Although ONE: HEAVY HITTERS has gone through some late restructuring, the eight-fight card is still packed with crucial contests.
When the action goes down this Friday, 14 January, two stars will throw down for World Championship gold, top contenders will aim to earn their own title shots, and newcomers will look to dazzle in their big debuts.
Before the curtain goes up on ONE’s first event of 2022, we break down the stakes and storylines for every athlete competing on the main card at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Xiong Jing Nan & Ayaka Miura
With five successful defenses to date, the Chinese superstar is the most dominant women’s World Champion in ONE history. Number six would extend her lengthy reign and push her further beyond atomweight queen “Unstoppable” Angela Lee’s four.
It would also mean the Evolve representative has beaten the top four women’s strawweight contenders, effectively clearing out the division. Miura, however, is not simply coming to play a bit part in the champion’s show.
Taking the gold from Xiong is certainly a big ask, but with four submission victories in ONE – all via her famed “Ayaka Lock” – the Japanese challenger should not be overlooked.
If “Zombie” can get the bout to the ground, she’s got a chance to make history and silence critics who doubt her all-around game. But the power-punching Xiong takes great pride in being a World Champion and will do everything possible to keep the belt within her grasp.
Saemapetch & Tawanchai
Both men are eyeing Nong-O Gaiyanghadao’s ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title, and an emphatic victory in Singapore would be a major statement of intent.
Saemapetch came up short in his first shot at the reigning king back in 2019, but he’s defeated some big names since then in “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai and “The Steel Locomotive” Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym.
For his part, Tawanchai scored a huge debut win over Sean “Clubber” Clancy at ONE: DANGAL but then suffered a setback against kickboxing star Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong. Still, it was a razor-tight thriller that showed the Bangkok resident could hang with the best strikers on the global stage.
Given Saemapetch’s #1 ranking, a win could earn him another World Title shot, while Tawanchai has the chance to step in, steal his friend’s shine, and catapult himself to the top of the list.
James Nakashima & Saygid Izagakhmaev
Saygid Izagakhmaev comes highly touted by his mentor and friend, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and fans can’t wait to see him debut in this lightweight mixed martial arts contest.
However, nothing will come easy against American wrestler James Nakashima, who will be a real litmus test for the Russian’s chances to reach the top.
Nakashima has already earned a ONE World Title shot at welterweight, and he’s a dangerous opponent with a skill set that will challenge Izagakhmaev’s own wrestling base.
Moreover, the MMA Lab representative has seen all of the fanfare around his foe’s arrival in the promotion. He’d love to stop the hype train and get back on the winning track with a lot of eyes watching.
For Izagakhmaev, a win would immediately mark him out as a threat to the division’s top five, while a victory for Nakashima would rekindle some of the momentum he built up in the heavier division.
- ONE: HEAVY HITTERS Gets New Co-Main Event, Card Moves To 8 Fights
- Evolve Coach Bahadurzada: Xiong Has Few Equals In MMA World
- Saemapetch Vs. Tawanchai: 4 Strategic Keys To Victory
Supergirl & Ekaterina Vandaryeva
With the division’s throne currently sitting empty, success for either woman in “The Lion City” would offer a good chance to throw their name into the mix for a shot at the inaugural World Title.
If her blistering fists and famed knees can get the job done, they could tee up a chance for some sibling redemption against American Jackie Buntan – the division’s front-runner who defeated Supergirl’s older sister, Wondergirl, last year.
For Vandaryeva, a win might also bring a chance for redemption against Buntan. The Belarusian lost by judges’ decision in their closely fought three-round war at “ONE on TNT IV” – a bout that “Barbie” thought she deserved to win.
Senzo Ikeda & Elipitua Siregar
Senzo Ikeda and Elipitua “The Magician” Siregar got back to winning ways in their last appearances. Now, both of them will try to start a winning streak that could push them into the strawweight MMA division’s upper echelon.
For Siregar, this is a chance to test his rapidly growing skills against his most experienced rival to date. Japanese slugger Ikeda has 17 pro bouts to the Indonesian’s five, and he’s a savvy combat sports veteran with plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
The 25-year-old “Magician” is still a rising star, and Ikeda would be the biggest scalp of his career. The 39-year-old isn’t done yet, though, and he knows finishing an up-and-comer would hammer home that point.
Contendership is still several fights away for either man, but scoring back-to-back victories would put the victor in a good position to make a charge.
Beybulat Isaev & Giannis Stoforidis
Beybulat Isaev’s recent run of form has been incredible, and he could be next in line for a ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Title shot if he defeats newcomer Giannis “Hercules” Stoforidis in the main card’s opening bout.
However, Isaev has also stated his wish to move down a division and fight at his natural weight class, avoiding a clash with his friend and light heavyweight kickboxing king Roman Kryklia. A victory on Friday could give the Russian a bargaining chip for an immediate shot at the vacant middleweight kickboxing crown.
Stoforidis has no qualms about facing Kryklia, though, and he could enter the World Title conversation with a successful debut against Isaev.
There are some colossal men in ONE Super Series, and the Greek athlete would surely book himself a test with one of the bigger names if he shines in his first appearance.