a row and – in Andrade’s eyes – earned a rematch with the titleholder.
“Wonder Boy” offered:
“If Kwon wins, I believe he could be the next contender. And it would be a good fight against him. I’ve faced him before, and he’s a guy who promotes fights a lot. He’s a guy who creates attention and generates expectations for fans with the way he promotes his fights, so I think it would be a good fight for me.”