Tonon, Aoki, Grigorian Deliver Finishes On ONE 165 Supporting Card
ONE Championship returned to Japan for a historic evening of martial arts on Sunday, January 28.
ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru featured a mix of rising stars, legendary athletes, and top contenders in high-stakes matchups across kickboxing, MMA, and even special rules.
Here, we recap all of the action that went down before the two World Title main events at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Aoki Makes Short Work Of Lineker In Surprise Openweight Showdown
Japanese icon Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki didn’t let a last-minute change get in his way of a triumphant homecoming, as he submitted former ONE Bantamweight MMA World Champion John “Hands of Stone” Lineker in the first round of their openweight mixed martial arts bout.
With his original opponent, “Super” Sage Northcutt, pulling out due to visa issues for his coaches, Aoki gamely took on the Brazilian heavy hitter – and that gamble paid off.
Timing Lineker’s knee with a takedown, Aoki quickly took a dominant position and rained down vicious ground-and-pound from the mount. As Lineker tried to escape, the former ONE Lightweight MMA World Champion jumped on his back and got the rear-naked choke submission at the 3:00 minute mark of the first round.
The result was Aoki’s 48th career victory and his 35th finish. And by agreeing to fight Lineker on event day itself, the 40-year-old solidified his reputation as one of the baddest men to ever step into an MMA ring.
Holzken Obliterates Akiyama In First Round With Boxing Power
Multiple-time Kickboxing World Champion Nieky “The Natural” Holzken demonstrated formidable boxing skills to secure a technical knockout victory against Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama in their 187.25-pound catchweight special rules super-fight.
In the boxing round of their planned three-frame bout, Holzken dominated from the outset, cornering the Japanese-South Korean MMA legend with relentless pressure.
“The Natural” went on to land a powerful left hook, scoring a knockdown and putting his foe on wobbly legs. As soon as the action resumed, Holzken fired off a punishing body shot and quickly followed with a thunderous right hand that sent down “Sexyama” once again.
Referee Olivier Coste waved off the action at 1:40 of the first round, declaring Holzken the winner. With his first-round finish, the Dutchman also earned a US$50,000 performance bonus.
Grigorian Knocks Out Sitthichai In Epic Sixth Encounter
Third-ranked featherweight kickboxer Sitthichai controlled the first frame with sharp boxing and left kicks, but #2-ranked Grigorian dialed up the pressure in round two.
After finding success with heavy punches to the head and knees to the body, Grigorian saw his path to victory in the final stanza. The 32-year-old bludgeoned “Killer Kid” with hooks, putting him down and out with a right knee to the midsection at 1:20 of the final frame.
The stunning KO earned Grigorian a $US50,000 performance bonus, pushed his career record to 67-12, and kept him in the hunt for another ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Title shot. In the process, he won his second straight fight against Sitthichai after losing their first four matchups.
Tonon Submits Nguyen In Battle Of Featherweight MMA Contenders
After a brief feeling-out stage, Tonon got the body lock and scored a takedown of the former divisional king – and from there, the writing was pretty much on the wall.
The multiple-time BJJ World Champion secured the mount and then continuously attacked Nguyen. It wasn’t long until Tonon had the back, and he officially scored the rear-naked choke submission at the 4:41 mark.
With his crucial victory, the 32-year-old improved to 9-1 with eight finishes. Now, he’s eyeing the winner of the ONE Featherweight MMA World Title unification bout between Thanh Le and Tang Kai at ONE 166: Qatar on March 1.
Miura Overwhelms Hirata In Atomweight Debut
Judo specialist Ayaka “Zombie” Miura made a dominant debut in the women’s atomweight MMA division, showcasing relentless aggression from start to finish against Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata en route to a unanimous decision win in their all-Japanese matchup.
The former ONE Women’s Strawweight MMA World Title challenger set a fast pace in the opening round as she pursued takedowns, but Hirata stayed composed, executing strategic strikes that included a grounded knee and a solid left punch.
For the rest of the match, “Zombie” continued her strategy of closing the distance and persistently aimed for her signature scarf-hold Americana submission. She largely overwhelmed “Android 18” with grappling skills and then survived a last-ditch guillotine choke in the closing seconds.
With her decisive victory, the 33-year-old veteran improved to 13-5 overall and sent a strong message to the atomweight MMA ranks.
Wakamatsu Evens The Score With Kingad In Rematch
After coming up short in the wrestling exchanges back in 2018, the Japanese star flew out of the blocks with his own takedown this time around. Then, he dominated the scrambles and scored with heavy ground-and-pound over the course of three rounds.
Kingad never stopped trying to find an advantage on the mat, but Wakamatsu’s top control, reversals, and aggression earned him redemption over the Filipino stud.
“Little Piranha” left the ring with a clear unanimous decision victory to move his record to 17-6.
Opacic’s Methodical Striking Leads To Victory Over Azizpour
Opacic, who brought a generous 5-inch height advantage into the heavyweight kickboxing tilt, made the most out of his reach. The Serbian avoided a battle in the pocket with the heavy-handed Iranian, opting to instead hammer his opponent’s body with thunderous kicks and hooks in the first two rounds.
By the third stanza, Azizpour’s right rib was already showing plenty of damage. Though he tried to work his way around it and tag his European adversary with a massive blow, Opacic was just too big and too good to get caught in the end.
With the win, Opacic elevated his record to 19-6, and he might have earned himself a long-awaited rematch with two-sport king Roman Kryklia.
Masunyane Grinds Out Hard-Fought Victory Over Yamakita
In a strawweight MMA bout that could’ve very well determined the next challenger to the divisional throne, #2-ranked contender Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane earned a unanimous decision victory and handed local hero Keito “Pocket Monk” Yamakita his first career loss.
Most of the 15-minute battle played out on the ground, where both men fought through frantic scrambles to stay ahead. Yamakita tried to sink in numerous submissions, but the South African defended well and retaliated with ground-and-pound to secure the nod from all three judges.
With the victory, the 29-year-old “Little Giant” nudged his professional record to 10-1 and will undoubtedly keep a close eye on the upcoming ONE Strawweight MMA World Championship bout between reigning titleholder Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks and top-ranked Joshua “The Passion” Pacio at ONE 166: Qatar.
Balart Outpoints Minowa In Battle Of Strawwweight MMA Contenders
Balart utilized his Olympic wrestling pedigree to control his Japanese rival in the clinch during the first two rounds, all while connecting with his looping hooks, leg kicks, and overhand punches.
Minowa didn’t go gently into the night, however. The Japanese rising star came alive in the third and final frame, as he leaned on his boxing and thwarted the Cuban’s attempts to take the fight to the ground.
But in the eyes of two of the three ringside judges, Balart’s grappling and aggression earned him the nod. The victory improved his career record to 12-4 and could move him up the rankings.