The second edition of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix got off to a blistering start at ONE: FIRST STRIKE on 15 October, and the semifinals matchups look ready to continue that trend.
There were three knockouts in the four quarterfinal encounters, and with every remaining participant capable of delivering a stunning finish, the penultimate round should be just as hard-hitting.
The brackets are set and the stylistic matchups are mouthwatering, so let’s delve into where we stand with three massive kickboxing bouts left to decide a new World Grand Prix Champion.
Semifinal: Marat Grigorian vs. Chingiz Allazov
Grigorian blasted through Andy “Souwer Power” Souwer with a display of relentless punching power, eventually finishing — and retiring — the Dutch legend in round two.
Allazov worked even faster to dispatch Samy “AK47” Sana in his opening contest. The Belarusian launched a blitz of strikes at the 2019 tournament finalist and then capped off the flurry with a crunching left hook to the body at 39 seconds of the first frame.
After those impressive performances, fans can’t wait to see these aggressive sluggers duke it out in the semifinals.
They do have some history — a no contest and a Grigorian decision win — but those fights took place eight years ago, and both men have evolved since then.
One thing that hasn’t changed is their come-forward styles and penchant for finishes. Grigorian and Allazov have 73 combined knockouts in their professional careers, and their upcoming bout will almost certainly be contested in the trenches.
Semifinal: Sitthichai vs. Davit Kiria
Kiria survived some early pressure from Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl in his quarter final bout and then showcased his power to stop the German with three surprising knockdowns in the first frame.
Meanwhile, “Killer Kid” was the only semifinalist who didn’t register a stoppage in his opening battle, but that didn’t make it any less exciting. He went to the wire in a thrilling match against Tayfun “Turbine” Ozcan and took the win via split decision.
Sitthichai is renowned for his technical, long-range style, while Kiria is another marauding puncher with some unique kicks in his arsenal.
The pair have met twice, with the Thai winning by TKO in 2015 and by decision in 2016. However, Kiria has beaten some big names since then, and as the underdog, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The Georgia native has also proven that one punch can change the course of any match, while the calculated Sitthichai is one of the greatest at staying composed under fire. It will be intriguing to see whose approach is the most successful on fight night.
What Could We See In The Final?
There are four potential Grand Prix Championship Final matchups on the table, and every single one would guarantee fireworks.
Grigorian could face longtime rival Sitthichai for the sixth time, or he could find himself in an entirely new matchup against Kiria.
Allazov has the chance for a second bout with “Killer Kid” – seven years after their first meeting – or a first-time tussle with the Georgian.
However the semifinals shake out, there will be two elite strikers ready to wage war in the final of the biggest tournament in the world of kickboxing.
Any Potential Surprises?
In tournament fighting, there’s always the chance that an injury could throw a curveball into the proceedings.
A pair of Grand Prix alternate bouts – “Bamboo Sword” Zhang Chunyu vs. Dovydas “Rimkenzo” Rimkus and Smokin’ Jo Nattawut vs. Yurik Davtyan – will take place at ONE: NEXTGEN II on 12 November, and these hungry athletes would all jump at the chance to enter the bracket and produce an upset.