All eyes will be on the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October as three groundbreaking tournaments conclude at the biggest martial arts event of all time.
The most prestigious – in terms of prize money, at least – is the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, which will reward the winner with US$1 million, but to only focus on the cash would ignore the phenomenal athletes and bouts.
Before Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan and Samy “AK47” Sana face off in the final at ONE: CENTURY PART II, take a look back at how eight became two through seven fantastic contests in the past few months.
The Big Kick-Off
The anticipation was already high when the world’s largest martial arts organization brought eight of the planet’s best stand-up martial artists together for the first tournament of its kind in years, but then it raised the stakes by announcing a grand prize that made it the greatest of all time.
That seemed to fire up the competitors before their matches at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON, particularly on the right side of the bracket, as they produced two of the best bouts of the year.
Just like their first two meetings, it was Askerov who emerged with his hand raised, as the cult hero from Russia threw with power for all nine minutes and unleashed some spectacular rolling thunder kicks.
It would have been reasonable to expect that the action would not get better than that, but fans were then treated to one of the most exciting contests in years. “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex was one of the favorites to win the whole tournament, but he – and the world – was shocked by a phenomenal performance.
The Thai hero had defeated Sana in 2013 as part of his seven-year winning streak, but the Frenchman did not let that bother him one bit as he pressed forward for three rounds and threw more offense than his rival could handle to earn a unanimous decision and progress to the semifinals.
One More Time
The other side of the bracket got martial arts enthusiasts talking all around the world with not two, but three more encounters.
However, things heated up a notch when Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy defeated Petrosyan by the narrowest of margins on the judges’ scorecards after three rounds of back-and-forth action.
It was another big upset, or at least it seemed like it at first. A review of the officiating determined that the Thai star gained an unfair advantage over “The Doctor” because of his use of the clinch, so an immediate rematch was ordered for a few weeks later at ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY.
The second match between this pair of world-class warriors was arguably even better, as both men threw power shots at each other in an attempt to get a stoppage that would leave no doubt about the result this time.
In the end, the Italian did enough to get a unanimous decision and move on to his third bout in as many months.
The big question before the first semifinal at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD was whether Askerov could get inside Sana’s reach to unleash his power.
The answer was an emphatic no as “AK47” made masterful use of his range. A straight right hand put his Russian rival down in round one, and there was no way back from there. Try as he might “Genghis Khan” could not find a way to land his best shots as his opponent did everything right to take a majority decision.
All that was left was to find his dance partner for a date at the Ryogoku Kokugikan as Nattawut and Petrosyan squared off in a rematch of their April 2018 ONE Super Series encounter.
On that occasion, “The Doctor” had put on a signature display of precise, counter-striking brilliance to win after three rounds, but this time he gave the judges some time off.
The five-time kickboxing World Champion planted a perfect straight left hand on “Smokin Jo’s” chin that he stood no chance of getting up from.
That set up an epic clash of styles in the grand finale on 13 October, and if it brings even a fraction of the drama of the World Grand Prix so far, fans can look forward to some enthralling martial arts in the Circle.
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.