It’s shaping up to be a truly special week for ONE Championship.
The world’s largest martial arts organization may be in the midst of hosting a press conference with Prime Video in the United States, but on the other side of the planet, nearly two dozen athletes are getting ready to enter the Circle.
This Friday, July 22, the promotion will broadcast ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. And with 11 bouts spread across MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing, high-octane action is all but guaranteed.
Now, just days away from event night, here are five reasons why you need to watch ONE 159.
A ONE Middleweight World Title Showdown
In the main event of the night, two of the best middleweight MMA fighters on the planet will collide for the gold.
Reinier de Ridder has been absolutely flawless in his career thus far. “The Dutch Knight” holds a perfect 15-0 record, possesses a staggering 87 percent finishing rate, and defeated Myanmar sports icon Aung La N Sang twice in a row to claim both the ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Titles.
The lanky European has made it look easy against his opponents, especially during his tenure in ONE. He has used his size, grappling brilliance, and relentless pressure to overwhelm every competitor who has stood across from him.
Vitaly Bigdash, however, may be the person to shatter De Ridder’s perfect slate and take one of his coveted belts.
The mighty Russian has utilized his potent wrestling skills and stand-up arsenal to great effect, as it has led him to a 12-2 career record, an 83 percent finishing rate, and a ONE Middleweight World Title reign.
To this day, Bigdash feels his reign ended prematurely when the judges awarded Aung La N Sang a unanimous decision victory and the belt following their rematch in June 2017. That has eaten away at the Russian beast, but now, after five years and 22 days, he finally has a chance to reclaim the title he felt he never lost.
A ONE Interim Atomweight Muay Thai World Title Clash
After losing to Stamp Fairtex in the inaugural ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Championship fight in February 2019, Todd rebounded in decisive fashion. She won her next six fights, knocking out three opponents and even beating Stamp to capture the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Title.
Now, she has a chance to become the second two-sport queen in ONE Championship history. But standing in her way of destiny is Fernandez, who looks to shine in her first promotional appearance.
Though the Spaniard is a newcomer to the organization, she is a seasoned veteran. After all, she is a WBC Muay Thai World Champion and a two-time ISKA Kickboxing World Champion, so she knows what it takes to compete at the top level.
And with that in mind, don’t expect Fernandez to leave anything to chance. She knows that it’s rare to challenge for World Title gold in a debut outing, so she’ll look to capitalize on the opportunity.
A True Kickboxing Thriller
There’s lots of Muay Thai and MMA action at ONE 159, especially at the very top of the card. But there is only one kickboxing match, and fortunately, it appears to be a doozy.
Zhang Peimian may be young, but he seems to be the real deal. After punching his ticket to the ONE Championship roster through Road To ONE: China, the 18-year-old proceeded to knock out former ONE World Title challenger Josh Tonna in his promotional debut last March.
That instantly put the teen star on everyone’s radar, and if he were to follow that victory up with another one against Aslanbek Zikreev, he would surely remain there.
But the Russian has already impressed in his brief time on the global stage thus far, taking out former ONE World Title challenger Wang Junguang with his slick offense and earning the #2-ranked strawweight Muay Thai contender’s spot.
Zikreev’s comfort level in both striking disciplines is apparent, and if he can stop Zhang’s meteoric rise in Singapore, then perhaps it could lead to a World Title opportunity.
Strawweight MMA Madness
Some of the most exciting mixed martial arts action lives in the strawweight division, and fortunately, there are four warriors who will look to cement that reputation on Friday night.
Kicking off the main card will be Danial Williams, a Muay Thai specialist who is riding a four-bout winning streak in MMA. He’ll meet Road To ONE: China winner Zelang Zhaxi, a sanda-based fighter who plans to end Williams.
Both men are coming off tough losses, so they are eager to make a statement and get back in the ONE Strawweight World Championship mix. It’s a pivotal moment in each of their careers, as a loss could move them drastically away from the title picture.
A Grappler’s Delight
Finally, ONE 159 features a lightweight mixed martial arts battle between two world-class grapplers who have found success in the sport with their submission prowess.
Marat Gafurov is a menace on the ground, having earned 67 percent of his career victories by submission. In fact, beginning with his first promotional appearance in October 2014, he earned six consecutive rear-naked choke submission victories en route to the ONE Featherweight World Title.
Conversely, Ariel Sexton has earned 77 percent of his wins via submission. But most notably, the Gracie black belt has a pair of reverse triangle keylock victories under his belt, proving he is one of the most creative and dangerous submission wizards in the division.
Between their grappling expertise and underrated striking, fans are in for a true treat.