|Phạm Văn Nam (left) will defend his LION Championship 56kg title against Đinh Văn Hương on August 12 night in Hà Nội. Photo thethao247.vn|
HÀ NỘI — The famed mixed martial arts LION Championship event (LC08) will return to Hà Nội this weekend with a belter of a bout between two different styles, defending champion Phạm Văn Nam with his grappling skills and challenger Đinh Văn Hương, master of strikes.
Their five-round 56kg fight will be the main card of the class A which sees seven other thrilling bouts including two of female competitors at Tây Hồ District Gymnastics.
It will be Nam’s first title defence after he secured his belt last November. The national jujitsu champion brought into play his grappling skills to beat all rivals including tough Đỗ Huy Hoàng in the final to become the first championship of the LION Championship series.
His rival this time is even tougher. Asian sanshou champion Hương knocked out Trần Trọng Kim in the first round of the LC6 to jump to No 4 in the ranking and earned a chance to challenge for the belt.
Hương has trained with two national jujitsu champions Lê Duy Thành and Dương Thị Thanh Minh since April, aiming to well resist Nam’s grappling skills.
“Currently, I train sanshou on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the afternoon on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I worked with Thành and Minh,” said Hương.
“I heard that Nam loves to take down, throw and submission hold his rivals. I watched his video against Hoàng last year’s final. I believe that I can do better than Hoàng as I can escape from Nam’s holds and then maintain a distance with him to make my striking technique work well.
|Đinh Văn Hương (right) is hoping for a knockout win in the LC08 when he faces reigning champion Phạm Văn Nam. — Photo thethao247.vn|
“Of course, I really want to have (another) knockout result, winning with emotion should be better.”
Nam knew Hương’s preparation and said MMA was not sanshou plus jujitsu. However, he still gave compliment words to his rival.
“Việt Nam is a strong country of sanshou which has, in my opinion, interesting technique,” Nam said.
“Hương is training with leading masters of sanshou and practising jujitsu with experts to strengthen his ground striking. I believe it will be a good match for both of us.
“I have much more experience with MMA as I have trained and been attached to this martial art for years. It will be an advantage for me.”
The other match of the LC08 will see the return of Brazilian Robson Oliveira Soares who received a controversial loss to Vietnamese Nguyễn Ngọc Lượng in the LC05, leading to bans for three referees who made wrong decisions.
Soares is the national three-time jujitsu champion. He knocked out Rene Catalan Jr of the Philippines to take in the Angel’s Fighting Championship (AFC 25) title in May in Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu.
|Hungarian Bianka Balajti, (top) moves to LC08’s class A after her impressive wins in previous events. — Photo anninhthudo.vn|
Soares will fight Vietnamese Phan Huy Hoàng in the men’s 60kg class.
Hoàng also competed at the AFC 25 event and secured one technical knockout win. He is currently No 2 athlete in his weight category. He advanced to last year’s semi-final match where he lost to world champion Nguyễn Trần Duy Nhất who is No 1 and belt holder.
Nghiêm Tùng Lâm and Bàn Văn Hoàng will fight in the men’s 70kg all Vietnamese match with the winner qualifying for a title shot. The belt is currently available after champion Trần Quang Lộc retired last month.
Hungarian Bianka Balajti, who made impressive wins in class B in previous events, will fight Vietnamese Nguyễn Thị Uyển Nhi, 2022 season first runner-up, in the women’s 56kg. The winner will be a challenger for the belt against defending champion Dương Thị Thanh Bình.
|A poster of the LION Championship 08 which will feature 19 thrilling matches at the Tây Hồ District Gymnasium|
The class B matches will be held in the afternoon with 11 pairs of fighters. Among them, Harry John Smith vs Trần Việt Anh in the men’s 65kg and Jesse James Bernal vs Đỗ Thành Chương in the men’s 77kg are special matches.
Smith is an English teacher who took part in the LC06 in June and won over Phạm Thanh Ngân by points.
His rival, Anh, is a young wushu fighter who has just practised MMA recently.
Meanwhile Bernal is a Marine Security Guard at the US Embassy in Việt Nam. The member of the US Marine Corps said he took part in the LC to push himself. As MMA was strongly developed in Việt Nam and he also wanted to begin his MMA journey here.
His rival Chương has not fought MMA for a long time but his coaches at the MMA Kickfit Sports believed in his ability.