ONE Championship will begin to wind down its 2021 with a stacked six-bout event on Friday, December 3, from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. ONE: Winter Warriors will be capped off by a dynamite ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Championship bout between Regian Eersel and Islam Murtazaen.
3 Fights to Watch at ONE: Winter Warriors
But there is plenty more to sink your teeth into on this card.
All six bouts would make any martial arts fan salivate like a rottweiler staring down a steak dinner. It’s an action-packed card with amazing storylines and high stakes. So, what should you be keeping your eye on when the action begins?
Here is a look at three of the key bouts you will need to watch.
The ONE Atomweight Grand Prix Final
The ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix final could not be more compelling. Two of the brightest young stars in the sport, one a world-class grappler and the other a world-class striker, meeting for the first time inside the Circle.
Former ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex is still chasing three-sport gold, but Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat is driven to become India’s first women’s World Champion. The winner will take a big step forward toward their goal as they are granted a title shot against “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in 2022.
And those are just the stakes. What about the stylistic matchup to determine who has developed their all-around game quicker? Stamp has showcased her improved ground game while Phogat has stood toe-to-toe with some of the heavy hitters on her own path toward the final.
This final is intriguing from all angles. Stamp vs. Phogat is likely a matchup we will see on marquees in the future, but this all-important first meeting is exactly the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix final we all deserved.
A Lightweight Barnburner
Are fireworks guaranteed? No. They are already exploding in this matchup.
Timofey Nastyukhin and Saygid Guseyn “Dagi” Arslanaliev previously met under ONE’s bright lights, and that one ended in the first round as Dagi burst onto the scene with a stunning knockout. Nastyukhin wants to even the score and position himself back in the title picture.
Dagi can prove the first match was no lucky punch and reassert himself back as Lee’s top threat with a victory. After battling pneumonia, the Turkish powerhouse dropped a decision to Christian Lee, who came into the match on short notice. He wants to earn a rematch with the champ and have a full and healthy training camp to prepare.
These are not only two of the top lightweight contenders in ONE, but they are two of the most exciting athletes in mixed martial arts today. They throw heat, and the flames will be coming off the leather of their gloves on the undercard of ONE: Winter Warriors. Everyone, including newly-minted ONE Lightweight World Champion Ok Rae Yoon, will be watching.
Is Buchecha A True Contender?
13-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida looked outstanding in his ONE debut. When he returns to the Circle, he’ll have the opportunity to jump right into the thick of the ONE Heavyweight World Championship title picture.
Standing on the opposite side of the Circle will be “Mighty Warrior” Kang Ji Won. The South Korean made himself an instant threat in the division with back-to-back knockouts over Mehdi Barghi and Amir Aliakbari. If he can add Buchecha to the list, his bid for a title shot will be difficult to deny in 2022.
That makes this heavyweight collision a high-stakes affair and puts a lot of pressure on the dynamic grappler’s budding mixed martial arts career.
But that is precisely why you need to watch it. If Buchecha can prove to handle the quick hands of the rising “Mighty Warrior,” then he can prove himself to already be a legitimate threat for the gold. We will see just where the Brazilian stands on Friday.
ONE: Winter Warriors airs live and free via Bleacher Report on Friday, December 3, at 7:30 a.m. EST/4:30 a.m. PST.