5 Burning Questions Ahead Of The Stacked ONE 165: Superlek Vs. Takeru Card In Tokyo
ONE Championship is returning to Tokyo, Japan, this Sunday with an incredible lineup that features some of the biggest names in various combat sports.
On January 28, the Ariake Arena will play host to ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru – an all-star 11-bout bill topped by a pair of World Championship contests.
With kickboxing, submission grappling, and MMA matchups on the card, as well as a fascinating special rules contest, there is intrigue coming from all directions for the global fan base.
Here are five burning questions that will be answered when the action gets underway in “The Land of the Rising Sun.”
#1 Will Takeru Prove He’s The Best Flyweight Kickboxer?
Takeru “The Natural Born Crusher” Segawa has dominated the Japanese kickboxing scene for over a decade, winning World Titles in three divisions and emerging as an all-time great. Now, he could solidify that status by winning the ONE Championship gold.
The 32-year-old will challenge “The Kicking Machine” Superlek Kiatmoo9 for the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title in front of a home crowd, and a victory over the Thai icon would see him stand alone atop the sport.
In terms of kickboxing experience, Takeru has the advantage over Superlek, who spent most of his career in Muay Thai. However, “The Kicking Machine” has adapted his skill set to the new rules perfectly to win and defend the flyweight kickboxing crown in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
If “The Natural Born Crusher” can use his heavy hands to dispatch the reigning king, it would leave no doubt about his position as the best of the best – but that won’t be an easy task.
#2 Can Tommy Langaker Get Redemption Against Kade Ruotolo?
After coming up just short in ONE’s best submission grappling match of 2023, Norwegian star Tommy Langaker gets his second chance to challenge Kade Ruotolo for the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title.
Langaker played his part in an exciting battle last June, but his American rival’s intense pressure earned him the victory. However, the challenger has leveled up since their first encounter.
The Wulfing Academy man has won 14 of 15 matches since then, including 11 in a row that culminated in him becoming the IBJJF No-Gi World Champion last month.
With that surge of momentum, combined with his insider knowledge of Ruotolo’s game from their last 10-minute battle, the cerebral grappler might have formulated a winning strategy for the rematch.
The defending World Champion has promised to submit Langaker this time and has made his own improvements since that victory, so it will be a fascinating clash with the most coveted belt in submission grappling on the line.
#3 Could Sage Northcutt Retire Shinya Aoki?
While 27-year-old Northcutt is still plotting his route toward the ONE Lightweight MMA World Title, former divisional king Aoki is likely nearing the end of his competitive career at 40 years old.
Aoki still possesses world-class skills and will go down as one of the greatest submission specialists in MMA history, but without a win in his last four outings, he hopes to prove he can still compete at the highest level.
Meanwhile, Northcutt is coming into his prime and hungry, and he knows an emphatic victory over a legend would help push him toward his goal.
A fifth straight defeat could be devastating for Aoki, and depending on the manner, it could potentially be career-ending. With that in mind, there’s a lot at stake in this lightweight MMA showdown.
#4 Will Sitthichai Or Grigorian Make A Final Run Toward Gold?
The top-three ranked featherweight kickboxers have battled five times in the past, and they both have their eyes on the top prize in ONE.
However, the striking icons haven’t dominated in the world’s largest martial arts organization, trading wins with losses against the elite roster in their stacked division.
With more and more rising stars looking for a shot at Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov’s ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Title, there are no shortcuts, and another defeat could jeopardize Sitthichai’s or Grigiorian’s chances of ever getting another opportunity.
That means a victory is crucial when “Killer Kid” meets his Armenian rival for the sixth time, as slipping down the ladder might drop them too far out of contention to haul themselves back up again.
#5 Will The Next Featherweight MMA World Title Challenger Emerge?
Former ONE Featherweight MMA World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen has vowed not to rest until he reclaims 26 pounds of gold, but #1-ranked Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon is standing in his way.
Tonon has picked up back-to-back submission wins in MMA since losing his own World Title shot to Thanh Le in 2022 – his only career defeat. A third straight victory for the American grappling legend would all but confirm his place as next in line.
Meanwhile, Nguyen is sitting at #3 and has an unrivaled history in the division.
The Vietnamese-Australian star got back on the winning track last time out to show he’s still a legitimate threat, and a crucial win over Tonon could propel him back to the top.