Elliot “The Dragon” Compton always believed the words he once spoke in a faraway hotel would eventually come true.
Back in 2017, the Australian was preparing for a fight in China and had just finished pre-bout weigh-ins. He and his father – who is also his trainer – boarded the elevator back to their hotel room. Just before the doors closed, a man squeezed in to join them.
Compton immediately recognized him as kickboxing legend Nieky “The Natural” Holzken.
The two men briefly locked eyes and nodded at one another, although Compton sensed that Holzken had no idea who he was. When the elevator stopped, everyone got off, and the Australian watched the stocky-framed Dutchman strut down the hallway.
Compton, who hadn’t yet built a name for himself on the global stage, then turned to his father and made a bold statement.
“I told him, ‘I’m going to fight that guy one day,’” the Aussie recalls.
Three years later, that day is fast approaching.
This Friday, #5-ranked lightweight kickboxing contender Compton and #1-ranked Holzken will meet in the co-main event of ONE: BIG BANG II, a previously recorded event that airs from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Compton continues. “I believed it from day one. I never got into this sport to not fight the best and not become the best.”
Holzken embodies what it means to be the best. Not only is the Dutchman the #1-ranked lightweight kickboxing contender in ONE, but he’s a multiple-time Kickboxing World Champion who has competed across the globe against elite opponents.
Throughout the years, “The Natural” has proven to be relentless, durable, and explosive. Those qualities will likely make him the toughest test of “The Dragon’s” career.
“That’s what excites me,” Compton says. “That’s the fight that I want. That’s what makes him dangerous. And the things that are most dangerous about Holzken is what excites me most.
“Neither of us are going to leave that ONE Championship logo. We’re going to stand in it and bang for three rounds.”
Compton may be looking for a good old-fashioned scrap with one of the best kickboxers in history, but make no mistake about it – the Australian has done his homework. He knows that even the most tested warriors have weaknesses, and he’ll be looking to expose Holzken’s come Friday night.
“I think he can doubt himself sometimes if he doesn’t win from the outset,” the 31-year-old Brisbane native says.
“He also doesn’t like being pressured. We saw that in the Regian Eersel [ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Title] fight. As soon as someone puts pressure on him, he’s on the back foot. If we can put him on that back foot and make him respond, or he does respond and come forward, that’s even better.
“As long as I bring my A-game, it doesn’t matter what he brings, or what strengths and weaknesses he has – I’m going to come out on top.”
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Compton is certainly confident in his own strengths, and he believes his unpredictable style will give him the edge once the opening bell sounds.
“You’ve always got to expect the unexpected when you fight me. What makes me dangerous for Nieky is that I’m young and hungry. I have a better point to prove,” the Aussie says.
“But this is what makes this fight even more exciting – he’s coming off back-to-back losses [against Eersel]. He’s got a point to prove, too. So, this really does come down to a matter of willpower.
“I’m going to make sure that I stamp my authority in this fight,” Compton adds. “I know he’s not going to back down. I’m not going to back down. That’s what’s going to make this fight of the year.”
Although he’s looking for an epic clash, “The Dragon” is not worried about the finish. He’ll take the win any way he can, as long as he shows the evolution of his skills.
“It’ll be a stoppage or a points decision,” he says. “But I think all around it’s going to be my explosiveness that awards me that win, whether it goes to a decision or I catch him with the things that we’ve been working on.”
Over the last year, the Australian striker has dealt with a lot of changes. His gym was temporarily shut down due to COVID-19, which forced some major adjustments to his training. Meanwhile, he and his wife welcomed a baby daughter to the world.
It hasn’t been easy, but if Compton defeats Holzken, all the sacrifices he’s made to thrive during these strange times will have paid off.
“A win against Nieky puts me as the #1 contender,” Compton asserts. “This is the money fight. This is what’s going to put our family on the map in the world of kickboxing.
“I’ve made my intentions clear from the start, but I want that ONE Super Series belt. I want the Muay Thai belt and I want the kickboxing belt.
“Other than that, the win cements my legacy. Nieky Holzken is one of the greatest to ever do it in this division – if not the greatest in this division. A win over him – what does that make me?”
It could possibly make him the division’s newest #1-ranked contender. But more importantly, a victory over Holzken would make Compton a household name in the world of kickboxing.
And that means if the two athletes share another elevator after their clash in Singapore, things will go a lot differently than their chance encounter three years ago.
“We shake hands,” Compton says. “Maybe we grab a drink afterwards and we become mates – that’s the idea.”