Fans can always expect drama when heavyweights collide inside the Circle, and the mixed martial arts battle between Thomas “The Last Viking” Narmo and Odie “The Witness” Delaney at ONE: BAD BLOOD looks set to be an action-packed thriller.
Norway’s Narmo has a point to prove following a disappointing no contest in his first ONE Championship appearance. Meanwhile, Delaney wants to kick-start his promotional tenure on the right foot.
There’s a lot at stake in their clash at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, as well as in the burgeoning heavyweight landscape, where both men want to make a big impact.
To do this, Narmo headed to Sweden to sharpen his skills at the elite Allstars Training Center, and he feels well prepared after his time with the high-level athletes there.
“They have some good heavyweights, so it is pretty good for me. I feel good,” he says.
“My family has been really supportive [about training in Sweden]. Obviously, I would like to spend time with my family all the time, but it gives you extra motivation to go harder. To go away and put everything on hold, you should be working [hard] to show what you’re doing.”
Delaney has been preparing at the famous American Top Team for his first big-league outing. It’s been his dream to compete for the world’s largest martial arts organization, so he wants to deliver an unforgettable performance when he steps into the Circle for the first time.
“Honestly, I was a little bit overwhelmed [when I got the call] because I had told people from the beginning that my desire was to fight for ONE,” he says.
“I had read this long article that Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE Chairman and CEO] had done, talking about martial arts and how it should be, and how he’s trying to develop that company. And I was like, ‘Man, one day, if I fight, that’s where I’d want to do it.’
“It’s extremely important [for me to make a big statement in my debut]. My record doesn’t reflect my ability, so this is my chance to show people, ‘Look, I’m 2-0, but watch my record grow.’”
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“The Last Viking” is still a relative newcomer to mixed martial arts, but the former professional ice hockey player has taken to combat sports well.
Narmo has finished all four of his victories inside the distance, but Delaney’s wrestling will be a new test for him in this formative stage of his career. Still, he thinks the American’s experience on the mats could also offer up openings when they come to blows.
“The first round can be a really bad storm [against a wrestler], but then comes round two and three and they’re off the pedal. They’re used to going really hard in wrestling, but it’s one round. MMA is not one round, so it will be interesting to see what his game plan is coming into this,” the Norwegian says.
“Also, if you catch him really good with a punch, is he going to fall back to just pure wrestling, or is he still going to fight MMA? That will be the most interesting aspect for me to solve the puzzle.”
However, Delaney’s life in wrestling and time training with elite heavyweights at American Top Team mean he feels more than confident in his ability to win the match.
“He’s obviously a gifted athlete. I know he was a pro hockey player. He’s very big, athletic, and strong, and he has good cardio. He hits hard. He’s got all that going for him,” the NCAA All-American wrestler says.
“Some of the weaknesses he might have? He’s only been in this for four years. I’ve been wrestling in some form or fashion since I could walk, so I think he’s going to feel something that he’s never felt before.
“And I think he’s in trouble everywhere. The problem is, yes, I’m a wrestler. That’s my strength and I’m happy to wrestle, but I’m also very happy to strike with him.”
There are questions to be answered for both men in this colossal battle, but only one will move forward in the heavyweight division.
Narmo hopes he can get some vital experience against the grappling sensation before scoring an emphatic finish.
“Hopefully, we have an entertaining fight for all the fans. I’ve been training a lot on scrambling, stuff like that. So, I think it will be fun,” he says.
“It would be nice to get a bit tested in the wrestling [department] to see my level and then get out late first round or early second round with a stoppage. And then, hopefully, I’ll be good to go again in a few weeks.”
Conversely, “The Witness” sees himself absorbing whatever his Norwegian rival throws at him and dispatching him in the opening stanza.
“I think he’s going to come after me and he’s going to try to put me down quick because I know I can out-cardio him, I can out-wrestle him, and if I pressure him, he’s going to get caught,” Delaney says.
“The way I see it going down is we’re going to have some striking exchanges, he’s going to the ground, and he’s going to get tapped out in the first round. That’s how I envision it.”