The martial arts heroes of ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS went face-to-face at the event’s open workout in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, 13 November, ahead of their bouts at the Cadillac Arena.
This Saturday, 16 November, some of the biggest stars from the worlds of kickboxing, Muay Thai, and mixed martial arts will go to battle in the ring as they chase honor, glory, and the biggest prizes in their sport.
Some of the marquee names from the event also took a break from their final preparations to show their skills and answered questions from the world’s media.
The Dutch-Moroccan star shone in August when he claimed the gold in his promotional debut, and he is excited to return to the global stage for a rubber match with an old rival.
“I am familiar with Wang Wenfeng. I think we know each other very well,” he said.
“I’ve fought against him twice already. I’m ready to put this rivalry behind me. I know the Chinese people will be cheering for their athlete – I’m prepared for that and I’m honored to be competing here in Beijing, but a fight is a fight. It does not matter where it takes place.
“I am more than ready to show the world what I am capable of. The feeling is indeed different because when I challenged for the title, I had nothing to lose. And now that I am the champion, I have my belt on the line. All preparations for this fight have gone according to plan. Now the only thing left is to execute.”
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Though his challenger will make his debut in The Home Of Martial Arts, he is full of confidence, and expects to end his trilogy with Ennahachi on top.
“Challenging for the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship is such a huge honor and I will seize it,” Wang said.
“I also want to thank all the Chinese fans for the support. I look forward to putting on a show this Saturday night. Ilias Ennahachi is a tough warrior. He’s a worthy champion, but now, it’s my time, and I’m coming to take the belt.”
The inaugural ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Championship will also be contested in Beijing, and it will also see two familiar foes come to blows.
One of them is Tarik “The Tank” Khbabez, who has raced to a 4-0 record in the world’s largest martial arts organization, and he expects to use his trademark style to claim another victory, continue his streak, and claim the gold.
“They call me ‘The Tank’ because I am strong and very hard to beat. I press forward in one direction. I keep coming and I’m always on the offensive,” he says.
“I want to thank ONE Championship for giving me this opportunity. Competing for the ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Championship is an honor.
“I know this is going to be one of the toughest matches in my career. My belief is that if you train hard enough, you can defeat anyone, and I’ve trained very hard for this bout. I plan to show the heart of a fighter in this one.”
The Dutch-Moroccan has beaten his upcoming opponent, Roman Kryklia, once before, but the man from Ukraine is confident he can gain redemption this Saturday.
“Winning the World Title will mean the world to me. All my life, I just want to prove myself against the very best in this sport,” he said.
“Tarik Khbabez is right up there. He’s undefeated in ONE Super Series and I’m coming in as the new guy. Beating him and becoming World Champion would mean a huge boost in my career.
“I am thankful for ONE Championship for recognizing my achievements and my skill, for giving me the chance to win this title. It comes with a lot of responsibility and I need to perform at my best. I am looking forward to giving the fans a good show.”
ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS will also host the debut of Indian wrestling phenom Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat.
There will be a lot of pressure on the 25-year-old to perform against “Captain Marvel” Nam Hee Kim in her mixed martial arts debut, but she is sure she can live up to the hype and begin her journey to the top.
“I am so excited for my debut. I’ve worked very hard for months so I can give my fans a good show here,” she said.
“I know a lot of people are watching, wanting to see what I can do in there. I’ve trained hard with the World Champions at Evolve. I’ve studied all different kinds of martial arts disciplines, and I’m continuously adding to my repertoire.
“I’ll get better and better each day until I reach my ultimate goal. I want to become a World Champion from India and make history. I want to make my family proud.”
Beijing | 16 November | AGE OF DRAGONS | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast