ONE: “Clash of Legends” is set for the Impact Arena on Saturday (Feb. 16, 2019) and will feature no fewer than five Muay Thai fights. There are also some very interesting Asian MMA matchups in the bantamweight and atomweight divisions.
Mark Abelardo’s match with Daichi Takenaka is a potential bantamweight title eliminator but the same could be said for the fight between Dae Hwan Kim and Shuya Kamikubo. Meanwhile the winner of the atomweight bout between Gina Iniong and Jihin Radzuan could well be set to challenge for the soon to be vacated title.
Here’s my preview of the last six fights:
155 lbs.: Jo Nattawut vs. Samy Sana (Muay Thai)
Jo Nattawut came up short against Giorgio Petrosyan but there’s no shame in being beaten by the best kickboxer on the planet. He’s won his other ONE Super Series matchups in impressive style and will be looking to continue that streak back in Bangkok.
Samy Sana looks very tall for a featherweight but that was also the case with Nattawut’s last opponent, and the Thai fighter passed that particular test with flying colours.
145 lbs.: Mark Abelardo vs. Daichi Takenaka
Mark Abelardo (17-5) earned a ONE Championship contract on the back of his performances on the ONE Warrior Series show but he has been on the scene in Asia for a long time, fighting for both PXC and Legend FC.
Daichi Takenaka (11-0-1) might consider himself to be the number one contender in the bantamweight division. He hasn’t fought in a year after two matchups fell through but this has the feel of a title eliminator.
145 lbs.: Dae Hwan Kim vs. Shuya Kamikubo
Dae Hwan Kim (14-3-1) is coming off back to back wins and hunting for a second title shot. The Korean comes from a Muay Thai background but is more likely to win by submission and is very dangerous with rear naked chokes.
Shuya Kamikubo (9-1-1) is a strong wrestler who tends to go the distance. The winner will be entitled to feel they are close to contention for a bantamweight title shot.
145 lbs.: Kongsak PKSaenchaigym vs. Alaverdi Ramazanov (Muay Thai)
Kongsak PKSaenchaigym famously came from nowhere to snatch the most sought after ‘fighter of the year’ award from Sam-A Gaiyhagandao. He’s never really hit the heights of that year, but still has an impressive collection of stadium titles as well as a devastating left kick.
Alaverdi Ramazanov has shown he has what it takes to beat the top Thais in the ONE Super Series. He’s coming off a decision win over Petchmorrakot Wor Sangprapai when he knocked the Thai down with a spinning back elbow.
170 lbs.: Shannon Wiratchai vs. Tsogookhuu Amarsanaa
Shannon Wiratchai (9-3-0-1) has a habit of scoring spectacular first round KOs against opponents who aren’t quite of his calibre. He is a southpaw with a powerful right hook but tends to come up short against more seasoned lightweights.
It’s unclear exactly which category Tsogookhuu Amarsanaa (4-1) falls into but he’s never been stopped and went the distance with undefeated Deep champion Koji Takeda. This would be the more impressive win of the Thai fighter’s career.
145 lbs.: Muay Thai: Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs. Han Zi Hao (For Inaugural Bantamweight Muay Thai Title)
In Muay Thai terms Nong-O Gaiyanghadao massively outranks Han Zi Hao. In fact, the Chinese fighter has been open about his admiration for one of the best fighters of the decade.
With the win over Fabio Pinca he showed that he still has what it takes to beat elite fighters. But Nong-O has spent his career competing every four or five weeks and might be short of sharpness now that he is only fighting every six months or so.
Nong-O is a real technician who can adapt his style depending on the opponent. That approach might be more difficult with the MMA gloves as hiding behind a high guard is no longer such an attractive option but he hasn’t had any issues so far.
Han Zi Hao was living and training at Lookbanyai for many years, it’s a very traditional Bangkok camp. He is aggressive with punches and low kicks but has not been facing opponents of Nong-O’s calibre.
The entire ONE: “Clash of Legends” card will be available to view live and free in some territories using the newly launched app which you can download here. In the US it will be streamed on B/R Live.