ICYMI: Everything That Went Down In ONE Championship In January 2024

Superlek Kiatmoo9 Takeru Segawa ONE 165 18

The year is off to a hot start for the world’s largest martial arts organization.

With an exciting U.S. primetime event, the organization’s long-awaited return to Japan, electrifying fight cards in Bangkok, and several key matchup announcements, January was a busy month for ONE Championship.

That’s a lot for fans to keep up with. To make things easier, we look back at everything that happened in ONE since the calendar flipped to 2024.

Superlek Spoils Takeru’s Debut To Cement Pound-For-Pound Case

The main event of ONE 165 on January 28 saw “The Kicking Machine” Superlek Kiatmoo9 successfully defend his ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title against Japanese megastar Takeru “The Natural Born Crusher” Segawa.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest kickboxers the sport has ever seen, Takeru came into his promotional debut with a mountain of hype and lofty expectations.

But the Thai played spoiler in front of a packed house at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena, as he was more powerful and technically proficient across five rounds en route to a hard-fought unanimous decision.

Now riding a nine-fight winning streak that includes both kickboxing and Muay Thai victories over the planet’s most skilled fighters, “The Kicking Machine” has firmly established himself as one of the world’s top pound-for-pound strikers.

Now, he could look to further that case by taking on even greater challenges at bantamweight.

A Massive Return To Japan

Beyond that blockbuster main event, ONE 165 in Tokyo provided plenty of high-stakes and intriguing battles.

In the co-main event, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenom Kade Ruotolo looked dominant in his unanimous decision victory over Tommy Langaker, successfully defending his ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Title in a rematch of the pair’s thrilling 2023 bout. 

This time around, the young American erased any doubts about his dominance to solidify his status among the planet’s top submission grapplers.

The Tokyo fans were also treated to a first-of-its-kind special rules super-fight between kickboxing icon Nieky Holzken and MMA legend Yoshihiro Akiyama. While that bout was slated for three rounds of action – boxing, then Muay Thai, then MMA – Holzken scored an overwhelming first-round knockout in his favored rule set.

Japanese icon Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki was set to take on “Super” Sage Northcutt in a highly anticipated grudge match, but the latter withdrew just hours before the fight. As a result, former ONE Bantamweight MMA World Champion John “Hands of Stone” Lineker stepped up to face Aoki in an openweight MMA contest.

While the Brazilian fought with his trademark fearlessness, he ultimately succumbed to a first-round rear-naked choke against the legendary submission ace.

Pivotal Results At ONE Fight Night 18

Earlier in the month on January 12, ONE touched down at Bangkok’s Lumpinee Boxing Stadium for ONE Fight Night 18: Gasanov vs. Oh on Prime Video – the organization’s first U.S. primetime event of the year.

In the main event, Russian standout Shamil “The Cobra” Gasanov bounced back from his first career defeat with a dominant showing against the always-dangerous Oh Ho Taek.

For Gasanov, the win secured his place in the top five of the talent-rich featherweight MMA division, reminded fans and pundits of his World Champion-caliber skill set, and kept him in the hunt for divisional gold.

Notably, the card also showcased the entertaining bantamweight MMA division with a trio of pivotal matchups.

First, undefeated Russian Ibragim Duaev made waves in his promotional debut, scoring a unanimous decision over veteran finisher Mark “Tyson” Abelardo.

After that, #4-ranked contender Artem Belakh put an end to Enkh-Orgil Baatarkhuu’s winning streak with a brutal, highlight-reel knockout.

Finally, South Korean knockout artist “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il displayed his all-around game en route to a second-round stoppage of Mongolian brawler Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg.

Now ranked #3 in the bantamweight MMA division, Kwon might just have secured a crack at reigning titleholder Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade

A Trio of ONE Friday Fights Events

Picking up where it left off in 2023, ONE also returned to Lumpinee Boxing Stadium for three more installments of ONE Friday Fights in Asia primetime.

Among the dozens of world-class contests, several performances stood out.

In the main event of ONE Friday Fights 47 on January 12, Alexey Balyko moved to 2-0 in ONE with a stunning third-round knockout of local hero Suakim Sor Jor Thongprajin to establish himself as a real threat at the elite level.

At ONE Friday Fights 48 on January 19, promotional newcomer Majid Karimi shocked the Bangkok faithful when he finished young phenom Teeyai PK Saenchai. That savage knockout snapped the Thai’s four-fight winning streak and sent shockwaves through ONE’s Muay Thai ranks.

Karimi wasn’t the only newcomer to make a massive statement in his ONE debut. At ONE Friday Fights 49 on January 26, Freddie Haggerty – younger brother to two-sport ONE World Champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty – took out Dankalong Sor Dechapan via second-round knockout in a barnburner.

The young Brit looks to have the skills, tenacity, and ruthless finishing instincts to follow in “The General’s” footsteps and potentially challenge for 26 pounds of ONE Championship gold in the future.

Key Fight Announcements

With all those high-stakes bouts happening, fans might have missed several key contests announced during January.

Set to air live in U.S. primetime from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on February 16, ONE Fight Night 19: Haggerty vs. Lobo on Prime Video is rapidly taking shape – and a pair of intriguing bouts designed to produce fireworks are already on the docket.

The card’s headline attraction will see two-sport king Jonathan Haggerty put his ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title on the line against #3-ranked Felipe “Demolition Man” Lobo in a clash that features two devastating finishers.

There is also some heat in the co-main event, as #4-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender Saemapetch Fairtex squares off against Mohamed “The Buraq” Younes Rabah in a rematch of their controversial December 2023 encounter.

That show will also feature a battle between the best Muay Thai fighters from the United States, as Eddie Abasolo and Luke “The Chef” Lessei – both wildly creative and entertaining strikers – will throw down in a featherweight clash with bragging rights up for grabs.

In addition, English star “Lethal” Liam Nolan returns for his second battle in five weeks, as he collides with Nauzet Trujillo in a lightweight Muay Thai clash.

Also, the spotlight will shine brightly on the strawweights, who will compete under various rule sets. “Mini T” Danial Williams and Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang will meet in a three-round MMA banger, Thongpoon PK Saenchai will face Timur Chuikov in a Muay Thai clash, and Nat “Wondergirl” Jaroonsak will tangle with Dayane Cardoso in a mixed-rules bout.

ONE also added more fights to ONE 166: Qatar, slated to go down at the Lusail Sports Arena on March 1.

Reigning ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Champion Tye Ruotolo looks to defend his gold for the first time when he locks horns with Australian standout Izaak Michell – a match between two ultra-aggressive submission hunters that has BJJ fans salivating.

Also, ONE 166 will see the return of boxing, as undefeated WBC Middle Eastern Champion Zuhayr Al-Qahtani goes toe-to-toe with former ISKA and WBC Muay Thai World Champion Mehdi “Diamond Heart” Zatout, who is coming out of retirement for the historic event.

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