Where We Stand In The ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix
The first-ever ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix got underway with some exciting matchups last week.
The semifinal fights at ONE 161 showcased the skill and ferocity of the mammoth strikers, while the alternate bout at ONE on Prime Video 2 offered up another display of power from one of the division’s rising stars.
Here’s where we stand ahead of the final showdown for the tournament’s coveted silver belt.
The Semifinal Winners
Iraj Azizpour punched his ticket to the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final with an assured unanimous decision victory over Bruno Chaves.
The Iranian tank was rarely troubled against the debuting Brazilian, using his experience inside the Circle to gain the upper hand.
Even when Chaves started well with stiff right hands and low kicks, Azizpour’s speed was telling. And as the latter grew into the contest, he started to unleash more of his arsenal, including hard overhand rights and spinning kicks.
Soon after, Roman Kryklia didn’t need as long to dispatch Guto Inocente.
The reigning ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion took just 52 seconds to finish his rival and solidify his position as the tournament favorite.
A crushing right hand dropped Inocente early, and when the Brazilian got back to his feet, Kryklia swarmed him and scored with a head kick that sent his man reeling.
The referee stepped in to stop the match when Inocente fell into the Circle Wall, awarding the Ukrainian superstar his 12th straight victory overall and the second spot in the final.
How The Final Shapes Up
Wins for Azizpour and Kryklia teed up a long-awaited rubber match between the two kickboxing stars.
The Iranian handed Kryklia has last defeat in February 2018, winning by majority decision after an extension round when the first three were deemed even.
A year later, the Gridin Gym man got his revenge with a unanimous decision to level the score at 1-1 – which was also the last time Azizpour tasted defeat.
A trilogy showdown seemed inevitable with both men going undefeated in ONE so far, and the winner will make history as the first ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Champion.
Both finalists own concussive power and incredibly diverse skill sets for men of their size, so their third meeting has all the making of a classic.
The Outside Chance
If one of the finalists can’t make it to fight day, there’s a hard-hitting Serbian ready to step in.
At ONE on Prime Video 2, Rade Opacic rebounded from his only promotional defeat with a second-round stoppage of Giannis Stoforidis in their ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix alternate bout.
With a point to prove and a potential spot in the main bracket at stake, Opacic drilled his foe with a cross-hook-cross combination that put “Hercules” down and out.
Now 5-1 with five KO wins in ONE’s heavyweight kickboxing division, Opacic called for the winner of the tournament final – if he doesn’t get his chance against one of them first.