The second chapter of the NEXTGEN event series is about to begin.
This Friday, 12 November, the world’s largest martial arts organization will premiere ONE: NEXTGEN II from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and every competitor on the card has plenty on the line.
A pair of bantamweight Muay Thai stars are fighting to be the #1-ranked contender in the division, two featherweight mixed martial artists are looking to break into the top five, and four strikers are vying for two alternate spots in the biggest kickboxing tournament of the year.
Also, four other athletes are desperately trying to kick-start a run toward their ONE World Title dreams.
Without further ado, these are the stakes for everyone competing on Friday.
Saemapetch Fairtex & Rittewada Petchyindee Academy
The man who emerges victorious in this main event will be the #1-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender and possibly the next challenger for ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao.
Saemapetch Fairtex is currently the division’s top-ranked contender – for good reason.
Since falling to Nong-O in a World Title challenge two years ago, the Thai has rattled off three consecutive victories, including a majority decision over #2-ranked Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym and a first-round knockout of #3-ranked “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai.
If he wins again on Friday, the Fairtex man would tie Nong-O and Han Zi Hao for the most divisional victories (6) while taking out the other top World Title contenders. At that point, it would be hard to deny him a rematch for the gold.
Rittewada Petchyindee Academy, however, has an incredible amount of hype behind him.
The debuting superstar is a former Muay Thai World Champion on the Bangkok stadium circuit and holds a stellar 90-25-5 career record. Also, he’s taken out some major names, including top-ranked ONE flyweight Muay Thai contender Superlek “The Kicking Machine” Kiatmoo9.
If Rittewada can defeat the surging Saemapetch in his promotional debut, he could jump to the front of the queue and state his claim for a ONE World Title opportunity.
Tang Kai & Yoon Chang Min
This exciting co-main event could see the winner crack the top five in the featherweight mixed martial arts division.
On one side, Tang Kai has made a strong case to enter the rankings.
The Chinese knockout artist owns a 12-2 career record, is riding a seven-bout winning streak, and has decimated all four of his opponents in ONE, which includes his most recent knockout victory over former Pancrase Champion Ryogo “Katai” Takahashi. Moreover, he’s never been finished in competition.
But “The Big Heart” Yoon Chang Min is a blue-chip talent from South Korea who’s been equally impressive.
Yoon owns a 5-1 record, a 100 percent finishing rate, and most recently shocked the global fan base by submitting Chinese wrestling sensation Ma Jia Wen within two minutes.
Both of these young athletes are rising stars, and a highlight-reel showing should elevate the victor into the featherweight rankings.
Zhang Chunyu & Dovydas Rimkus
The ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix semifinal brackets are set, but the winner of this contest could find his way into the tournament as an alternate.
“Bamboo Sword” Zhang Chunyu has experienced a difficult time on the global stage, falling to legends Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai and Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer. Nonetheless, the Chinese striker was competitive in those outings, and he’s eager to prove that his third time in the Circle is indeed the charm.
But while Zhang wants to turn his luck around and earn his first win on the global stage, there’s a bit more at stake for Dovydas “Rimkenzo” Rimkus.
The 22-year-old Lithuanian phenom wants to deliver a memorable debut and slide into the alternate spot – and the Grand Prix – as the only participant with an undefeated record. Rimkus is 7-0, and if he adds another win, he could potentially enter the field having never tasted defeat.
Jo Nattawut & Yurik Davtyan
Nattawut has created several highlight-reel moments in ONE, but he has a little more fire in his eyes for this matchup. The Thai was eliminated by Giorgio “The Doctor” Petrosyan in the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, so he desperately wants a chance to redeem himself.
Meanwhile, Davtyan raised eyebrows in his promotional debut last year, as he dismantled Bangpleenoi Petchyindee Academy and knocked him out in the second round. If the Armenian-Russian can repeat the feat and finish a second Thai, he could become the most dangerous alternate in the tournament.
Agilan Thani & Hiroyuki Tetsuka
The next challenger for ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov’s crown has not been decided, so the winner of this 86-kilogram catchweight showdown could – at the very least – break into the World Title conversation.
Agilan “Alligator” Thani has a particular interest in that prospect.
The Malaysian sensation is a former ONE World Title challenger who wants to return to prominence, and after Abbasov submitted him in their December 2018 meeting, he would love to even the score.
Though Hiroyuki “Japanese Beast” Tetsuka has yet to tangle with the Kyrgyz titleholder, he certainly wants to get a crack.
The former Pancrase Welterweight Champion has won five of his last six fights, and taking out a former ONE World Title challenger like Thani would go a long way in his campaign for the gold.
Han Zi Hao & Victor Pinto
Opening the show will be a rematch that’s five years in the making.
Victor “Leo” Pinto has long been considered one of the top Westerners to ever compete in Muay Thai in Thailand, and in July 2016, he beat former ONE World Title challenger Han via unanimous decision in a five-round duel.
But when they meet in the Circle for their second encounter this Friday, things will be a little bit different. Most notably, the pair will collide in a three-round contest wearing 4-ounce MMA gloves.
For Pinto, this represents a fresh start. After losing his two kickboxing bouts in ONE, the Frenchman is returning to his favored rule set in hopes of beginning his charge toward Muay Thai gold.
As for Han, he could earn his third consecutive win and surpass his old foe Nong-O for the most career victories in ONE’s bantamweight Muay Thai division (7).
Read more: 5 Reasons To Watch ONE: NEXTGEN II