ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE delivered an incredible selection of nonstop martial arts action on Friday, 28 January, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Over the course of nine gripping mixed martial arts and ONE Super Series kickboxing bouts, fans were treated to everything from tightly contested battles to highlight-reel finishes.
Now that the final hand has been raised and the fireworks have cleared the air, here are the three biggest takeaways from the organization’s second show of 2022.
#1 Kickboxing’s Biggest Tournament Has Its Finale
The ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix has been sensational from the start, and two men now set the stage for its epic conclusion after a pair of dynamic showdowns.
Just a few months ago, #4-ranked featherweight contender Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov eliminated Samy “AK47” Sana with a first-round KO in the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix, and on Friday night he did the same to Smokin’ Jo Nattawut in their co-main event clash.
The semifinal victory booked him the first slot in the tournament finale, where he’ll face Sitthichai “Killer Kid” Sitsongpeenong, the man victorious in ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE’s main event.
In the headliner, #3-ranked “Killer Kid” squared off with longtime foe Davit Kiria in a trilogy bout. The Thai legend looked as sharp as ever against the Georgian slugger, and he picked up a unanimous decision win in the semifinal tilt to book his place opposite “Chinga.”
The ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final – set to go down at ONE’s 10-year anniversary extravaganza, ONE X, on 26 March – won’t be the first meeting between Sitthichai and Allazov. The Thai picked up a decision win over the fellow Grand Prix finalist in 2014. But over the last eight years much has changed, and Allazov’s knockout streak could make him the man to beat.
#2 ‘The Warrior’ Makes Noise At Lightweight
Chinese dynamo “The Warrior” Zhang Lipeng announced his presence on the global stage last August with a debut unanimous decision victory over former lightweight king Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at ONE: BATTLEGROUND II.
On Friday night, he made it crystal clear that he’s a bona fide contender in the division by scoring a knockout of Kyrgyzstan’s Ruslan “Snow Leopard” Emilbek Uulu after only 32 seconds of their mixed martial arts bout.
While the 31-year-old KLF Champion may feel he already deserves a spot in the ONE Athlete Rankings, breaking through could prove to be difficult given the shark-infested waters he’s swimming in. The lightweight division is stacked with predators like Dagi Arslanaliev, Timofey Nastyukhin, and Iuri Lapicus.
That said, Zhang’s name should undoubtedly be added to this list. “The Warrior’s” picture-perfect combination displayed his bout-ending power, and the fact that he won one of the night’s three performance bonuses certainly moved his name into the conversation.
#3 Brooks Inches Closer To Strawweight World Champion
Third-ranked strawweight contender Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks used his grappling expertise to score a dominant unanimous decision win over #4-ranked Hiroba Minowa in his second outing in the Circle.
Following his victory over the Japanese star, “The Monkey God” once again called out ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio. The Filipino has been in the American’s crosshairs ever since Brooks defeated Pacio’s teammate, Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang, in his ONE debut last November.
The Michigan native’s impressive performance on Friday night certainly moves him closer to a ONE World Title shot, but it isn’t guaranteed just yet. Top-ranked contender Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane may be the next challenger to the Filipino kingpin’s throne.
Nonetheless, a tilt between the World Champion and the outspoken American would scratch every itch a martial arts fan could have. From entertaining trash talk to incredible depths of talent, when these two stars finally collide, it’s going to be one of the division’s most sensational contests.