3 Big Takeaways From ONE: NEXTGEN II
ONE: NEXTGEN II took center stage in the combat sports world this past Friday, 12 November, and the event featured six extraordinary matchups. And the athletes who stepped into the Circle made sure to leave their marks with statement-making performances.
There were explosive debuts that helped shake up the various Muay Thai, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts divisions, and a few new contenders proved that they are ready to compete with the elite.
For the victors, it will certainly be a November to remember as they inch themselves closer to their World Title dreams.
After the final blow echoed throughout the Singapore Indoor Stadium, we reflected on the three biggest takeaways from the show.
#1 We Need Saemapetch Vs. Rittewada II
The main event collision between top-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender Saemapetch Fairtex and debuting superstar Rittewada Petchyindee Academy delivered nonstop action and plenty of drama.
In the end, it was Rittewada who earned a second-round TKO.
Saemapetch kicked off the match strongly and dropped Rittewada in the first round. Although his Thai counterpart got back to his feet, it looked as though he was circling for an early finish. The Petchyindee Academy standout survived the first frame, though, and then began to find success in the second.
The Fairtex product was still connecting with his arsenal of strikes, but Rittewada worked his razor-sharp elbows into the contest and found a home for them on his compatriot’s head. A piercing elbow eventually forced the Circle-side doctor to intervene and call a stop to the action, giving the promotional newcomer the TKO victory.
Both athletes looked solid throughout the contest. Saemapetch justified his position as the #1-ranked contender with a strong display early, while Rittewada was assertive enough in the second to show he belongs at the top of the division, too. The main event certainly delivered, but the want for more rounds between these two hangs heavy over the result.
An eventual rematch seems inevitable.
#2 Tang Earned His Place Among The Featherweight Elite
Tang Kai went into ONE: NEXTGEN II supremely confident and looked to knock out “The Big Heart” Yoon Chang Min in an effort to cement his status in the featherweight mixed martial arts division. And that is precisely what he did.
The Chinese phenom dropped his South Korean rival with a crisp left hook and followed up with furious ground-and-pound to get the first-round TKO stoppage win. The impressive showing moved his career record to 13-2 (5-0 in ONE), put him on an eight-fight winning streak, and elevated his finishing rate up to 85 percent.
Before this co-main event showdown, the Chinese knockout artist was already requesting to have a match against a top-five contender. Following his swift victory over the ever-tough Yoon, he has surely earned that right.
With 11 career knockout wins, a perfect record on the global stage, and a dominant performance at ONE: NEXTGEN II, Tang deserves the opportunity to test himself against the top challengers in the featherweight division.
#3 The Kickboxing GP Alternates Who Could Win It All
With the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix in full swing, two alternate bouts took place at ONE: NEXTGEN II to decide the fighters who would step into the tournament should they be needed. Both bouts provided incredible performances, with one victor standing out with a highlight-reel knockout.
In the final 20 seconds of the opening round of their bout, Smokin’ Jo Nattawut plastered Yurik “Mee Khao Jomhot” Davtyan with an overhand right for the ages. The Armenian-Russian hit the canvas with stiffened legs and couldn’t return to his feet.
Dovydas “Rimkenzo” Rimkus was impressive in a different manner to prove his worthiness for inclusion should his name be called. The Lithuanian had to thwart a hard-charging “Bamboo Sword” Zhang Chunyu in a closely contested three-round battle to do so.
Nattawut may have taken the lead position with his dazzling KO, but Rimkus’ showcase over a more experienced foe proved he would be ready for the stacked field that remains in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix. For now, though, they will wait for their phones to ring.
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