There are former World Champions and World Title contenders slated for action on Friday, 22 January, and they want to climb back to the top of their divisions.
There are also rising stars who want to earn their first crack at the gold, but none of them can get there without achieving victory inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
However, these elite athletes have already shown their prowess on the global stage. Here are five of their greatest performances.
#1 Aoki Regains The Gold
It could be a daunting task to rematch an old rival who knocked you out in your first meeting, but former lightweight king Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki didn’t show any signs of fear against Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at ONE: A NEW ERA in March 2019.
At the event, it was the Japanese star’s chance to win back the ONE Lightweight World Title that Folayang had beaten him for almost two-and-a-half years prior.
Aoki began by attacking his foe with his lesser-seen striking skills. “Landslide” absorbed the kicks and began to counter, but then “Tobikan Judan” took things into his usual wheelhouse by pushing the Filipino to the Circle Wall and taking him down to the canvas.
The grappling legend immediately locked up an arm-triangle choke as they hit the floor and never let go of his grip. It took some adjustments as Folayang tried his best to stave off the submission, but there was no escape.
Aoki cinched the choke tighter and tighter until he put “Landslide” to sleep and won back the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
“Tobikan Judan” would lose the crown to Christian “The Warrior” Lee in his next match, but lately, he has been on a roll. Now, he will try to get his third consecutive win against the man below.
#2 Nakashima Snags His Biggest Victory
James Nakashima is the man tasked with slowing down Aoki’s surge back to the top. He’s very capable of doing so, as he showed in his career-defining victory over Yushin “Thunder” Okami at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in August 2019.
Japanese icon Okami was the biggest name Nakashima had faced up until that point, but the American Mixed Martial Arts Champion showed that he was ready for the elite as he dismantled his more experienced foe over the course of three rounds.
Impressively, it was not just the MMA Lab product’s wrestling that came to the fore — although it was a major factor. Nakashima also displayed his improved striking as he dropped “Thunder” with a crunching jab-cross in the second frame.
The Arizona resident also scored with punches and knees in the clinch, reversed positions when he was taken down, and delivered a composed all-round performance to earn the unanimous decision win, as well as a shot at the gold.
Nakashima came up short in his ONE Welterweight World Championship bout last November, which prompted his move to lightweight, where he can become an immediate contender if he defeats Aoki in Singapore.
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#3 Kadestam Scores World Title-Winning KO
The biggest moment of Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam’s career came at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM in November 2018 when he squared off against then-unbeaten American Tyler McGuire for the ONE Welterweight World Title.
McGuire had just used his wrestling to defeat perennial contender Luis “Sapo” Santos, and he wanted to repeat the feat against the hard-hitting Swede with the vacant belt on the line.
“The Bandit” did not subscribe to that game plan, however. Instead, he worked diligently throughout the battle to fend off his rival’s takedown attempts and remain upright. Even when he was dragged to the canvas, Kadestam never stopped working to get back to his feet.
This offered him plenty of opportunities to stand and trade, and the man from Stockholm took full advantage. He blasted McGuire with hard punches to the head and body, as well as constant punishing low kicks. They took their toll over the course of five rounds, but the best was yet to come.
“The Bandit” finished things in style with less than 30 seconds left in the five-round contest. He launched a ferocious right hand that sent McGuire to the canvas, and then he sealed the deal with a quick-fire knee to the head to become the new ONE Welterweight World Champion.
Kadestam no longer has the gold, but he wants to get back on course in his bout against unbeaten welterweight Gadzhimurad Abdulaev in “The Lion City.”
#4 Meng Blasts Through Lumban Gaol
Meng Bo was already highly regarded in mixed martial arts, but her stunning knockout victory over Priscilla Hertati “Thathie” Lumban Gaol at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX II last November cemented her status as a threat to the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title.
Meng looked confident from the opening bell as she held the center of the Circle and tried to find openings. Lumban Gaol initially stayed out of danger with constant movement to maintain the distance, but the Chinese star was just finding her range.
The #2-ranked atomweight contender pressed “Thathie” back to the Circle Wall, and she came closer and closer with her punches. Under pressure, the Indonesian attempted a side kick to keep her foe at bay, but Meng launched a thunderous right hand in reply.
That punch sent Lumban Gaol to the canvas, and Meng followed it up with a flurry of ground-and-pound to get the win after just 86 seconds.
On 22 January, the Changsha native will be aiming for the gold if she can get past former ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title challenger Samara “Marituba” Santos.
#5 Adiwang Ends 3-Minute Thriller By Submission
The powerful Filipino dropped his Thai rival with a left hook in the early exchanges, but Mitsatit managed to hold on and found a way back to his feet.
Adiwang was relentless and took “The Smiling Assassin” back down. He attacked for a scarfhold Americana, which looked close, but the Thai somehow found another escape route and took back control.
Despite the precarious position, “Thunder Kid” latched onto Mitsatit’s right arm and then rolled to isolate the limb on the ground. From there, the Team Lakay representative stepped over his rival’s head to finish the kimura submission.
Adiwang will look to secure another victory at ONE: UNBREAKABLE and insert himself back into the strawweight division’s top five.