ONE Championship makes its grand return to Singapore with Reign of Dynasties on Friday. The main event features the return of Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, who defends his ONE strawweight Muay Thai title against Josh Tonna.

Sam-A is already a living legend in Muay Thai, and he wants to add to his legacy. He is set to make the first defense of the title he won in February when he thoroughly dominated Rocky Ogden at ONE’s King of the Jungle event to become the inaugural titleholder. The victory made him a two-sport champion in the organization where he also won the inaugural strawweight kickboxing strap in his previous fight in December.

His challenger, Josh “Timebomb” Tonna, is coming to the fight on a high note. Tonna is riding the momentum of consecutive victories in which he impressed with his performance. The first of those wins came against Yoshihisha “Mad Dog” Morimoto via unanimous decision in July 2019. The next was a knockout victory over Muay Thai world champion Andy “Punisher” Howson. Tonna now aims to claim the biggest win of his career by upsetting a Muay Thai legend.


Advertisement

The co-headliner of the evening is an MMA battle between flyweight standouts Reece “Lightning” McLaren and Aleksi “The Giant” Toivonen. This is an important fight for both fighters, as a win here could help take them one step closer to a title bid against flyweight kingpin Adriano Moraes. McLaren intends to defend his high rank in the division, while Toivonen aims to continue his unbeaten run as a mixed martial artist.

The lightweight clash between Amir Khan and Raul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju is an interesting one. The ONE stalwart Khan is at a curious point in his career. He has lost four of his last five bouts, so he needs an impressive showing to turn things around. Raju, meanwhile, intends to build on his current two-fight winning streak.

Three additional MMA battles complete the card. Eko Roni Saputra of Indonesia fights Murugan Silvarajoo of Malaysia in a catchweight bout at 63.5 kilograms, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke of Thailand battles Hexigetu of China in a strawweight match, and the night starts with a match between flyweights Roshan Mainam of India and Liu Peng Shuai of China.

ONE Championship: Reign of Dynasties takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The festivities get underway at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday, October 9. Fans can watch the entire event live on the ONE app and YouTube channel in select regions, while other international viewers can find broadcast details for their specific country here. American fight fans can view the show on the B/R Live streaming platform.

In the evening’s headliner, the Muay Thai strawweight belt is on the line when champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao meets Josh Tonna. Will there be a new titleholder when the dust settles?

Legend versus rising prospect. Experience versus potential. These are the likely themes for Friday’s main event.

To say that Sam-A is a legend in Muay Thai is a huge understatement. His multiple championships and many years of dominance is the prime testament to that fact. Anyone who looks at his fight record — he stands at 369-47-9 — is left with admiration and awe. His absolute mastery of both offense and defense make him such a difficult puzzle to solve for opposing Muay Thai practitioners.

The rising star Tonna challenges the icon. “Timebomb” hails from Canberra, Australia, and has his own impressive credentials, although of course not quite as extensive or legendary as those of Sam-A. Tonna is a former ISKA K-1 world champion and has also won a WMC Intercontinental Muay Thai title. He has amassed over 30 bouts while competing all over the globe. He has recently focused on ONE and has plans to conquer not just the company’s Muay Thai realm, but kickboxing as well.

This fight should start with a back-and-forth effort between the two men. Tonna will take the fight to Sam-A in an effort to overwhelm the champ. He’ll try to apply pressure with his strikes in the hope of eventually breaking down his older foe. However, Sam-A is not just any ordinary Muay Thai champion. He’s a Muay Femur of the highest order who has simply seen it all. There’s nothing that the Australian can throw that he doesn’t have a counter for, and he’ll eventually distance himself from his challenger on the way to a competitive-but-clear decision victory.

Will Aleksi Toivonen be able to keep his perfect record intact in his clash with Reece McLaren?

The co-main event is also a fight to watch, not only in terms of the action that’s going to unfold inside the cage, but also because of the possible repercussions of the fight’s result. McLaren is highly ranked in the division, and he wants nothing more than to climb even higher by getting one or two quality wins. This could potentially land him a spot as the next title challenger to regning ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes.

It will be a difficult task for McLaren to keep his high ranking, however, as his opponent seems to be a fighter on the rise. Toivonen handily won his first fight in ONE when he disposed of Akihiro “Superjap” Fuijisawa in July 2019 with a rear-naked choke in the first round. He’s a multiple-time European grappling champion who later shifted his focus to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and went on to win the IBJJF No-gi Grappling European Championships a few times.

This affair should be an excellent match between two supreme grapplers who also have striking skills. It should be a chess-like match with one trying to outmaneuver the other and waiting for who makes the first mistake. Toivonen will emerge victorious in a very close grappling-oriented classic to keep his perfect record intact.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

The contest between Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke of Thailand and Hexigetu of China.

The Muay Thai legend and the inaugural ONE strawweight world champion Dejdamrong is trying to get his MMA career back on track by claiming a victory on Friday. His MMA career — he’s 11-5 overall — has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, especially lately. He has gone 3-3 over his last six matches.

“The Wolf of the Grasslands” stands between Dejdamrong and a return to his old glory. Hexigetu is coming off back-to-back wins in ONE and would like to make it three in a row. He possesses a much different background than Dejdamrong. Hexigetu’s roots are in wrestling, whereas Dejdamrong is primarily a striker.

This will be a back-and-forth affair that should end in a razor-thin decision for the Muay Thai icon.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
Main Card (B/R Live, 8:30 a.m. ET)
Muay Thai (StrawW Championship): Sam-A Gaiyanghadao vs. Josh Tonna Sam-A
MMA (FlyW): Aleksi Toivonen vs. Reece McLaren Toivonen
MMA (LW): Amir Khan vs. Rahul Raju Khan
MMA (63.5-kilogram catchweight): Eko Roni Saputra vs. Murugan Silvarajoo Saputra
MMA (StrawW): Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke vs. Hexigetu Dejdamrong
MMA (FlyW): Roshan Mainam vs. Liu Peng Shuai Mainam