With a Muay Thai World Title main event featuring one of the sport’s greatest strikers and a dangerous underdog, ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES is sure to end with a bang this Friday, 9 October.
But first, five mixed martial arts bouts will go down in Singapore, and all of them should keep fans on the edge of their seats.
Here, we break down three matchups that have the potential to steal the show at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES.
Reece McLaren Vs. Aleksi Toivonen
Before moving down to flyweight, McLaren was consistently matched up against top competition as an undersized bantamweight, but he consistently rose to the challenge.
In addition to that world-class experience, the Australian is a master grappler who expertly combines his wrestling with his elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt pedigree, and he always thinks a few moves ahead.
McLaren brilliantly displayed that in his victory over Anatpong “Mak Mak” Bunrad in August 2017, as he transitioned from position to position to secure a D’Arce choke. Then, he repositioned himself a few times to immobilize his opponent and force the tap.
“Lightning” also possesses devastating ground-and-pound, which he’s used most notably on Mark “Mugen” Striegl and Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat. The Aussie’s shots lowered his opponents’ defenses, which ultimately lead to rear-naked choke submissions in both contests.
Toivonen, however, may be able to avoid those pitfalls.
The Finn is an aggressive grappler and a three-time IBJJF No-Gi European Champion, so the experienced “Giant” could catch on to McLaren’s setups and avoid those traps. Perhaps he could even set up a trap of his own – after all, he does have six submission victories on his resume.
Additionally, Toivonen owns powerful striking, which was displayed in his bout with Akihiro “Superjap” Fujisawa. Ultimately, the Finn’s leg kicks caused the Japanese star to stumble, which allowed the European to take advantage on the ground and wrap up the rear-naked choke victory.
This flyweight battle will be methodical and explosive, and with a spot in ONE’s Athlete Rankings up for grabs, each man will be motivated to go for the finish.
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Amir Khan Vs. Rahul Raju
Raju is riding a two-bout winning streak and will look to continue his climb up the divisional ladder, where he hopes to eventually earn a spot in the rankings and challenge for the ONE Lightweight World Title.
The Indian has a solid double-leg takedown, which he used to great effect in his last bout against Furqan “The Lion” Cheema. If he can figure out a way to shoot under the punches of Khan and topple the Singaporean, he could find himself in a position to sink in his trademark rear-naked choke.
The only thing standing in the way of Raju’s double-legs will be Khan’s sense of urgency. With his father recently being diagnosed with Stage IV brain cancer, the knockout artist wants to fulfill a promise he made to his dad and win the ONE Lightweight World Title while he’s still around to witness it.
With that said, don’t expect Khan to give in so easily. Martial arts fans should expect to see the Khan of old – a man who was known for swinging hammers at his opponents and dropping them one by one.
If the Singaporean can consistently stuff Raju’s takedowns and keep the fight on the feet, he will undoubtedly have a better chance of finishing the Indian athlete.
One only needs to look back at Raju’s last bout as evidence. Even though “The Kerala Krusher” earned the submission win, he did get tagged quite a few times while waiting for the chance to shoot in on Cheema.
If Khan can find the same openings in Raju’s defense, and he does touch his chin with a clean shot, it could be lights out for the Indian – and onward and upward for Khan.
Eko Roni Saputra Vs. Murugan Silvarajoo
One of the most intriguing matchups on Friday’s bill is a 63.5-kilogram catch weight mixed martial arts bout between rising superstar “Dynamite” Eko Roni Saputra and promotional newcomer Murugan “Wolverine” Silvarajoo.
Fans are quite familiar with Saputra. The multiple-time Indonesian Wrestling Champion has seamlessly applied his elite grappling skills to mixed martial arts, leading to early success in ONE Championship.
That was evident in Saputra’s most recent victory over Cambodia’s Khon Sichan.
Just seconds into the contest, the Indonesian launched a massive right hand at the Kun Khmer specialist and then used his forward momentum to take the striker down. From there, Saputra effortlessly transitioned from position to position, unloaded ground strikes, and fished for submissions. Ultimately, it was a rear-naked choke that earned him the first-round victory.
But while Saputra is known for his vaunted wrestling skills, the haters have motivated him to showcase his stand-up arsenal on Friday.
That could be great – or it could lead to disaster against Silvarajoo.
Fans may not be familiar with the Malaysian, but he has the tools to halt Saputra’s momentum. The F3 Boxing Champion trains under ONE lightweight star Richard “Notorious” Corminal and even has a few submission victories in his back pocket. What’s more, Silvarajoo will own a 7-centimeter height advantage over the newly christened “Dynamite.”
Both men are clearly inspired ahead of Friday’s clash, as Saputra wants to silence his critics and Silvarajoo wants to make an instant impact in his debut.
And beyond a personal level, the Indonesia-Malaysia sporting rivalry has added even more fuel to the fire, and neither athlete will want to let their country down.