Breaking Down The ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE Lead Card
There’s another packed lead card in store for ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE, with four exciting battles primed to open the show on Friday, 28 January.
Three of those matchups will come under mixed martial arts rules, while an intriguiging kickboxing clash could have implications for the biggest tournament in the sport.
Here, we preview all the early action that fans will witness live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Smokin’ Jo Nattawut vs. Dovydas Rimkus
With recent cards being drastically affected by COVID-19 safety protocols, there’s a very real chance that the winner of this matchup could step into the tournament – so motivation will be high.
Nattawut returned to form with a stunning KO victory over Yurik “Mee Khao Jomhot” Davtyan at ONE: NEXTGEN II in November, and his power makes him a massive threat to any opponent who stands across the Circle.
Meanwhile, Rimkus earned plenty of new fans with his flashy debut, scoring a crucial win over “Bamboo Sword” Zhang Chunyu in November. His professional record now stands at 8-0, and beating the hard-hitting Thai veteran would be his biggest scalp to date.
This is an interesting clash of personalities between the unassuming Smokin’ Jo and his exuberant Lithuanian rival, but ultimately, their skills will do the talking.
Tatsumitsu Wada vs. Wang Shuo
“Little Whirlwind” Wang Shuo impressed in his knockout return to the global stage at “ONE on TNT II,” which earned him this matchup against experienced flyweight campaigner Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada.
The Chinese athlete is now riding a five-bout winning streak and hopes to crash the division’s upper echelon, but Wada is a tough nut to crack. The Japanese grappler has battled the likes of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Danny “The King” Kingad, pushing both of those stars to the brink.
Fans can expect explosive striking from the 27-year-old Wang, who complements that stand-up game with solid takedown defense.
However, 33-year-old Wada has seen it all across 37 professional contests. He possesses the veteran savvy to navigate his way through tough spots, and this could help him take control the longer the match goes.
“Little Whirlwind” wants to prove he can hang with the world’s top fighters, and “The Sweeper” is the perfect litmus test to see whether the upstart can climb even higher.
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Hiroyuki Tetsuka vs. Zebaztian Kadestam
After being matched up against his fair share of wrestlers recently, former welterweight king Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam will be thrilled to face a man who’s more likely to stand and trade leather.
Against a former titleholder in Kadestam, Tetsuka will have a golden chance to put himself in the division’s World Title conversation, but “The Bandit” won’t go away quietly. Instead, the Swedish slugger is looking to end a tough run and show he’s still a force to be reckoned with.
This is an opportunity for both men to make a strong impression against an opponent who will bring out their best assets. Fortunately for fans, this can only result in fireworks for as long as the fight lasts.
Anderson Silva vs. Paul Elliott
Anderson “Braddock” Silva has shown his class in ONE Super Series kickboxing encounters, but he’s yet to register a win in the promotion’s mixed martial arts ranks.
With that in mind, he’ll look to get off the block in this light heavyweight clash with promotional newcomer Paul “King Of The North” Elliott.
The Brazilian is a world-class striker, but Elliott also comes from a kickboxing background and won’t be afraid to duke it out on the feet.
However, “Braddock’s” grappling might also be tested by the Englishman, who could search for a route to victory on the ground.
Elliott has secured all four of his wins via first-round KO, so he’ll come at Silva hard and fast. The big question is whether the Brazilian’s elite-level experience will allow him to stay composed and find his shot against the surging “King Of The North.”