Roman Kryklia Wins ONE’s 2022 Kickboxing Athlete Of The Year Award

Roman Kryklia with ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix belt at ONE 163

After a quiet 2021, Roman Kryklia returned with a vengeance in 2022.

The longtime ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion finished the year with a perfect 3-0 mark, three performance bonuses, and the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix Championship.

Kryklia demolished all three of his opponents inside the first two rounds, making him our choice as ONE’s 2022 Kickboxing Athlete of the Year – and our top striker overall.

Returning from a 14-month layoff, Kryklia showed no signs of rust at ONE: FULL CIRCLE in February. The 31-year-old needed less than a round to defend his golden light heavyweight strap against hulking Dutch challenger Murat Aygun.

The Ukrainian superstar was in no mood to rack up rounds after his period of inactivity, marching forward in somewhat uncharacteristic fashion and landing blows on Aygun at will.

After a short right hand put his opponent down, Kryklia quickly closed the show by unloading a devastating body kick and punching combination that sealed the deal after just 2:32 of round one.

However, Kryklia was not content with just one belt.

The light heavyweight kickboxing king moved up a weight class in September when he entered the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix.

And in the tournament semifinals at ONE 161, the towering striker made short work of famed Brazilian knockout artist Guto Inocente.

No feeling-out period was necessary, as Kryklia quickly put Inocente down for the count with a right hand, and then swarmed him until the referee waved off the contest after just 52 seconds.

That semifinal win set up a mouthwatering trilogy bout with Iranian standout Iraj Azizpour in the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix decider at ONE 163 in November.

The pair had met twice before signing with ONE, with the score locked at 1-1 and each man handing the other their most recent defeat. This time, it was Kryklia who took home the bragging rights – along with the 26-pound silver belt.

The Ukrainian survived a dramatic knockdown late in the first round, before turning the tide with a riveting comeback.

In the second frame, he dropped Azizpour with a vicious knee, which was followed by punches. And while the Iranian power puncher survived the count, the rest was elementary, as the referee stepped in to save him from another volley of strikes.

With the light heavyweight kickboxing gold and the heavyweight kickboxing silver belt firmly in his grasp, Kryklia now enters 2023 as the man to beat in both weight classes.

Moreover, he’s widely considered the favorite to claim the inaugural ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Title.

ONE’s 2022 Kickboxing Athlete Of The Year Honorable Mentions

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