Featuring a World Title fight, an epic tournament finale, and four other matchups that could shake up their respective divisions, ONE: WINTER WARRIORS kicks off the final month of 2021 with a bang.
A ONE Super Series World Championship bout tops the stacked card on Friday, 3 December, and a highly anticipated Grand Prix Championship Final fills the co-main event slot.
The supporting card offers plenty of action as well, so there’s tons to look forward to when the Circle door closes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Here are five reasons to catch this weekend’s star-studded event.
#1 Eersel Defends His Gold Against A Surging Contender
Regian “The Immortal” Eersel is the most dominant lightweight kickboxer in ONE Super Series history, but promotional newcomer and #5-ranked contender Islam Murtazaev wants to shock the man with an impressive 56-4 record.
Eersel puts his ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Championship on the line against the Dagestani, who’s foaming at the mouth to get his hands on the belt. However, the ferocious Dutch-Surinamese striker brings an all-out assault to anybody who tries to dethrone him.
For instance, “The Immortal’s” work rate and aggression have earned him a perfect 5-0 slate on the global stage, including three World Title defenses. However, Murtazaev can threaten the titleholder in a new way – he owns a solid striking foundation, but he can pull off unorthodox yet powerful spinning attacks at any time.
The Russian is a fresh, hungry challenger with nothing to lose, but the reigning king takes a backward step for no man, so expect both combatants to burn down the Circle when they square off for the gold.
#2 The Crowning Of A New Grand Prix Champion
The greatest tournament in women’s mixed martial arts history has already delivered some incredible scenes, and the climax has the potential to be even more spectacular.
Both athletes are world-class in their own expertise — #2-ranked contender Stamp is the former ONE Atomweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion, and #4-ranked Phogat is a Commonwealth Games Wrestling Champion.
Despite their contrasting styles, they’ve evolved dramatically in mixed martial arts. Both women own 7-1 records, and they add new skills to their arsenals after each training camp. But this bout to decide who faces ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee still comes down to who can dominate in their respective discipline.
The Thai star thinks that she can exploit the weaknesses of her rival’s chin and body, while “The Indian Tigress” believes her opposite number is scared of her grappling acumen.
On Friday, the global fan base will find out which style prevails when these two women step into the Circle.
#3 ‘The Tank’ Rolls Onto The Battlefield
The 31-year-old Bengbu native is widely regarded as one of the best kickboxers on the planet, and now he gets to showcase his talent on the biggest platform of all. However, he has a tough test ahead of him in the form of the division’s #3-ranked contender.
Akimoto has gone 4-1 in ONE Super Series and is riding a three-bout winning streak. It’s clear the Japanese phenom is constantly improving with every outing by adding to his rich karate background under the tutelage of Muay Thai legends at Evolve.
“The Tank,” who’s competitive Muay Thai and kickboxing record stands at 53-7, has seen it all in his sterling career. What’s more, he’s entering his biggest match to date with an 18-bout winning streak.
Qiu wants to prove that the anticipation for his arrival is worth the hype, and a win could put him in a fantastic position to challenge Capitan Petchyindee Academy for the divisional crown. But Akimoto knows that a win would instantly vault him into elite status, and he’ll be keen to take the high-stakes victory and potential World Title shot.
#4 Hard-Hitting Lightweight Rematch
Their first match at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES in September 2018 proved that, as “Dagi” overcame an early storm to finish his rival with a series of concussive punches.
Since that night, both men had their win streaks halted by Christian “The Warrior” Lee – Arslanaliev in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final in October 2019 and Nastyukhin in his challenge for the ONE Lightweight World Title this past April.
Still, Arslanaliev and Nastyukhin – the #3- and #5-ranked contenders, respectively – remain among the upper echelon and know that a good showing in Singapore will push them toward the gold.
Moreover, seven of “Dagi’s” eight career victories have come in the opening stanza, while Nastyukhin has 11 first-round finishes. This means everyone should expect fireworks for the duration of this tilt, no matter how long it lasts.
#5 Top Contenders Could Emerge
Two intriguing battles kick off the card, and both could put new World Title contenders on the map.
At heavyweight, unbeaten South Korean bruiser “Mighty Warrior” Kang Ji Won has already scored back-to-back KO victories in ONE. A third against BJJ legend Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida could put him next in line after Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin for a shot at the ONE Heavyweight World Title, which is currently held by Arjan “Singh” Bhullar.
Many think that 1-0 “Buchecha” still needs more experience before contesting for the belt. However, he has more than 150 BJJ matches to his name and holds 13 World Titles in the sport. His peers will have to take him seriously if he continues his successful foray into mixed martial arts with a win over “Mighty Warrior.”
In a lighter division, #3-ranked flyweight Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu has his eyes on divisional kingpin Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes. Wakamatsu has taken out some of the division’s biggest names en route to a four-bout winning streak, and he has the knockout power to overcome any adversary.
“Wolf Warrior” Hu Yong, on the other hand, stood out in ONE Hero Series and then neutralized a dangerous striker in Yodkaikaew “Y2K” Fairtex in his big-show debut. A win against Wakamatsu would elevate his stock massively.