Two weeks after staging its first all-kickboxing showcase, ONE Championship returns with another explosive card that’s guaranteed to entertain the global fan base from beginning to end.
This Friday, 29 October, the promotion will broadcast ONE: NEXTGEN live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and the mixed martial artists and kickboxers scheduled for action have a chance to take monstrous steps forward in their respective careers.
Before the action kicks off in “The Lion City,” take a quick look at the stakes behind every matchup on Friday night.
Stamp Fairtex Vs. Julie Mezabarba
Stamp is working toward her dream of becoming the first three-sport ONE World Champion in history. The 23-year-old Pattaya native previously captured the ONE Atomweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Titles, and she avenged the only loss of her mixed martial arts career when she edged out Alyona Rassohyna in the Grand Prix quarterfinals.
If Stamp emerges victorious on Friday, she’ll be one win away from challenging ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee for the gold and possibly completing her dream in 2022.
Mezabarba may not be inching her way toward three-sport glory, but she certainly wants to make her presence felt in the women’s atomweight division in a major way and capitalize on the opportunity that she recently earned.
The Brazilian wasn’t originally in the Grand Prix. In fact, she defeated two-time ONE World Title challenger Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi to earn a spot as an alternate. But when tournament favorite Ham Seo Hee was forced to withdraw due to injury, that opened up a slot for Mezabarba.
Now, Mezabarba looks to extend her improbable run – and she’d love to accomplish that by using her kickboxing to knock out the so-called “golden girl.”
Ritu Phogat Vs. Jenelyn Olsim
The card will also feature the other ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout.
Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat has looked spectacular ever since making the transition from wrestling to mixed martial arts in 2019.
This “Tigress” has amassed a 6-1 professional record and has used her world-class grappling to overwhelm the opposition. In fact, that wrestling, her heart, and her ground-and-pound stylings were enough to seal a come-from-behind win over Chinese knockout artist Meng Bo in the quarterfinals.
But now, “The Indian Tigress” has been thrown a wild card.
Phogat’s original opponent, Japanese judoka Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata, withdrew from their scheduled contest due to an undisclosed medical reason. Replacing her is Team Lakay’s fastest female rising star, Jenelyn Olsim, who may have the wrestler’s number.
Thus far, Olsim has been dominant in ONE. The Filipina striker demolished Phogat’s teammate, Maira Mazar, with her submission skills in a heavier division to become the #5-ranked women’s strawweight contender. And then, in her atomweight debut, she ripped through Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen, who is the only person ever to beat Phogat.
Whoever wins this match will move one step closer toward their dream of being their nation’s first female MMA World Champion and slide into the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Championship Final. But Phogat has extra incentive – if she wins, she’ll also tie Priscilla Hertati “Thathie” Lumban Gaol for most victories in ONE’s women’s atomweight division.
Iraj Azizpour Vs. Anderson Silva
Before the women take the spotlight, fans will get to see a heavyweight slugfest of epic proportions with potential World Title implications.
Iranian kickboxing behemoth Iraj Azizpour was originally scheduled to make his promotional debut against longtime foe, light heavyweight king Roman Kryklia, in a trilogy bout for the inaugural ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Title.
But like Hirata, the Ukrainian colossus was forced to withdraw from the contest due to an undisclosed medical issue.
Though Kryklia and World Championship gold are off the card, Azizpour still has plenty on the line. The Iranian wants to get his ONE tenure off to a solid start and reinforce the fact that he deserves the first crack at the promotion’s heavyweight kickboxing belt.
Anderson “Braddock” Silva is filling in on short notice, but should he hand the Iranian his fifth career loss in what will be his 70th fight, then he would be considered a frontrunner for the gold.
- Julie Mezabarba Wants To Knock Out Stamp: ‘She Is Too Slow’
- 5 Fast Facts About Team Lakay’s Jenelyn Olsim
- Bogdan Stoica: The Weapons That Make Him The ‘Bucharest Bad Boy’
Kirill Grishenko Vs. Dustin Joynson
Those aren’t the only big boys scheduled to throw down.
Grishenko impressed in his ONE debut this past April, as he stopped the “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane hype train to keep his spotless record and 100 percent finishing rate intact.
Joynson will be making his first promotional appearance, but like his European rival, he is also known as a finisher. Though he hasn’t stopped every single opponent, he does possess a 67 percent finishing rate.
On Friday, someone’s “0” has got to go, and the winner could find himself in ONE Heavyweight World Title contention.
Jeremy Miado Vs. Miao Li Tao
This may be the second time these strawweight mixed martial artists are meeting, but both men have a point to prove.
Miao has never forgotten that day, as it marked the only time he has ever been finished. What’s more, it happened in front of his hometown crowd.
The Beijing native desperately wants revenge. He feels it was a fluke and promises he will knock “The Jaguar” unconscious.
Miado, on the other hand, wants to put forth a dominant performance and use this showing as a springboard to a matchup with a top-five strawweight.
Beybulat Isaev Vs. Bogdan Stoica
Opening the show will be a light heavyweight kickboxing matchup between two athletes who have conflicting long-term goals.
After recording the fastest light heavyweight knockout in ONE Super Series history with an 82-second KO of Mihajlo Kecojevic in January, Beybulat Isaev is eager to deliver another stellar performance and convince the organization to inaugurate the ONE Middleweight Kickboxing World Title.
Meanwhile, Bogdan “Bucharest Bad Boy” Stoica makes his promotional debut and begins his charge toward the division’s reigning king, Kryklia. In addition to chasing light heavyweight gold, the Romanian would love to avenge his brother Andrei, who fell to the towering Ukrainian last December in his World Title challenge.