World Champions tested their craft in new sports, titleholders held down their thrones, and old foes settled their scores.
With plenty of fiery matchups to choose from, here are the top five ONE Super Series bouts from 2021’s first quarter.
#1 Rodtang Jitmuangnon Vs. Tagir Khalilov
When “Samingpri” Tagir Khalilov stepped up to battle ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon under kickboxing rules, not many people knew anything about the Russian debutant.
By the time the bout ended, however, Khalilov had earned himself a new fan base and Rodtang had emerged victorious in his ONE Super Series kickboxing debut.
Rodtang stayed aggressive over the course of three rounds, taking the fight to his adversary. Khalilov wouldn’t be intimidated, though, and popped the Muay Thai World Champion whenever he let down his guard. In the end, the Thai’s punches earned him the win, but Khalilov’s fortitude earned him respect.
It was a similar story for the two women in the next fight on our list.
#2 Janet Todd Vs. Alma Juniku
The veteran star would score the unanimous decision win, but the young Australian came out fired up and didn’t make it easy.
Juniku stayed light on her feet as she pelted Todd from the outside with punches in bunches. “JT” chose to hang back and counter, which made for an interesting bout.
The highlight came in the second round when Todd hit the Aussie with a hammer of a right hand that sent her down, all but clinching the win.
If the first two bouts on our list were knockdown bangers, the next one was chosen for its technical supremacy.
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#3 Giorgio Petrosyan Vs. Davit Kiria
After Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan won the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix, fans eagerly awaited his return to the division.
Petrosyan had won their first battle, and he claimed their second as well, scoring a unanimous decision win over the tough Georgian at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The Armenian-Italian legend used his technical prowess to outsmart and outstrike Kiria, who did manage to clip “The Doctor” on a few occasions. But it wasn’t enough for the Georgian to throw off his rival or take control of the fight, as Petrosyan one-upped his opponent at almost every stage.
While Petrosyan and Kiria settled an old rivalry, the next clash on our list created a new one.
#4 Regian Eersel Vs. Mustapha Haida
ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Champion Regian “The Immortal” Eersel took on the toughest challenge of his career against a tank of a man looking to etch his own name into kickboxing lore.
“The Immortal” ultimately lived up to his moniker, defending his strap against Haida by unanimous decision after five rounds of thrilling kickboxing action.
Haida never made Eersel’s conquest easy, though. “Dynamite” took the very best of what the defending king dished out and kept pressing forward. Even when the Dutch-Surinamese warrior rocked his challenger and it seemed Haida would fall, the Italian bit down on his mouthpiece, stayed in the fight, and made Eersel earn the win.
In our #5 spot, the winning athlete didn’t have to work as hard to score the victory, but his tenacity certainly helped.
#5 Hiroki Akimoto Vs. Zhang Chenglong II
Akimoto had beaten Zhang by split decision in October, and he once again disrupted his rival – this time at ONE: FISTS OF FURY on 26 February.
The Japanese star stayed busy throughout the kickboxing clash and earned the unanimous decision win, forcing “Muay Thai Boy” back to the drawing board.
From the opening to the closing bell, Akimoto stung the Chinese athlete with leg-damaging low kicks and eyebrow-raising boxing combinations. “
Muay Thai Boy” tried to hold off the attacks, but they came in thick and heavy as he gave up points throughout the showdown.