The Incredibly High Stakes Heading Into ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE

ONE Championship is getting its year started in Jakarta, Indonesia, a city that has consistently played host to some of the organization’s most thrilling nights of martial arts action.

The Indonesian capital has held spectacular events since the promotion’s second-ever event, and ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE promises to be no different.

This Saturday, 20 January, the stakes could not be any higher at the Jakarta Convention Center. Let’s take a look at what is in store for some of the biggest names this Saturday.

#1 The Inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship

For both Tiffany “No Chill” Teo and “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan, the culmination of their young careers reaches the apex this Saturday. Both women have worked extremely hard to get to this point in their careers. Not all athletes reach this level, no matter how talented they are, so a tremendous amount of credit should be given to both Teo and Xiong for making it this far.

Still, only one of them can be crowned the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion, and the future titleholder will see her life transformed in ways she would never see in her wildest dreams.

At a perfect 7-0, Teo is on the cusp of superstardom. With the unwavering support of thousands of fans back home in Singapore, she has the chance to make history, and she realizes the significance of this bout. “No Chill” has spent the past four weeks training at Tiger Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, Thailand, away from all possible distractions.

At 28 years of age, Teo is ready to seize the moment and capture her first world title. She definitely has the skill set necessary to accomplish such a feat.

On the other hand, the equally talented Xiong Jing Nan finds herself with the chance to send China into a frenzy. If “The Panda” can emerge victorious, she will not only become the promotion’s first women’s strawweight world champion, but also China’s first-ever world champion in the cage.

#2 A Shot At The ONE Flyweight World Title

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly Stefer Rahardian transformed into Indonesia’s most prominent martial artist.

If you really had to go back and examine his impressive 7-0 career so far, Rahardian’s turning point came in April 2017, when he used his well-rounded skills to dominate Filipino knockout artist Eugene Toquero, and then again later that September, when he scored a signature win over Cambodia’s Sim Bunsrun in just 67 seconds.

On Saturday, the 31-year-old Jakarta native takes on Pakistan’s Muhammad “The Spider” Imran, the former PFC Strawweight Champion, and Rahardian has the chance to turn in another epic performance.

Aside from being the co-main event, this bout is also a ONE Flyweight World Championship title eliminator. Jakarta’s finest is coming very close to knocking on the door of world title contention, and if he can beat Imran, it would certainly launch him into the upper echelon of the division.

Imran, however, will definitely be looking to spoil the party, and use this match as an opportunity to announce the arrival of Pakistani martial arts to the global stage.

#3 World Championship Resurgence

Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki is coming off a pair of failed title bids, as he dropped the lightweight world championship to Eduard Folayang in November 2016, and then fell to Ben Askren in his welterweight world title challenge this past November.

As for former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov, he suffered the first defeat of his 16-bout career when Martin Nguyen knocked him out and captured his title in August 2017.

Now, before the submission wizards resume their cage career, they will try to build some momentum, and claiming victory in the promotion’s second-ever Grappling Super-Match will certainly get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Aoki, a BJJ and judo black belt, is the most talented grappler in all of Asian martial arts. He certainly has the most qualified credentials, winning countless tournaments over the course of his nearly two-decade long career. His reputation as a submission finisher is legendary, and is one of his most obvious advantages.

Gafurov, himself a black belt in BJJ, is a little more deliberate with his ground game, featuring great top control and a knack for sourcing out his trademark move – the rear-naked choke. While Aoki is a threat from almost any position, the Dagestani is no pushover when it comes to the grappling arts, which makes this riveting styles clash all the more special.

There may not be an official title on the line, but a win will certainly help the victor build some momentum towards world championship redemption, as well as give them the distinction as one of only two Grappling Super-Match winners in ONE history.

#4 Bantamweight Dominance

Two of the most talented cage veterans will throw down in what is projected to be a showcase of skill and experience. After all, Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev and Masakazu “Ashikan Judan” Imanari are two of the world’s most skilled bantamweight submission wizards. 

Saadulaev, a former TFC Featherweight Champion, is a high-level BJJ black belt with 11 career submissions and the striking skills to complement them. The 32-year-old from Dagestan constantly hones his skills alongside Gafurov and the wildly popular Khabib Nurmagomedov, so clearly, he has been training with some of the best in the world.

What’s more, Saadulaev is currently riding an impressive four-bout win streak, and will be looking to add a legendary scalp to his record to stake his claim for a shot at gold.

Imanari, on the other hand, is a three-time DEEP Champion who specializes in submission grappling. Nicknamed “Ashikan Judan,” which translates to “The Grandmaster of Leg Submissions,”

Imanari has been a professional for nearly 20 years, and has become feared for his submission skills. In fact, he owns an astonishing 25 submission wins in the cage.

The Tokyo, Japan native has seen his fair share of triumph and defeat, and knows exactly how what to do when he enters the cage against Saadulaev. He’ll be looking to extend his three-bout win streak, prove he still has what it takes at 41 years old to take on the world’s elite, and of course, go for world championship glory.