The long-awaited mixed martial arts battle will top the bill at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II, which airs from the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Friday, 17 December.
Both men feel a win would earn them a rematch with reigning king Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes for the ONE Flyweight World Title, so they’re extremely motivated to leave “The Lion City” with their hand raised.
Here’s what they’ll need to do to secure victory and work their way toward the gold.
#1 Clinch Is Key For Akhmetov
Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Akhmetov is a master in the clinch, and he will need to make it his mission to force the action at close quarters.
The Almaty native’s striking game has improved massively over the years, and it even helped him to defeat Reece “Lightning” McLaren. But against Kingad’s wushu acumen, the Kazakh National Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion will be better off using his grappling skills to close the distance.
If he can make the Filipino respect his powerful left cross, he can back him up to the Circle Wall and tie up his upper body.
Once he has a grip on his rivals, Akhmetov is hard to shake off. He will have noted that “The Hunter” Xie Wei found some success against the Circle Wall when he fought Kingad and should feel like he can dominate even more from that position.
Expect “The Kazakh” to score with hard punches and knees when they’re clinched up, all the while looking for his chance to throw or drop levels for takedowns.
#2 Kingad’s Kicks
“The King” needs to keep out of his rival’s clutches to make the most of his striking advantage, and his kicks could be the biggest tool to help him with this goal.
As an orthodox striker going against a southpaw, Kingad should be aiming to use his heavy right low kick to target the inner thigh and fast left low kick to damage the outer thigh and calf of the Almaty resident. This will help to accumulate damage and off-balance his foe as he steps forward.
With a heavy, immobile lead leg, Akhmetov’s ability to be explosive and shoot in for takedowns will be dramatically reduced.
The Baguio City man can also try to stem the forward pressure by using his lead leg side kick to the knee and thigh – a technique that is made even easier from the opposing stance.
Kingad should steer clear of kicking to the body as much as possible to prevent “The Kazakh” from catching the leg and dumping him to the mat, but he can keep him guessing and back him up with the famed Team Lakay spinning kicks.
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#3 Akhmetov’s Tight Top Game
It’s unlikely that Akhmetov will be able to get in on the Filipino standout without paying a price – either in energy expended or strikes absorbed – so it’s imperative that he makes the most of any successful breakthrough he can manage.
If he does bring “The King” to the ground, the Arlan MMA Pro Team and Tiger Muay Thai athlete needs to do everything he can to keep him there.
It might not be the prettiest tactic, but Akhmetov – who has won all of his ONE bouts by decision – has to stay glued to his foe and not offer up too much space between them for Kingad to exploit.
That means staying low and scoring with short punches, elbows, and knees on the mat, rather than posturing up for the bigger shots that could open up a window of opportunity for escape.
A steady stream of offense will help maintain control and force more desperation out of Kingad. That could, in turn, offer up chances for “The Kazakh” to advance his position and dominate.
#4 Kingad’s Scrambling Ability
The Team Lakay athletes have certainly evolved on the ground in recent years, but if Kingad is on his back, his main focus needs to be on getting frames between his opponent’s body, making space, and finding a route back to his feet.
The 26-year-old is not the easiest man to hunt down, and he’s even harder to hold down when he uses his athleticism in the right way.
However, “The King” could get sidetracked looking for submissions that don’t come off, which may be a desirable way to finish the contest, but unlikely, given Akhmetov’s elite grappling skills.
If Kingad manages to open up space, then getting back to his feet and establishing some distance where he can comfortably strike is a primary objective.
If he hits a sweep, a stand-up is always an option, but he does also have a strong top game that he could employ to flip the script on his wrestling rival.
Read more: 5 Reasons To Watch ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II