A total of 12 high-caliber athletes will kick off the action in the Singapore Indoor Stadium next Friday, 28 February, and the results of their bouts could have major implications for the complexion of their divisions in 2020.
#1 Can “The Menace” Earn A World Title Shot?
In her ONE debut, Zamboanga stepped onto the home turf of one of the most talented young athletes in women’s martial arts, Jihin “Shadowcat” Radzuan, and walked away with a decision victory.
Her opponent in Singapore is Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi – a true veteran of the sport who is a DEEP Jewels Featherweight World Champion and has twice been within inches of beating Lee in five-round battles for the belt.
Yamaguchi is also riding her best ever winning streak as she hunts for her third shot at gold, which makes her the most in-form athlete in the division. “The Menace” has the biggest challenge of her career ahead of her, but her rewards for winning will match it.
#2 Can Abelardo Stop Worthen’s Wrestling?
The story of “Pretty Boy” Troy Worthen’s first two bouts on the global stage have been remarkably similar. The NCWA Wrestling Champion used his strength and grappling skill to take both Chen Rui and Chen Lei to the mat, and then unloaded with punches to earn second-round finishes.
While the undefeated American says his striking should not be underestimated, he also makes no secret of the fact that this is a striker vs. grappler match-up that favors his skill set.
He also acknowledges that his opponent, Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo, is dangerous off his back, but the Kiwi finisher is most dangerous on his feet or in top position. If Abelardo wants to throw hands and earn his 12th career KO, he will have to stop Worthen from taking him down.
#3 Who Can Recapture Their Featherweight Form?
Both Honorio “The Rock” Banario and Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai enjoyed some highlight-reel wins in the lightweight division, but now the pair have decided their home is where they have enjoyed the most success – at featherweight.
Team Lakay’s Banario claimed every one of his wins in the weight class by stoppage to become the first ONE Featherweight World Champion, while his upcoming opponent from Thailand has ended all but one of his ONE victories with a knockout or submission.
Their histories suggest whoever comes out on top in Singapore will do so in style, which will make them an instant factor on their return to the featherweight ranks.
#4 What Can We Expect To See From Phogat?
Most fans with a basic grasp of mixed martial arts knew what to expect from Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat in her first match on the global stage.
Up against a striking specialist, the wrestling phenom went for a takedown to set up a finish, and the 25-year-old stopped Nam Hee Kim with a barrage of strikes.
After another three months working with the team of elite athletes and coaches at Evolve in Singapore, you would expect her to have taken her mixed martial arts skills to the next level – and she may need them as she takes a step up in competition. “Miss Red” Wu Chiao Chen has a ton of experience from BJJ, various striking arts, and both amateur and professional mixed martial arts.
Phogat says her main focus has been her striking and she wants her first KO finish, so could we see her stand and trade with the Chinese veteran?
#5 Will A New Welterweight Contender Emerge?
Bae is a former AFC Welterweight Champion and became one of South Korea’s hottest properties during a nine-bout undefeated streak between 2010 and 2018. Eight of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage.
His opponent is the latest athlete from Dagestan, Russia, to rise to the world’s largest martial arts organization. The WMMAA World Champion is undefeated at 8-0 as a professional, and has earned all but two of his victories by knockout or submission.
Whoever claims a win in their ONE debut could instantly become a factor in the weight class currently ruled by Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov.