UPDATE: Due to Andrew Leone’s recent knee injury, the original main event between him and Shinichi Kojima has been cancelled.  The fight between Kotetsu Boku and Vuyisile Colossa has now been bumped up to the main event. 

When the Japanese-South Korean Kotetsu “No Face” Boku faces the South African Vuyisile “The Cheetah” Colossa in the main event of tomorrow night’s ONE FC: Champions & Warriors, redemption will certainly be on both men’s minds.  Both are coming off of devastating losses (in Boku’s case, a loss that cost him the lightweight championship), and both will need this win if they are entertaining any hopes of being championship contenders in the near future.

Each man poses a challenge to the other. Boku may be the smaller and older of the two, but when he fought Brazil’s Zorobabel Moreira in the inaugural lightweight championship bout at ONE FC: Rise of Kings, he showed the world that not only could he chop a much larger opponent down to size, but he could do so even while hurt.  Despite limping around the cage from the vicious leg kicks Zorobabel threw at him, and despite being visibly wounded, exhausted, and seemingly disoriented, Boku was still able to win the lightweight championship by finishing Zorobabel with a single, hard right followed by a bombardment of hooks.

Yet while Boku demonstrated his strength as a stand-up fighter against Zorobabel, his weakness as a ground fighter was on full display when he fought the current lightweight champion, Shinya Aoki, at ONE FC: Kings and Champions.  In both rounds of their one-and-a-half round fight, Shinya made good on his promise to avenge Zorobabel. He took Boku down quickly and beat him relentlessly, leaving “No Face” unable to do anything besides curl up, cover, and cower from the barrage of strikes and submission attempts that softened him up and left him as easy prey for the rear-naked choke that ended his short-lived title reign.

It may therefore be in Colossa’s interest to follow in Aoki’s footsteps and take Boku to the ground.  However, doing so would require a radical change in his style.  While the close-to-six-foot South African has no problem standing and trading blows with his opponents, he is not much of a ground-fighter himself.  He will therefore almost certainly try to stand and box with Boku, even though doing so could make him vulnerable to one of “No Face’s” heavy punches.

Still, Boku will almost certainly be at a disadvantage in this fight.  Though “The Cheetah” has a rather unimpressive 5 – 4 record, he has only been finished once.  This shows that he can go the distance even when facing a better opponent.  It should also send a clear message to Boku that knocking Colossa out is not going to be an easy task.  After all, Colossa, like Boku, has never been knocked out.

It must also be remembered that, despite Boku’s 20 – 8 record, twelve of his wins have come from decision.  Though earning his last two wins with a finish could signal a new trend in his finish rate, it still brings Boku’s ability to finish Colossa into question.

Furthermore, Boku’s one and only submission finish happened over eleven years ago.  This means that he will almost certainly try to stand and trade punches with Colossa.  Doing so, however, could spell the end for him.  Colossa’s quick and heavy counterstrikes could easily knock the thirty-six-year-old Japanese-South Korean out cold.

The fight is still anyone’s game, though.  Even though Colossa’s youth and strength could launch him to victory, Boku’s experience and heavy hands could easily make this match a repeat of his fight with Zorobabel Moreira.   But whatever happens, the fight between Vuyisile Colossa and Kotetsu Boku will almost certainly not be a grappling match.  Instead, it will probably feature up to fifteen minutes of straight punches, hooks, and overhands that resonate throughout the arena and leave their targets lying unconscious in a pool of their own blood and drool.  In other words, the main event at ONE FC: Champions & Warriors will almost certainly be one of the hardest-hitting fights on the card.

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Chris Zahar is an American-born journalist. He has been covering Asian MMA since 2013, and his work has been featured in both Fight of the Night and Yahoo Sports. He has also interviewed such top Asian, ONE FC stars as Rob Lisita, Paul Cheng, and Sam "Sung Ming Yen." Chris also has the honor of training at TOUGH MMA, the only Taiwanese fight team to have exclusive partnership with ONE Fighting Championship. In his spare time, Chris not only enjoys mixed martial arts, but studies politics, philosophy, and Chinese. He is also happily married and a proud father to his son. Chris resides in Taiwan.

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