ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion Roman Kryklia showed why he is the most dangerous athlete in ONE Championship’s heaviest weight divisions on Saturday, November 19.
The Ukrainian colossus finished his longtime rival Iraj Azizpour in their trilogy bout at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong to win the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship Final and claim the tournament’s prestigious silver belt.
With the rivalry tied at one apiece, both men started their third battle at the Singapore Indoor Stadium by firing warning shots at each other. During the opening exchanges, Kryklia unleashed some massive kicks, but the Iranian responded with his thumping right hands.
Azizpour, however, would be the first to land significant damage.
The 34-year-old advanced into the patient Ukrainian’s range with solid rights and exited with stinging left kicks. He even pushed Kryklia onto the Circle Wall and tenderized the light heavyweight kickboxing king’s midsection with a salvo of hooks.
Kryklia responded by trying to cut angles and connect with his long-range weapons. But Azizpour displayed slick footwork and head movement to slip away and chip in with a truck-like hook, which earned him the first knockdown of the ONE 163 co-main event.
The Gridin Gym representative quickly answered the eight-count, but Azizpour refused to give him any breathing room.
As the clock wound down in the opening stanza, the Iranian connected with a spinning backfist and a spinning heel kick, but he couldn’t finish the job before the first round concluded.
To Kryklia’s credit, his punching power, boxing combinations, and thumping knees did land on multiple occasions. And the towering Ukrainian stuck with the same strategy as the second frame began.
The Ukrainian advanced down the center and hit his rival with punches to the head and midsection. Those shots to the abdomen, in particular, seemed to have knocked out the wind from Azizpour’s sail, as he slowly began to fade and backpedal to the Circle Wall.
Kryklia didn’t need an invitation and went to work like a house on fire, attacking the Iranian with a knee to the head and alternating hooks to drop him to the canvas. The Tehran native was down on all fours, but to his credit, he answered the referee’s 10-count.
As soon as the match resumed, Kryklia tagged Azizpour with overhand lefts and straight rights. The Iranian tank couldn’t find a response to that series of attacks, forcing referee Elias Dolaptsis to wave off the contest at the 1:28 mark of the second frame.
It was a spectacular way for Kryklia to claim the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship and push his record to 49-7. His win was made even sweeter by ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, who awarded him a US$50,000 performance bonus.