ONE Championship will host Visions of Victory on March 9, Dylan Bowker captured exclusive comments from several of the top fighters on the card.
Kuala Lumpur plays host to ONE: Visions of Victory and they bring a stacked event to the people of Malaysia. Axiata Arena will have Gianni Subba and Reece McLaren at the top of the marquee with the two vying for a ONE Flyweight title shot. The winner of the March 9th bout will be guaranteed a future title shot in ONE Championship. Initially Reece was going to contend for Adriano Moraes’ flyweight title but an injury resulted in the scrapping of that fight.
Gianni was at first scheduled on this card for a bout with Danny Kingad but had an opponent switch. Subba is adjusting smoothly despite having a new opponent on less than two weeks’ notice. Subba stated “I have a really good team of coaches here in Bali and I’m confident in my skill set. It’s a change but I’m ready for this change.” Reece isn’t at all shook by the last-minute changes either. McLaren said “We basically do a re-study of opponent and come up with different set strategies. No big deal because I am prepared.” Gianni sees this match up as a chance to propel himself to the top of the contendership pile and Reece will make every effort to maintain his #1 contender spot.
This is of particular importance to McLaren who is looking for yet another ONE title bid. Reece lost in a spirited Bantamweight title effort and had one more loss at 135lbs before dropping to 125lbs to pick up a win. Reece addressed the change in weight class by saying “I was making bantam weight really comfortably. We knew going down a weight class was accessible so we took a shot and it paid off.”
Subba’s efforts will be galvanized via the support of performing in front of his hometown crowd. Gianni said “Fighting for the main event in Kl (Kuala Lumpur) has been a goal of mine ever since I signed with one in 2012. This fight is for the no.1 contender spot. I plan on showing everyone that I am ready to be next in line for the title. I have seen this moment many times in my head, so I am very excited – humbly excited.”
Though neither was afforded a formal fight camp to prepare for the other, they are true martial artists and still improve every day. Subba said “The biggest improvements are my striking with new head striking coach Mike Ikilei”. McLaren stated “Training everyday day in day out, timing. Getting that is so unique and hard and can only be processed by consistency.”
Both men have victories over past ONE title challengers which makes this #1 contenders bout so compelling. Reece is entering his sixth bout under the ONE banner and Subba has fought his entire professional career with the promotion. Gianni said “It’s exciting, there’s no other Organization that cares about showcasing martial arts the way that ONE does, and to have been a continued part of the growth of the company is a privilege. We’re all riding the wave.” McLaren stated “It’s such an honour to be able to compete for ONE and given the main event spot I am beyond humbled. So lucky!”
In addition to the high stakes main event, one of the hottest prospects in the sport returns to the cage. Christian Lee has a one hundred percent finishing rate in his pro career and is on a three-fight win streak in ONE’s Featherweight division. When asked about where a win here puts him in the contendership hierarchy, Christian said “I feel that I am already the #1 contender in my division and an impressive win against Yokota will set me up for a world title match.”
Kazunori Yokota is the man who will be standing opposite of Lee at Visions of Victory. Kazunori collected a championship in the DEEP promotion, has 12 years of experience as a pro, and brings a varied skill set to the ONE Championship Featherweight ranks. Lee is respectful of his opponent and is cognizant of what Kazunori brings to the table. “I feel that Yokota’s greatest strength is his experience. He is well rounded everywhere and I know that he will be looking to finish me within 3 rounds.”
Christian has a lone bout outside of the 145lb ranks and does at some point plan to change weight classes. Lee stated “I do plan on moving up divisions, however my current focus is on winning the featherweight world title. Nothing else.” Lee reaps the benefits of training at one of the world’s most renowned gyms, Evolve MMA. Training at a gym like this that has had so many world champions come through will presumably pay dividends in Christian’s individual quest to hoist ONE Championship gold over his head. Lee stated “I have learned so much from training at Evolve MMA. I feel that my Muay Thai has improved exponentially from the hours of rounds put in with their world champion trainers.”
Christian Lee’s entire career has been with ONE Championship. Lee is part of the promotion’s growth as he undulates with it in his own personal growth as a martial artist. Christian said “I am very blessed to have started my career in ONE Championship and I am looking forward to helping my company positively influence the community.”
ONE Championship: Visions of Victory also features Agilan “Alligator” Thani of Kuala Lumpur who is one of the top welterweights in ONE Championship at 22 years of age, Hisyam “Zephyrus” Samsudin of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia who is a former WBF Asia-Pacific Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and a host of tremendous local talents who are world champions in multiple different disciplines.
Prelims will be streamed live on Facebook as well as the Twitter account for ONE Championship. ONEfc.com is the place to go for information on how to view the main card bouts. The largest global sports media property in Asian history returns Friday, March 9th with another installment of top notch martial arts action in the form of ONE Visions of Victory: Subba vs McLaren.