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ONE: ‘Reign of Valor’ preview (Pt. 1)

ONE: “Reign of Valor” is set for the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon on Friday. The card is headlined by a welterweight title match but the one notable absentee is Aung La Nsang.

The middleweight and light heavyweight champion, who always headlines ONE Championship’s Yangon cards, has a title defense booked in Tokyo next month.

There is no Muay Thai allowed in Yangon but the card does feature several kickboxing bouts. Here’s my preview of the first seven fights:

135 lbs.: Momotaro vs. Kenny Tse (Kickboxing)

Momotato has won kickboxing and Muay Thai titles at a national level in Japan. He won the lightly regarded WBC International 126-pound title, has spent time training in Thailand and looks to be technically sound.

Kenny Tse was absolutely demolished by Petchdam Gaiyanghadao on his ONE “Super Series” debut but this looks to be a much more realistic sort of matchup for the Hong Kong fighter.

135 lbs.: Yuta Watanabe vs. Rui Botelho (Kickboxing)

Yuta Watanabe won the WPMF 122-pound title apparently. A southpaw fighter with a very similar name entered the K-1 Max tournament in 2010, but it’s unclear whether or not they are the same person.

Rui Botelho was KO’d with a spinning back elbow in his ONE “Super Series” debut but caused one of the best Muay Thai fighters on the planet, Panpayak Jitmuangnon, some problems last time out. He’s a southpaw with a hard left kick.

115 lbs.: Bozhena Antoniyar vs. Audreylaura Boniface

Bozhena Antoniyar (1-1) comes from an amateur boxing background and has spent time training at Bali MMA. Her striking is solid, although she doesn’t have too much power, but she was dominated on the ground by Rika Ishige last time out.

Audreylaura Boniface (0-3) has been stopped in all three of her pro fights although she did score a submission win in modified rules Asian MMA bout. The Malaysian looks to be more of a grappler and will want to get this one down.

145 lbs.: Roman Alvarez: vs. Chen Rui

Roman Alvarez (8-2) came very close to stopping Leandro Issa in the opening minute of his ONE Championship debut only for the former bantamweight title challenger to recover and submit him.

He’s going up; against Chen Rui (6-0) who makes his promotional debut with an impressive record that has been compiled at the expense of somewhat mediocre opposition.

115 lbs.: Lin Heqin vs. Jomary Torres

Lin Heqin (8-2-1) is one of several new additions to the atomweight division and will be looking to immediately establish her title credentials. She tends to bounce around and throw a lot of sidekicks, which suggests a background in Sanda.

Jomary Torres (4-2) is coming off back to back decision losses. She trains with the Catalans but doesn’t seem to share their striking prowess although the Filipina has never been stopped.

225 lbs.: Andrei Stoica vs. Tarik Khbabez (Kickboxing)

Andrei Stoica was a huge star with Romanian promotion SuperKombat. He has a background in Wushu as well as kickboxing but will be fighting outside of Europe for the first time in his career.

Tarik Khbabez stopped Alain Ngalani on his ONE “Super Series” debut and this looks like it could be a bit of a brawl. Both men like to walk forwards and throw punches and this probably won’t go the distance.

155 lbs.: Liam Nolan vs. Enriko Kehl (Kickboxing)

Liam Nolan and Enriko Kehl both come from Muay Thai backgrounds. The former beat Anthony Njokuani by split decision last year and is a southpaw with a front foot style who likes to constantly pressurize opponents.

Kehl has faced some top Thai fighters and also holds a 2018 win over England’s Jordan Watson. He is known for his spinning back elbows but won’t be allowed to use them here.

The entire ONE: “Reign of Valor” 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.