SINGAPORE, May 2 — The road back to the One Featherweight World Championship for Narantungalag Jadambaa begins this May in Singapore.
Jadambaa will meet former One Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku in a rare meeting of two former champions at One: Ascent To Power at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 6 May.
Were it not for the two inaugural titles being on the line during the event, this would surely have been worthy of at least co-main event billing.
The 40-year-old from Mongolia dropped the title this past November with a fourth-round submission defeat at the hands of current kingpin Marat Gafurov. It was his first loss under the One banner, and his first defeat overall since 2013, when an ankle injury cost him a fight with Koji Ando.
For Jadambaa (10-4), it is all about figuring out what to do with a dangerous opponent in Boku. He has earned five finishes among his 10 career wins, with four of them coming by way of submission. His two 2014 wins for One were both drawn-out battles, as he earned the One title over Koji Oishi with a five-round decision, after doing the same over the course of three rounds vs. Honorio Banario.
The change in weight limits and ban on weight cutting by dehydration imposed by One should not give Jadambaa any trouble, as he previously competed as a lightweight, winning the Legend FC title back in 2011 and defending it once with a submission win over Yui Chul Nam before the injury vs. Ando.
Like Jadambaa, Boku (24-10-2) is a veteran of the MMA game, with the 38-year-old racking up two dozen wins since 2001. Last year, “No Face” decided to leave the world of lightweights and fight at featherweight, where he has gone a perfect 3-0 with three second-round finishes, proving he is a force to be reckoned with.
A former One Lightweight World Champion, Boku debuted in the featherweight division by stopping young Japanese prospect Juntaro Ushiku at Pancrase 67, before returning to One and besting both Major Overall and Vincent Latoel, positioning himself for this title-eliminator with Jadambaa.
Boku was the inaugural holder of the One Lightweight World championship, earning it with a third-round TKO in 2012 vs. Zorobabel Moreira. In his first title defence, he was submitted by Shinya Aoki, but has gone 4-2 overall since — with all four of those wins being finishes.
This contest presents the uniqueness of MMA at its fullest, as Jadambaa is a 2nd-dan black belt in Judo, a black belt in Kyokushin, and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In contrast, Boku is a kickboxer with 11 career knockouts to his name, and a 100 percent knockout record in his One Championship victories.
Jadambaa’s best chance would be to neutralise Boku’s striking with his own, and drag the Japanese veteran to the ground where he can control or submit him with his grappling ability. For Boku, all he needs to do is connect just once with his heavy hands, and it should be a short night of work.
Whomever prevails here will not have an easy path to becoming a One world champion again though, as current undefeated One Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov remains standing in the way. — Reuters