The headliner of ONE: NEXTGEN II has Muay Thai fans around the world nibbling at their fingers.
In that main event, #1-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender Saemapetch Fairtex will attempt to stop debuting star Rittewada Petchyindee Academy from taking his top spot and getting a crack at divisional king Nong-O Gaiyanghadao.
However, the rest of the card is loaded with potential Fight of the Night candidates. From classic kickboxing battles to mixed martial arts showdowns, here are three bouts that could steal the show at ONE: NEXTGEN II this Friday, 12 November.
#1 Nattawut vs. Davtyan
The ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix alternate bout between Smokin’ Jo Nattawut and Yurik “Mee Khao Jomhot” Davtyan will be a battle between a ONE Super Series veteran and a fairly new athlete to ONE’s all-striking league.
The last time Nattawut competed in the Circle was in 2019 when he fought Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan in the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix semifinals. However, Smokin’ Jo was stopped in the first round and subsequently eliminated from the tournament.
Before that defeat, the Thai had been riding a four-bout winning streak, which included victories over top-ranked contenders like Samy “AK47” Sana. Now, he’s hoping to beat Davtyan and become the replacement should any of the four remaining athletes in the 2021 ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix have to withdraw.
If he sneaks into the bracket, Nattawut would get a second shot to claim the Grand Prix silver belt and move closer to the man sitting atop the division – newly crowned ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Champion Superbon.
Standing in his way is Davtyan, a fighter with only one bout in ONE Super Series – but an impressive one at that. In his debut, the Armenian-Russian shocked Muay Thai veteran Bangpleenoi Petchyindee Academy via a second-round KO.
Against Smokin’ Jo – who is also the #3-ranked featherweight Muay Thai contender – “Mee Khao Jomhot” will look to prove that his win over Bangpleenoi was no fluke. And earning a chance to enter the Grand Prix would be a huge bonus.
#2 Tang Kai vs. Yoong Chan Min
The featherweight mixed martial arts clash between Tang Kai and Yoon “The Big Heart” Chang Min could very well steal the show, as both men have tremendous finishing skills and some bad blood between them.
On one side of the tape, Tang is 12-2 with 10 of those wins coming by KO or TKO. Moreover, he’s currently undefeated in ONE, riding a four-bout winning streak that includes knockout victories over Ryogo “Kaitai” Takahashi and Sung Jong Lee.
On the other side is Yoon, a dangerous grappler with a 100 percent finishing rate. He owns four submission victories – three by rear-naked choke and one by guillotine – and can throw heat if he has to, which was evident in his KO win over Trestle Tan at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST.
There is also a heated rivalry growing between these two athletes.
Tang is less than pleased with the matchup, saying he wanted to face a ranked opponent next instead of “some unknown fighter.” Yoon quickly shot back, insisting he would teach “arrogant” Tang a lesson. The war of words will certainly add fuel to the fire when these combatants face off.
Moreover, both rising stars have their eyes on the elite fighters in the featherweight division, so expect them to enter the Circle with intent as they strive to enter the top five.
#3 Zhang Chunyu vs. Dovydas Rimkus
Zhang “Bamboo Sword” Chunyu hasn’t had the easiest run through ONE Super Series, although it’s fair to note that he’s only taken on legends. At ONE: NEXTGEN II, he’ll fight someone on the opposite end of the spectrum – a newcomer to ONE in Dovydas “Rimkenzo” Rimkus.
The man from China will look to rebound after suffering back-to-back losses against kickboxing icon Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer and Muay Thai phenom Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai. Expect “Bamboo Sword” to ramp up his attacks on the debuting Lithuanian and prove he belongs on the global stage of martial arts.
Zhang also has more than eight times the amount of experience as Rimkus, so this could be a very tough fight for the 22-year-old debutant.
However, “Rimkenzo” is undefeated in kickboxing, holding a perfect 7-0 record. Moreover, the young phenom will be looking to springboard up the rankings with a win over his more experienced opponent.
Having said that, expect the debutant to put on a show in his first-ever appearance in ONE Super Series, where he’ll look to steal the show at ONE: NEXTGEN II.
Read more: 5 Reasons To Watch ONE: NEXTGEN II