The Dutch-Surinamese superstar made an explosive debut in April 2018, and then he went on to defeat his legendary compatriot Nieky “The Natural” Holzken for the inaugural ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Championship in May 2019.
Eersel further solidified his standing as the division’s reigning king with an even more convincing performance in their rematch five months later.
Now, with COVID-19 restrictions easing around the world and ONE Championship resuming its flagship event schedule, “The Immortal” could return to action soon. But who does he want to defend his belt against next?
“I don’t have somebody that I definitely want to fight,” the 27-year-old says. “Just give me an opponent and I’ll fight him.”
Fortunately, there isn’t a shortage of highly-regarded challengers. Here, Eersel breaks down the top five contenders from the ONE Athlete Rankings.
#1-Ranked Contender Nieky Holzken
Regian Eersel: I’ve fought him already, of course. Two times. Obviously, there is no more wondering in the rankings because he has two wins (over Cosmo Alexandre and Mustapha Haida). I think it’s right that he’s #1.
He has a lot of experience and he is a really smart fighter. I think his boxing skills are very good if you compare it to other fighters in our weight class.
If there comes a third fight, I would try to knock him out. I’ve learned from the second fight also. I injured my hand in the second fight. In the last 10 seconds of the first round, he countered me good. So, I didn’t take any risks. I just fought clean. If there comes a third fight, I’m definitely going to try to knock him out.
#2-Ranked Contender Mustapha Haida
RE: I think he’s also a strong fighter with a lot of power in his upper body. I saw a knockout from him against Daniel Dawson, and he fought against Nieky, but he lost. I watched that fight live. I was not really impressed by him.
I think I would break him down in the later rounds. Hopefully, I’ll get the knockout, too. Of course, I’m going for the kill, but every fighter is dangerous – especially a southpaw fighter.
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#3-Ranked Contender Anthony Njokuani
RE: His strength is that he’s technical. From what I experienced [in our fight], he’s afraid. If you look to his fight against Andy Souwer, he was technical. He was very good. He used his long arms and legs to keep Andy at distance and fight on the outside.
He did the same thing against me, but I expected it. We have the same reach, so for me, it was easy to just put the pressure on and the knockout just came. Unfortunately, Andy is a lot smaller and had trouble reaching him. I think that frustrated Andy.
[In a rematch], I think I would walk him down. I don’t think he would change the game plan against me.
#4-Ranked Contender Andy Souwer
RE: Andy is a veteran. For me, he’s a living legend. He fought in K-1. He also fought against Nieky.
The funny thing is I trained against Andy a couple of years ago, so we know each other. We fought together in China. If that match comes, it will go the same as it was against Nieky.
It would be a technical fight, but maybe [end with] a knockout because he is way smaller than me. He’s not that tall, you know? Maybe a KO, but you never know because he’s a smart fighter.
#5-Ranked Contender Elliot Compton
RE: Elliot Compton has a fighter’s heart, but I see him as more of a Muay Thai guy. He also fights Muay Thai and uses elbows, so he has more of a Muay Thai style.
I know a lot of Muay Thai fighters are fighting with their hearts, so if I’m fighting against him, I’ll be expecting a hard fight.
I use more of a kickboxing style. I’ve fought a lot of fighters with a Muay Thai background, so I know all the holes in their defense. It would be a good fight for me.