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ONE: ‘Age of Dragons’ preview (Pt. 1)

ONE: “Age of Dragons” is set for Beijing this Saturday and matchmakers have obviously decided that stand-up fights will appeal to the Chinese audience. The card is headlined by two kickboxing title bouts.

In the main event, Ilias Ennahachi defends his flyweight kickboxing title for the first time against Wang Wenfeng, who will be looking to become the first Chinese man to ever win a title with the promotion.

The co-headliner pits Tarik Khbabez against Roman Kryklia in another kickboxing title bout. The inaugural light heavyweight belt will be on the line and matchmakers will be hoping these two heavy hitters can produce fireworks.

Here’s my preview of the first six fights:

Hexigetu vs. Ramon Gonzales (Strawweight)

Hexigetu (6-4) is coming off a decision win over a Pakistani fighter on his ONE Championship debut in May. He faces a very different type of challenge here against the taekwondo specialist.

Ramon Gonzales (4-2) might be known for his exploits in the taekwondo world. But the Filipino is riding a three-fight winning streak with every single finish having come by way of submission.

Tang Kai vs. Edward Kelly (Featherweight)

Tang Kai (9-2) is riding a four-fight winning streak that culminated in a very impressive win in his ONE Championship debut. He scored a body kick KO against Korean grappler Sung Jong Lee and will be looking to make a statement here against the Filipino journeyman.

Edward Kelly (12-7) has been in with some tough opponents and also holds a stoppage win over Sung Jong Lee. He tends to come short against the division’s elite making this an interesting litmus test for Kai’s title credentials.

Muay Thai: Enriko Kehl vs. Armen Petrosyan (Catchweight)

Enriko Kehl went to war with Dzhabar Askerov in their Grand Prix quarterfinal match, even if the decision didn’t go his way. He’s been in with the likes of Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong, Yodsaenklai Fairtex and Buakaw Por Pramuk.

Armen Petrosyan has not enjoyed quite the same level of success as his brother. But he is a veteran of around 100 fights who has beaten the likes of Vuyisile Colossa and Dzhabar Askerov.

Yusup Saadulaev vs. Daichi Takenaka (Bantamweight)

Yusup Saadulaev (18-5-1-1) has been on the ONE Championship roster since 2012 and is a BJJ black belt with a strong wrestling game. He packs quite a kick but striking is definitely not his specialty.

Daichi Takenaka (12-1-1) is very unfortunate not to be undefeated. He was heading for a clear decision win over Mark Abelardo when the fight was stopped late on due to a cut but faces a tough test here against an opponent with a similar skillset.

Ritu Phogat vs. Nam Hee Kim (Atomweight)

This atomweight bout pits two debutants together. Ritu Phogat is a wrestling star who has been training at Evolve MMA to prepare for her transition from the mat to the cage.

Nam Hee Kim has a 1-0 amateur record but we don’t know much about her. The challenge for the Korean will be to avoid getting taken down.

Kickboxing: Jorina Baars vs. Christina Breuer (Featherweight)

Jorina Baars is best known for beating Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino in a Muay Thai fight. She has been at the top of the game for several years but has struggled to find suitable opponents at her weight.

Christina Breuer doesn’t appear to have fought outside of Europe and, based on the footage available, she hasn’t been facing opponents of Baar’s calibre.

The entire ONE: “Age of Dragons” fight card will be available to view live and free in some territories using the newly launched app which you can download here.

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