Fans at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were treated to nine rounds of high-level action, with former World Title challengers and rising stars hoping to position themselves for a shot at gold.
Here, we recap all the kickboxing and Muay Thai action that went down before the main event on Friday, October 21.
Rusu Continues Rise With Pivotal Win Over Murtazaev
Rusu’s pressure was relentless throughout the fight, as he threw endless kicks at the former ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Title challenger. And while Murtazaev mostly remained calm, the Moldovan-Russian’s forward aggression helped him win the rounds.
“Lioncrusher” also withstood a number of head punches from Murtazaev, and he picked up the pace even further during a frantic third round as he continued to press his opponent against the Circle Wall.
Many spinning kicks from both sides were thrown, but Rusu sought to land as many strikes as possible and refused to give his foe any space.
In the end, the 28-year-old earned the nod from all three judges, improved his overall record to 23-4-1, and established himself as a leading contender in ONE’s lightweight kickboxing division.
Vienot Bests Larsen In Three-Round Muay Thai War
Third-ranked contender Jimmy Vienot and #5-ranked Niclas Larsen went the distance in a thrilling featherweight Muay Thai contest between two of the sport’s greatest competitors from outside of Thailand.
The athletes brought contrasting game plans to the Circle, which made for an exciting battle. Larsen swung for the fences, while Vienot opted for a more measured, counterattacking approach.
“JV01’s” head movement and boxing counters were on point throughout the match, although Larsen did get through with some hurtful right hands that snapped the former ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title challenger’s head back.
However, Vienot never looked fazed – even while sporting a big cut over his left eye – and continued to blast Larsen with punches, kicks, elbows, and knees whenever the Danish striker charged forward to attack.
After nine intense minutes, the judges unanimously sided with the 27-year-old Frenchman’s accuracy and shot selection, and he took the chance to call out newly crowned divisional king Tawanchai PK.Saenchai in his post-fight interview with Mitch Chilson.
Puric Overcomes Khalilov In Tightly Contested Affair
Denis Puric scored his first victory in the ONE Championship Circle, overcoming Russian striker Tagir Khalilov via unanimous decision in their catchweight Muay Thai matchup after a heated back-and-forth contest.
“The Bosnian Menace” absorbed some heavy kicks early in the first round but then turned up the heat and began throwing bombs. With just over a minute left in the frame, he used a low kick to set up a left hook that momentarily dropped Khalilov to the canvas.
The next two rounds saw the men alternate in their headhunting, with Puric taking some damage to his face. However, the Bosnian-Canadian persisted in his pursuit of a finish, even as fatigue started to set in.
The final moments were a sheer battle of will as the two exchanged several blows, but Puric remained a powerful presence in the Circle. His perseverance ultimately earned him the decision from all three judges as he improved to 39-12 overall in professional striking action.