ONE FC boss admits Paul Cheng was Brandon Vera's back-up foe
MANILA, Philippines – ONE Championship chief Victor Cui admitted that the promotion already prepared Paul Cheng as its insurance policy in case Chi Lewis Parry pulls out of the heavyweight championship clash with Brandon Vera in the “Spirit of Champions” card’s headliner on Friday, December 11.
As it turned out, Cheng eventually took Parry’s spot to face Vera for the inaugural ONE heavyweight title following the removal of the British kickboxer from the bout.
Parry failed to submit his medical results and drug tests that caused his sudden withdrawal from the 5-round title tilt versus Vera, a press release from the mixed martial arts company stated.
In addition, Parry decided not to board the plane departing from London to Manila, which was scheduled for Tuesday, December 8.
Cui confided to Rappler that the working relationship with Parry started to turn sour when Parry refused to show up at the kick-off press conference this past October.
“Ultimately, I judge a person by their actions and not by their words. Chi Lewis is talking about how he wanted this fight. In the end, what are his actions?” he stated.
After two main-event fallouts in its last 6 events, ONE decided that a corresponding contingency plan should be foreseen and readily available in such cases.
“Matt Hume (ONE matchmaker) and I realized from out past experiences when we have a fight change, particularly a title fight, as we agreed and set a process that if we have a title fight or a high-profile event, we should have a contender and a back-up fighter who is ready to go. So at least, the fans can get the fight they want,” Cui said.
Since Parry's refusal to attend the press conference, ONE decided to secure a suitable replacement, whom the company found in Cheng.
Cui defended his decision to choose Cheng as a substitute opponent, citing the fighter’s all-out attitude inside the cage.
“Our heavyweight [division] is not stacked as heavy as we wanted to be, not like our other divisions. Paul Cheng is 2-0 in ONE Championship. He’s our next guy. He said he is ready to take on this fight. I think it’s going to be entertaining fight for the fans,” he pointed out.
In his December 2013 promotional debut under the ONE banner, Cheng made quick work of Alain Ngalani by submitting the Cameroonian stud with a first-round rear-naked choke.
Cheng’s second ONE outing against Mahmoud Hassan provided plenty of action as he dominated the opening round before being dropped with the Egyptian’s right hook early in the second frame.
The 37-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian recovered from the knockdown and savagely controlled the remainder of the round, with Hassan deciding not to come out for the third.
“He has always been the underdog. He has so much heart, and he has no quit in him. No one should underestimate him,” Cui said of Cheng.
Handling the Parry controversy
The Filipino-Canadian promoter is convinced that Parry was not ready for his much-awaited match with Vera, prompting the Englishman to make excuses throughout the process.
“He didn’t submit his medical record and blood test. And on top of that, he just decided not to get on the plane. I think actions speak for itself. If you wanted the fight, you would be on the plane,” Cui quipped.
Over the weekend, Parry slammed Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organization on social media as he alleged ONE of bringing in Cheng to serve as a last-minute replacement without his knowledge.
Parry also threatened that he would throw the ONE gold-plated strap to the trashcan if he walks away with it in an interview with War of the Words Podcast.
In an exclusive dialogue with Rappler, Cheng clarified that he was invited by ONE to watch the heavily-hyped encounter between Vera and Parry live as he was considered next in line for the gold-plated strap.
“I think people had all of this misconstrued. I was excited to come to Manila because I was supposed to be next in line. I was just excited to be able to watch a world championship fight cageside,” Cheng said.
Meanwhile, Cui shrugged off Parry’s claims, asserting that the British behemoth’s allegations were baseless.
“Anybody can talk when they want to talk. At the end of the day, they will be judged by their actions. Just let the facts speak for itself. I don’t need to trash talk anybody. Here are the facts,” he articulated.
Although Parry intends to file a lawsuit against ONE as per his public post in his personal Facebook account, Cui gave it a cold shoulder.
“I don’t know what he wants to do. Maybe he wants to sue the airline for not rolling out the red carpet for him,” he said in jest.
Cui revealed that there are no legal actions in mind against Parry at the moment as he would rather concentrate on the consummation of Friday night’s event, which takes place at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“My focus right now these couple of days is to make sure that this is a good event for the fans. That’s the first priority right now. After Friday night, Matt Hume and I will regroup and will discuss about it and plan a strategy moving forward with Chi,” he shared. – Rappler.com