After resuming its flagship event schedule at ONE: NO SURRENDER on 31 July, ONE Championship is set for the sequel.
This coming Friday, 14 August, the world’s largest martial arts organization will deliver another round of excitement with ONE: NO SURRENDER II.
While the event will be headlined by a ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament semifinal matchup between Saemapetch Fairtex and Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym, three other fights have the potential to dominate the headlines.
Without further ado, here are three bouts that could steal the show this weekend in Bangkok, Thailand.
Leo Pinto Vs. Mehdi Zatout
The man known as “Diamond Heart” last fought in January at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW, where he edged out Han Zi Hao via split decision. On the same night, Pinto dropped a unanimous decision against Zatout’s pupil, Adam Noi.
Both Zatout and Pinto are masterful strikers. “Diamond Heart” loves to move in and out of his opponents’ range while throwing kicks and knees. His sporadic movements could make it difficult for Pinto to use his excellent boxing.
Meanwhile, Pinto has proven that he’s got hands for days. He often uses pitter-patter punches to set up body shots and hooks, which could throw off Zatout as he looks for the opening to squeeze in one of his counters.
All of that means this bantamweight contest should be a chess match between two methodical strikers, and it may come down to which athlete outwits the other.
If Zatout scores the win, he might earn a clash against one of the five ranked bantamweight kickboxers in ONE. But if Pinto delivers, he’ll prove that he is a force in the division.
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Yodkaikaew Fairtex Vs. John Shink
Fans likely aren’t sure what to expect when promotional newcomers John Shink and Yodkaikaew “Y2K” Fairtex step onto the global stage, but that element of surprise could allow these warriors to steal the show.
Shink, a Nigerian-born athlete who was raised in England, is a striker who later relocated to Phuket, Thailand, so he could sharpen his game at Tiger Muay Thai.
Though still early in his mixed martial arts career, the unbeaten Nigerian flyweight has brilliantly applied his Muay Thai skills to the all-encompassing sport. In his three professional matches, Shink has displayed excellent takedown defense, a dynamic clinch game, underrated BJJ skills, and a killer instinct – the latter of which is reflected in his two knockout victories.
But he could have a “Y2K” problem against Yodkaikaew, a Max Stadium Muay Thai Champion who has punished his mixed martial arts opponents with striking – especially punches and knees.
The Fairtex representative has competed in Thailand’s and China’s biggest promotions, where he has compiled a 4-2-1 professional record. With three knockout victories on his resume – and more hours logged in both Muay Thai and mixed martial arts – Yodkaikaew’s strength may be a little bit stronger than that of his rival.
It will be interesting to see how each man applies their Muay Thai skills on Friday, and if either of them decides to take matters to the ground.
Akihiro Fujisawa Vs. Pongsiri Mitsatit
Mitsatit, a Northern Muay Thai Champion of Thailand, switched sports and started his mixed martial arts career with nine straight wins, including seven via knockout.
However, the Chiang Mai native ran into some trouble when he started challenging the top names in the strawweight division. His ground game was exposed by the likes of former titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito and divisional king Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, leading to a three-bout skid.
Fujisawa has gone through a similar experience. After earning a draw in his debut, the Japanese veteran finished his next five opponents with his blended skill set and was moving up the flyweight ranks. However, he also ran into trouble and finds himself mired in a three-fight losing streak.
This Friday, both athletes will be looking to get back in the winner’s circle – and on the road to World Title contention. To make it happen, they must stick to their strengths and impose their will.
Mitsatit’s stand-up arsenal has already finished quality strikers like Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado and Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan, so he will try to end things on the feet. But if Fujisawa can mix up his strikes with his grappling, he might just wipe the smile off the “Assassin’s” face.