ONE 166 Co-Main Event Breakdown

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There’s a saying that people are fond of bringing up this time of year and it’s one that fits our subject today quite perfectly: “March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” This March, the roar is louder than ever, and it’s roaring a little earlier than normal.

March 1 sees the beginning of a new month of MMA and ONE Championship wastes no time getting the excitement underway right at the crack of dawn. Friday morning, the nation of Qatar holds its first-ever ONE Championship event, ONE 166. Unlike usual, you don’t need to fork over the money ahead of time to watch the show.

This week, Amazon Prime Video offers ONE 166 live and free to subscribers of the streaming service. All you need to do is get yourself out of bed in the morning and grab your Fire tablet (if you’ve got one). After, just go to your Prime Video app. No more, no less.

Live coverage of this combat sports extravaganza kicks off at 7:30 am ET/ 4:30 am PT and features a full 10-fight card across the disciplines. It even features a contracted catchweight (147 lbs.) in boxing. 

Rematch the Focus for ONE 166 Co-Main Event

You’ll have no fewer than three MMA title fights at the top of the bill, all with a recurring theme: Rematches and revenge. Immediately following a contest for the strawweight championship  (125 lbs.)between titleholder Jarred Brooks (20-2 MMA, 4-0 ONE Championship) and No. 1 contender Joshua Pacio (21-4 MMA, 12-4 ONE Championship), the scene shifts to the featherweight class (155 lbs.)

Note: ONE Championship’s weight classes are based upon a fighter’s usual everyday weight as opposed to prescribed figures as it relates to the weigh-ins and has long-banned dehydration as a means of cutting weight.

Current ONE Featherweight Champion Tang Kai (18-2 MMA, 7-0 ONE Championship) takes on ONE Interim Featherweight Champion Thanh Le (14-3 MMA, 6-1 ONE Championship) to unify the 155-lb. belt. As with most MMA championship bouts, the ONE 166 co-main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round.

The Series So Far

Tang Kai leads the series against Thanh Le 1-0. Back on Aug. 26, 2022, Tang scored a unanimous decision win over Le after five rounds in ONE 160 on YouTube from Singapore. How will the rematch play out?

ONE 166 Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the ONE 166 co-main event on Friday morning, Tang Kai stands as the taller man at 5-foot-10, compared to the 5-foot-9 frame of Thanh Le.  The interim champion owns a 2.1-inch reach advantage (74.5 inches to 72.4 inches) over the permanent titleholder.

As of Thursday, the oddsmakers have Tang Kai installed as a -265 favorite on the money line, with Thanh Le countering as a +200 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Tang Kai Returns After 18 Months Away

Tang Kai enters the ONE 166 co-main event having gone 5-0 in his last five fights. All told, he’s on an 11-fight winning streak predating his time in ONE. In order to find the last time that he sustained a defeat, you’d have to go back to April 6, 2017, when he dropped a three-round decision vs. Asikeerbai Jinensibieke.

Before the original fight against Thanh Le in August of 2022, he scored a first-round knockout (punches) of Kim Jae Woong (13-8 MMA, 4-5 ONE Championship) in March of the same year.

Tang was supposed to have fought Le on July 14 last year during ONE on Prime Video 12 for the original main event, but the fight was scrubbed after he suffered a knee injury. The pairing was rebooked here, a little over 18 months after his last contest.

Having recovered from his injury, can he return to the winner’s circle and unify the title? Tune in and find out.

Thanh Le Wants Violence in ONE 166 Main Event

In the other corner, Thanh Le comes into this co-headliner on a record of 4-1 in his last five fights. Last time out, he returned to the win column with a first-round submission (heel hook) of Ilya Freymanov (12-3 MMA, 2-1 ONE Championship) on Oct. 6 during ONE on Prime Video 15.

During a recent interview with ONE, Le talked about how he wants this title fight rematch to go down.

“It’s going to be a finish,” Le began. “I’m not doing another decision in my entire career. Whether he was happy with it or not- I’m sure he was because he ended up getting a belt that night- that’s not happening again. We’re going to come in hot, press the action, and he’s going to feel my power early. I’ll be honest with you. If we get out of the first round, I’ll be surprised. He’s going to sleep, and he’s going to sleep early.”

A confident statement from the interim champion for certain, but can he deliver?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

While both of these fighters can strike their way to a victory, the edge is given to Thanh Le due to his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and 5th dan black belt in taekwondo, while Tang Kai is a boxer and wrestler.

Watch Tang Kai’s Kicking Game

Sometimes in MMA, much like in gridiron football, the kicking game can be the difference between a win and a loss. Tang Kai’s kicking game is fierce, as was illustrated during his fight against Lee Sung Jong in 2019.

Round two of the fight saw Tang pepper Lee with a couple of leg kicks before going upstairs and connecting on a kick to the head, knocking him out on contact. If Tang Kai can set up a knockout with leg kicks, he’ll defend the title with no hassle on Friday.

Thanh Le Can Also Make Quick Work of an Opponent

In the other corner, Thanh Le is also known to finish a guy in short order. One need look no further than his fight against Yusup Saadulaev in May of 2019.

The second round of a scheduled three only lasted 12 seconds thanks to Le scoring a crisp kick to Saadulaev’s head to put him on the canvas straightaway. If Le can tee up a nice kick, this fight will be over before you can finish a second cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts

Although this one isn’t the main event, it just might be the most brutal fight during ONE 166 early Friday morning. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss it.

Prediction: Thahn Le by Third-Round TKO.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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