The first installment of ONE: BIG BANG is now within touching distance, and there are plenty of reasons for fans to be excited.
In the main event, an epic ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Championship fight between reigning titleholder Roman Kryklia and fearsome challenger Murat “The Butcher” Aygun is certain to deliver fireworks.
But while that bout is stealing most of the headlines, the rest of the card also features some of the leading names in combat sports, as well as a hearty dose of the fastest-rising stars on the global stage.
Here are three contests that could steal the show when the action gets underway this Friday, 4 December, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Marat Grigorian Vs. Ivan Kondratev
Marat Grigorian is among the leading pound-for-pound kickboxers in the world. That makes his upcoming ONE Super Series appearance one of the most anticipated kickboxing debuts of 2020 – and he wants it to be a showcase.
The three-time Kickboxing World Champion will bring his trademark heavy-handed style to the Circle in search of an emphatic finish, but Ivan Kondratev will welcome these exchanges.
Along with being a Master of Sport in kickboxing in his native Russia, Kondratev also holds the same accolade in boxing, and he likes to throw hands in close range.
While Grigorian is an aggressive, front-foot striker, the Russian likes to counter with heavy salvos. This could make for some fascinating toe-to-toe action, with two men that feel they have a point to prove to the world when they meet in the middle.
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Koyomi Matsushima Vs. Garry Tonon
In a battle of top-five featherweight mixed martial artists, #3-ranked contender Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima and #5-ranked contender Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon will square off to stake their claim to a ONE Featherweight World Title shot.
Matsushima has already had a crack at the gold, but after a loss to then-king Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen last August, he rebounded with a stunning finish of “The Fighting God” Kim Jae Woong in February.
The Japanese star displayed his versatility in that fight with a complete mixed martial arts performance — and that will be his biggest weapon against the elite grappling specialist.
Tonon will almost certainly look to win the contest on the ground – either through ground-and-pound or submission – but Matsushima has elusive footwork, concussive punching power, and a solid wrestling game that will not make it easy.
The American sees this as another challenge to overcome, and he knows he possesses the ability to turn a match on its head in seconds, as he did with a 55-second heel hook victory over Yoshiki Nakahara last time out.
It’s clear that no outcome is off the table in this thrilling featherweight clash.
Bokang Masunyane Vs. Rene Catalan
We’ve seen former ONE Strawweight World Title contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan grow and evolve on the global stage, so his latest setback at the hands of reigning strawweight king Joshua “The Passion” Pacio will no doubt lead to an improved mixed martial artist at ONE: BIG BANG.
Catalan’s six-bout winning streak prior to his World Title defeat — which included a stoppage over former World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito — showed that he has the skills to take on any style, but Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane believes his own skills put him on another level.
He will have to wade through Catalan’s powerful striking, but Masunyane is fearless. With no losses on his amateur or professional slate, all he knows is winning, which will give him the confidence to attack his veteran rival.
But Catalan is nobody’s stepping stone, and he will meet “Little Giant” in the middle as both men aim for their division’s gold.
Read more: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Miss ONE: BIG BANG