5 Takeaways From ONE 165: Superlek Vs. Takeru

Marat Grigorian Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong ONE 165 9

The world’s largest martial arts organization returned to Tokyo this past Sunday with a massive lineup of fights.

ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru was everything a combat sports fan could want, offering up a mix of high-stakes matchups across various disciplines.

The Ariake Arena was rumbling with anticipation ahead of the main event featuring Japanese icon Takeru Segawa, but a treasure trove of entertainment helped build toward the apex.

At night’s close, there was plenty to digest. With World Champions crowned and top contenders emerging, here are five key takeaways from an epic return to Japan.

Superlek Makes P4P Case With Another High-Profile Victory

After five wild rounds, Superlek Kiatmoo9 retained the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship in hostile territory against Takeru – and made a case to be considered the pound-for-pound best striker on the planet.

The two warriors pelted each other with their signature weapons in an early Kickboxing Fight of the Year candidate, but the Thai superstar got the better of his foe more often than not.

Above all, Superlek showed exactly why he’s called “The Kicking Machine.” His weapon of mass destruction brutalized Takeru’s lead leg over and over, leaving the debuting athlete a one-legged mess.

The 28-year-old has now won nine straight ONE Championship contests across kickboxing and Muay Thai, with back-to-back wins over Takeru and ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon.

With his arsenal of strikes and flawless execution, Superlek’s position as the P4P king may be hard to deny. And he could continue to establish that reputation if he takes on new challenges at bantamweight.

Kade Ruotolo Appears Poised For MMA Debut

After seven months away, Kade Ruotolo looked refreshed and better than ever during his defense of the ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Championship against Tommy Langaker.

In their first meeting last June at ONE Fight Night 11, Langaker nearly dethroned the titleholder. The rematch offered no such dramatics.

Instead, the 21-year-old American phenom was dominant throughout the 10 minutes of action. Ruotolo pressed forward, nearly finishing with a D’Arce choke. Although Langaker somehow escaped, he could only stay on the defensive.

The World Title defense did not just serve as a way to prove Ruotolo’s superiority over Langaker. It was also a message to the MMA world.

With one of the best BJJ games in any weight class, Ruotolo continues to show that he’s ready to test himself in the all-around sport. And it seems the lightweight MMA division will have to deal with his peerless attacks much sooner than they realized.

Tonon, Wakamatsu, Opacic Make Cases For World Title Shots

ONE 165 was a prime opportunity for contenders to position themselves at the top of their respective divisions.

In one matchup, #1-ranked featherweight MMA contender Garry Tonon made swift work of former two-division king Martin Nguyen. “The Lion Killer” worked diligently to secure a rear-naked choke submission, putting him in the catbird seat for the winner of Tang Kai and Thanh Le‘s ONE Featherweight MMA World Title unification match on March 1.

Earlier, #4-ranked flyweight MMA contender Yuya Wakamatsu bested #2-ranked Danny Kingad over three rounds. Always a step ahead, “Little Piranha” made a strong case for a rematch with reigning titleholder and MMA GOAT Demetrious Johnson.

Rade Opacic might have also punched his golden ticket inside the Ariake Arena. The heavyweight kickboxing machine avoided Iraj Azizpour’s haymakers and tallied up his own offense en route to a unanimous decision victory. As a result, he might just compete for the division’s inaugural gold in the near future.

The platform to shine was offered to each of these talented athletes – and they all took full advantage.

Ayaka Miura Makes Statement In Atomweight Debut

Ayaka Miura arrived on the atomweight MMA radar in a major way with a dominant decision win over fellow Japanese judoka Itsuki Hirata.

Miura smothered Hirata from the opening bell, living up to her “Zombie” nickname. The Tribe Tokyo MMA star was tenacious in her pursuit of a submission, and she never gave “Android 18” an inch to breathe for 15 minutes.

The former ONE Women’s Strawweight MMA World Title challenger has added a new wrinkle to the atomweight division’s upper echelon. Now, Miura will set her sights on breaking into the top five.

Marat Grigorian Shows Evolution In Impressive Win Over Sitthichai

Second-ranked featherweight kickboxer Marat Grigorian turned away #3-ranked Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong – and all of his doubters – with his best all-around performance in years. The Armenian superstar might even be evolving into his best form to date.

Although Sitthichai started strong, Grigorian rallied against his longtime nemesis by turning up the pressure. He battered the Thai’s body and set him down for good with a knee to score a third-round TKO.

The Hemmers Gym representative ensured he did not lose any ground in ONE’s stacked featherweight kickboxing division. The 32-year-old appears to be entering a new phase of his prime, and that is a scary proposition for any future opponent.

As Grigorian earned his second straight win over Sitthichai after losing their first four battles, he also put ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Champion Chingiz Allazov on notice for a potential rematch.

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