In just a few days, Malaysian featherweight contender Keanu Subba (6-3) will engage in one of the most important bouts of his mixed martial arts career.
This Friday, 26 October, he will square off against Phoe “Bushido” Thaw (6-0) at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS, which emanates from his opponent’s hometown of Yangon, Myanmar.
The 24-year-old Kuala Lumpur native possesses great cage awareness, sublime striking, and tremendous ground control, whereas his undefeated rival has bulldozed his way to the top of the division with his masterful stand-up prowess.
Before these two meet in the center of the ONE cage, we break down their chances of leaving the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium with a victory.
Phoe Thaw’s Immaculate Striking
The Myanmar hero truly represents his Yangon roots, as he has effectively utilized his country’s ancient martial art of lethwei since his ONE Championship debut in July 2015.
Lethwei, known as “the art of nine limbs,” is Phoe Thaw’s primary martial art of choice in the cage, which is evident by the fluidity in his punches and his proficient knee and elbow strikes. That has led to five first-round knockouts and TKOs.
The 33-year-old’s experience is visible through the creative feints he employs to set up his heavy strikes. He used this to bait previous opponents like Saw Yan Paing and Saw Llay, and then shook them with booming head kicks and overhand rights.
Matching The Yangon Hero’s Stand-Up
Subba, a product of Monarchy MMA, is a well-rounded competitor who has an equal amount of wins via TKO and submission.
A taekwondo background equips the Malaysian with not only striking abilities, but the style to match kicks with his boxing.
Along with a primarily orthodox stance, he uses his punches as a set-up to secure clinches. Opponents such as Christian Lee and Rayner Kinsiong were dazed with his hooks before they even expected the clinch takedowns, which prove the Kuala Lumpur native is as devastating on the feet as he is on the ground.
A Level Playing Field
Both athletes have showcased excellent takedowns in their previous contests, however, this is an area where their skills could be evenly matched.
Subba’s lighting-quick outside trips compare equally well to Phoe Thaw’s double-leg takedowns.
In terms of clinching, both parties would be in a tug of war. The Yangon resident has a background in a style that emphasizes clinching, whereas Subba executes most of his takedowns from the clinch.
Theoretically, this bout could be one of the most interesting clinch battles in the featherweight division.
Rolling On The Canvas
Subba seems to have the upper hand when it comes to submissions. After all, he has forced two opponents to tap out via guillotine choke, and one by armbar.
While the Malaysian has more recognition in this particular area of expertise, Phoe Thaw has showcased a newfound Brazilian jiu-jitsu game in his prior encounters.
“Bushido” may not be known for his grappling ability, but he continues to develop and could prove critics wrong on Friday night.
From the looks of it, this battle is a tricky one to predict. However, it has all the makings to be an instant classic.