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ONE: ‘A New Era’ preview (Pt. 1)

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Mei Yamaguchi

ONE: “A New Era” is rightfully being hailed as the best fight card the Singapore-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion has ever put on. With four title fights, two former UFC champions, and the quarterfinals of the flyweight grand prix, the March 31 supershow in Tokyo, Japan, is absolutely stacked.

There’s even a kickboxing match between two of the best stand-up fighters of the century, Yodsaenklai Fairtex and Andy Souwer. Meanwhile, Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Xiong Jing Nan, and Aung La Nsang all defend their respective titles.

The “Prelims” alone feature five fighters who have either fought for or held ONE Championship titles. Local interest is provided by “Land of the Rising Sun” veterans Shinya Aoki, Ken Hasegawa, Yuka Wakamatsu, Tatsumitu Wada, Mei Yamaguchi, and Hiroki Akimoto.

Here is part one of my three-part preview:

170 lbs.: Yoon Chang Min vs. Bala Shetty (Lightweight)

Difficult to know what to make of this one. Yoon Chang Min (0-1) won all four of his amateur fights by decision, but was knocked out by a head kick in his pro debut last year.

That amateur experience should give him the edge over Bala Shetty (0-2). The Indian lightweight has two fights for ONE Championship and has been stopped by strikes in the opening round in both occasions.

135 lbs: Hiroki Akimoto vs. Joseph Lasiri (Kickboxing)

Hiroki Akimoto is a multiple time Karate champion, but looked a bit shaky in his ONE “Super Series” debut, which might also have been the first professional fight of his career.

Joseph Lasiri has lost four fights out of four in the ONE “Super Series.” Given the problems that Josh Tonna caused Akimoto last time out, the Italian striker might feel this represents an excellent opportunity to snap that losing streak.

145 lbs: Panicos Yusuf vs. Mohammed Bin Mahmoud (Muay Thai)

Panicos Yusuf is dangerous with low kicks. There’s no shame in losing to Muangthai PKSaenchaigym, but the Cypriot did claim a decision win over Han Zi Hao, who went on to fight for a ONE “Super Series” title.

Mohammed Bin Mahmoud is also 1-1 in the ONE “Super Series” and neither of those fights have gone the distance. The Malaysian is very aggressive and Yusuf always stands his ground which could make for a fun fight.

135 lbs: Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs. Hakim Hamech (Muay Thai)

Rodtang Jitmuangnon has a reputation for being the wildman of the Muay Thai scene. He likes to stand in the pocket and trade and has shown no respect for his ONE “Super Series” opponents to date.

Hakim Hamech blew away Yukinori Ogasawara in under a round in his ONE “Super Series” debut. He is a powerful puncher and matchmakers were probably anticipating a wild brawl when they put this one together.

170 lbs.: Garry Tonon vs. Anthony Engelen (Lightweight)

Garry Tonon (3-0) is a multiple time no-gi grappling world champion who has breezed past the three opponents he has faced so far. The American hasn’t even needed to rush to take the fights down, he’s been comfortable enough to feel out his opponents and test his stand up.

Seeing as Anthony Engelen (8-5) has a highlight reel KO on his recent resume, Tonon might fight with a bit more urgency here. The Dutchman could cause him some problems with his striking.

115 lbs: Mei Yamaguchi vs. Kseniya Lachkova (Atomweight)

Mei Yamaguchi (18-11-1) is very experienced and tends to go the distance. She holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and has a decent overhand right, even if she doesn’t knock many opponents out.

Kseniya Lachkova (10-2) is ranked very highly and has fought in China and Russia. She constantly switches stances but looks somewhat stiff and upright when striking. I don’t see her posing Yamaguchi too many problems.

The entire ONE: “A New Era” card will be available to view live and free in some territories using the newly launched app which you can download here. In the United States it will be streamed on B/R Live.