Itsuki Hirata, Danny Kingad, Yuya Wakamatsu, More MMA Stars Added To ONE 165 In Japan
A quartet of high-stakes MMA showdowns have been added to the blockbuster ONE 165: Rodtang vs. Takeru card.
Japan will be well represented at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, as five more local heroes are scheduled for action on January 28.
The strawweight MMA division will get a shake-up in the Japanese capital, as four World Title hopefuls will compete at the showcase. Top-five contenders Hiroba Minowa and Gustavo Balart will lock horns, while #2-ranked Bokang Masunyane will face undefeated rising star Keito Yamakita.
Plus, Japanese sensations Itsuki Hirata and Ayaka Miura will collide in a women’s atomweight clash, and beloved Tokyo-based striker Yuya Wakamatsu will attempt to get some redemption from old foe Danny Kingad in a three-round flyweight tilt.
The Saitama native is hungry to renew his World Title push on home soil after competitive defeats to now-ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks and the aforementioned Masunyane.
To do that, however, he’ll have to halt the momentum of Balart.
“El Gladiador” is riding high off the back of a three-fight winning streak, which includes victories over Silva and former ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Yosuke Saruta.
Now ranked at #4, the Cuban Olympic wrestler will likely have words for the winner of the upcoming World Title rematch between Brooks and former divisional king Joshua Pacio if he can successfully leapfrog Minowa.
Second-ranked Masunyane could also insert himself into that conversation.
“Little Giant” will fly the South African flag on Japanese soil as he bids to turn away another local hero. The lightning-fast 29-year-old outworked Minowa in his most recent outing this past April and another win could leave him within striking distance of a World Title shot.
On the other hand, Yamakita made a huge impression in his promotional debut this past March. That evening, he engaged in a captivating three-round war with Silva and left with a unanimous decision win.
Another victory would turn the strawweight MMA division on its head if “Pocket Monk” can repeat the feat against Masunyane in his native Tokyo.
An all-Japan showdown between respected judokas will also take place on January 28, and each female athlete will look to make it a triumphant homecoming.
Hirata kick-started her promotional run with five dominant victories, but she has experienced some adversity since then. Most recently, the 24-year-old suffered a tough loss to former ONE World Title challenger Ham Seo Hee in March.
At ONE 165: Rodtang vs. Takeru, she looks to get back on the winning track. But Miura plans to make a statement in her women’s atomweight debut.
Miura, also known as “Zombie,” spent her ONE Championship tenure causing nightmares in the women’s strawweight MMA division with her trademark scarf-hold Americana and once even challenged “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan for her ONE Women’s Strawweight MMA World Title.
But now, merely a month removed from her first-round submission win over Meng Bo, Miura will drop down to a new weight class and begin her run at Stamp Fairtex‘s ONE Women’s Atomweight MMA World Championship with her compatriot at the Ariake Arena.
As for Wakamatsu, he’ll look to rise up the flyweight MMA rankings and get some payback against his Filipino rival.
Though he fell to Kingad in their exciting three-round battle in September 2018 and now-reigning ONE Flyweight MMA World Champion Demetrious Johnson in March 2019, “Little Piranha” would rebound in epic fashion.
The Japanese dynamo went on a five-bout winning streak to earn a crack at then-ONE Flyweight MMA World Champion Adriano Moraes‘ title.
Wakamatsu could not capitalize on that golden opportunity and even tasted defeat in his next outing. But the Tokyo-based knockout artist reminded the world of the danger that he presents this past July, when he finished Chinese contender Xie Wei inside one round.
Now, he’ll look to climb from his #4 spot in the divisional rankings against #2-ranked Kingad, who has plenty of motivation.
The Filipino striking maestro, who now calls Lions Nation MMA his gym home, displayed well-rounded skills and out-grappled multiple-time Indonesian National Wrestling Champion Eko Roni Saputra en route to a unanimous decision victory this past February.
Should he defeat Wakamatsu once more, then he could potentially secure a shot at Johnson’s 26 pounds of gold.
Stay tuned to onefc.com for more news about ONE 165: Rodtang vs. Takeru.