The ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix promised to be the greatest kickboxing tournament in martial arts, and it has delivered at every turn.
Seven incredible bouts have whittled eight competitors down to two – Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan and Samy ”AK47” Sana – and now they will collide in the final at ONE: CENTURY PART II on 13 October.
Ahead of their clash at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, take a look back at what we have discovered from the competition so far, and what that could mean when these two athletes compete for the World Grand Prix Championship in Tokyo, Japan.
#1 Forget Who The Favorite Is
Petrosyan will be the favorite for almost any match he takes part in thanks to his near-flawless professional career that features just two defeats.
However the same was true for Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, whose near-seven-year winning streak meant he was expected by many fans to blow through the bracket and meet the Italian in the final.
Sana put a spanner in those works with a stunning performance in the quarterfinals, during which he eradicated the Thai icon’s aura of invincibility by defeating him via unanimous decision.
The Frenchman showed that anyone who assumes any contest in this game is a foregone conclusion is dead wrong, and he will be keen to remind his doubters of that on 13 October.
#2 “The Doctor” Is In Red-Hot Form
Though the upset certainly can happen in Tokyo, Sana will have a tough job against a man who appears to be at the top of his game right now.
Petrosyan looked at his technical best in his rematch with Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy as he picked apart the multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion.
He executed the perfect game plan to avoid the Thai’s most dangerous weapons, pepper him with hard punches, and chop at his legs with powerful low kicks.
In August, he had to contend with “Smokin” Jo Nattawut, who had looked unstoppable since their first meeting last April, but the man from Milan looked better than ever as he took him out in the very first round with a perfect left hand.
If he continues to improve, “AK47” could be in for a rough night.
#3 Sana’s Reach Is A Problem For Anyone
“The Doctor” is hardly small for the featherweight class, but his rival will tower over him in the Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Sana is 190 centimeters tall – 12 centimeters more than his rival – and he makes the most of it with long-range strikes.
Yodsanklai felt the full force of them in May. He was met with straight punches to the face when he tried to close the distance, and he was picked off with front kicks that snapped his head back when he was at what he must have thought was a safe distance.
Dzhabar Askerov found the Phenix Muay Thai Paris and Venum Training Camp Thailand representative’s weapons even more difficult to navigate. Though he tried to stay on the outside and throw kicks, he was still in punching range of the lanky Parisian, and found himself on his back when he ate a long counter right hand.
If Petrosyan wants to get his hand raised, he will have to find a way to get inside.
#4 Expect Entertainment
Every bout in the World Grand Prix has more than lived up to the hype so far.
Each of the quarterfinal matches at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON seemed to be better than the last as all eight competitors came in fired up by the prospect of the US$1 million prize at the end of the tournament.
They were followed by an intense rematch between Petrosyan and Petchmorakot, which lived up to their nail-biting, controversial first meeting with three more rounds of high-level exchanges.
Finally, the semifinals played out in contrasting styles, but the Italian’s first-round finish and the Frenchman’s nine-minute domination offered even more entertainment and set the stage perfectly for the grand finale.
If it can even come close to matching the drama of the preceding bouts, then fans will be in for a treat come 13 October.
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization in history has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.