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ONE: ‘A New Era’ preview (Pt. 2)

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Esther Lin

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 two of my three-part preview (click here for part one):

135 lbs: Reece McLaren vs. Kairat Akhmetov (ONE Flyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal):

Reece McLaren (12-5) recently earned a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and proved his mettle by going the full five rounds with Bibiano Fernandes and very nearly coming away with a decision win.

Kairat Akhmetov (25-2) is a takedown-orientated fighter who wants to put opponents on their back and normally goes the distance. McLaren is a bit more diverse and it will be interesting to see whether he elects to grapple with the Kazakh or keeps things standing.

135 lbs: Ivanildo Delfino vs. Tatsumitu Wada (ONE Flyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal):

A semifinal bout against Demetrious Johnson potentially awaits the winner of this bout. There’s no footage on Ivanildo Delfino (8-0) but he holds the Jungle Fight interim 125-pound title and has beaten some good level opponents in Brazil.

It’s somewhat surprising to see Tatsumitu Wada (20-10-2) participating in this tournament after he lost a bout to Danny Kingad that was billed as an eliminator. He is a former Deep flyweight champion who is primarily a grappler and hasn’t had much luck with the judges in his ONE Championship career.

135 lbs: Danny Kingad vs. Senzo Ikeda (ONE Flyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal):

Danny Kingad (11-1) has won five out of his last six fights by decision. He has the classic Team Lakay striking style but tends to shoot for takedowns more frequently than some of his stablemates.

As you would expect from someone with such an impressive boxing record, Senzo Ikeda (12-6-1) hits hard and won’t back down from a brawl. He’s a Pancrase flyweight champion who holds his hands low, likes to bait opponents, and has been known to indulge in a spot of showboating.

170 lbs.: Yodsaenklai Fairtex vs. Andy Souwer (Kickboxing)

Yodsaenklai Fairtex is on an incredible 30-fight winning streak. Not all the opponents he has faced have been of quite the same calibre as Andy Souwer but the Thai southpaw with the brutal left kick will be a strong favorite here.

Souwer’s recent form has been more indifferent. Yodsaenklai won’t be able to use his elbows here so the Dutch fighter will look to use fast footwork to frustrate the Thai but he might struggle to cope with his opponent’s pressure and punching power.

170 lbs.: Eddie Alvarez vs. Timofey Nastyukhin (ONE Lightweight Grand Prix)

Eddie Alvarez (29-6-0-1) is a classic wrestle-boxer. He can use his wrestling to keep the fight standing or take opponents down and loves nothing more than to stand in the pocket and trade punches.

Timofey Nastyukhin (12-4) has shown some innovative striking; the switch flying knee that knocked out Eduard Folayang springs to mind. The safe strategy for Alvarez would be to take him down but the former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion is not known for being a safety-first type of fighter.

125 lbs.: Demetrious Johnson vs. Yuka Wakamatsu (ONE Flyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal):

Everyone knows what Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1) brings to the table. The former UFC flyweight champion’s ability to transition from striking to submissions at lightning speed makes him arguably the best fighter in the world.

Yuya Wakamatsu (10-3) has lost the same number of fights as Johnson but the similarities end there. The Japanese fighter is coming off a decision loss to Danny Kingad and it would be a huge upset if he beat the best flyweight of all time.

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 U.S. it will be streamed on B/R Live.

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