James Nakashima (R) (Marshall Boyce/Combat Press)

ONE Championship: Inside the Matrix II Preview and Predictions

Randynell Pilares Staff Writer

Carrying the momentum of last week’s mega-event, ONE Championship is showcasing the latest edition of its Inside the Matrix series on Friday. With Inside the Matrix II, the incredible action and display of martial-arts supremacy is assured. The event is headlined by ONE welterweight champion Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov’s first title defense against unbeaten challenger James Nakashima.

Abbasov is determined to make an impressive first defense of his belt. He enters the fight after three consecutive dominant wins. “Brazen” submitted former title contender Agilan Thani in December 2018 before knocking out Japanese legend Yushin Okami in May 2019. He then challenged and eventually dominated Zebaztian Kadestam to win the title in October 2019.

Nakashima, of the United States, is coming to wrest the title from Abbasov. He’s banking on his excellent ground game to do it. Trained primarily as a wrestler, Nakashima has added to his arsenal over the years, developing his submission skills in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and learning striking arts such as boxing and Muay Thai. Nakashima is also riding his own streak within ONE, where he has won all three of his bouts. Whether his perfect record and all-around game is enough to earn the crown will be seen on Friday night.


Advertisement

The night’s co-headliner carries real significance, with a potential shot at the ONE lightweight title on the line. That prize awaits the victor between ONE’s No. 3 lightweight Pieter “The Archangel” Buist and No. 4-ranked contender Timofey Nastyukhin. With this fight being a title eliminator, fans can expect a truly competitive battle that puts the winner one step closer to a crack at ONE champ Christian “The Warrior” Lee.

The card features three other exciting MMA battles.

Hard-hitting flyweight Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu of Japan will collide with Kim Kyu Sung of South Korea. Wakamatsu sports a 12-4 record, with 10 of those victories coming by way of knockout. Kim is 10-3, and six of his wins have come by either TKO or knockout. Both fighters love to throw heavy bombs, so expect a firefight that is likely to end early.

In another flyweight match-up, Indonesian wrestling sensation Eko Roni Saputra (3W – 1L) will engage with Ramon “The Bicolano” Gonzales of the Philippines (4W – 3L). This fight will pit Saputra’s wrestling skills against the striking of Gonzales, who is a Kyokushin Karate Champion. It will be an interesting match to see which style will prove superior.

Opening the card is the match between two of the leading female atomweights in the organization. Bo Meng of China and Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol. Meng is ONE’s No. 2-ranked fighter in the atomweight division, and she is going to risk her ranking against Indonesia’s top atomweight in Gaol. These two ladies love to strike, which promises to produce one of the best fights of the night.

The lone non-MMA fight on the card is a Muay Thai match between Rocky Ogden of Australia and Joseph Lasiri of Italy. Ogden is fresh from a loss when he challenged Muay Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao for the Thai’s ONE strawweight Muay Thai title in February. Lasiri is coming off a loss to Thai star Mongkolpetch Petchyindee at ONE’s Immortal Triumph event in Vietnam in September 2019. Both men would like to get back in the win column, so fans can expect a great back-and-forth battle between two exciting and aggressive Muay Thai warriors.

ONE Championship: Inside the Matrix II takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, Nov. 6. Fans can see the full event on the ONE app and ONE’s YouTube channel at 8:30 a.m. ET. American fight fans can find the broadcast on the B/R Live streaming platform.

Kiamrian Abbasov has had a head-turning campaign to welterweight gold. He finished former UFC contender Yushin Okami to earn his shot and then decisioned Zebaztian Kadestam for the belt. How will he fare in his first title defense against undefeated challenger James Nakashima?

Abbasov should be able to defend his title against the undefeated challenger. It should be a tough and hard-earned victory for Kyrgyzstan native, but it can be argued that “Brazen’s” run of victories, especially his recent ones with ONE, is more impressive than Nakashima’s unbeaten record.

Nakashima has yet to taste defeat in his career, but it is a resume full of decision wins. In fact, 11 of his 12 career victories have come on the scorecards. The only exception came on an injury stoppage when Nakashima faced Luis “Sapo” Santos in 2019.

Bo Meng is set for only her second appearance with the ONE Championship organization after a 2019 to forget in which she had a marquee fight with Mei Yamaguchi scrapped on three separate occasions. Will Meng make a successful return to action against Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol? Is the Yamaguchi fight still on the horizon?

Meng should be able to handle Gaol in what is only her second appearance with the company. She has faced superior competition throughout her career, and a win will only solidify her standing as the second-ranked contender for Angela Lee’s atomweight title.

The winner of this fight is likely to get an invitation to the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix, set for 2021, that will determine the next challenger for Lee’s crown. It remains to be seen whether Meng will also still have an encounter with Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi is ranked No. 4 in the division, so there’s a good chance that they’ll finally meet in the Grand Prix. It would be very interesting if it ever materializes.

How important is the lone Muay Thai fight of the card, which pits Rocky Ogden against Joseph Lasiri?

The match between Ogden and Lasiri is significant for both fighters, because they’re both coming off losses. Ogden dropped his ONE Championship debut, but it was a pretty high-profile debut in which he challenged the legendary Sam-A Gaiyanghadao for the ONE Muay Thai strawweight championship. He came up short, but the setback came against an absolute icon of the sport.

A win over Lasiri will vault Ogden right back into the winner’s circle with his first ONE victory. However, Lasiri’s need for a win is a little more urgent. Lasiri has lost four of his last five bouts, all of them with ONE. He needs a win not just to get back into contention, but to get back into significance once more.

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

Yuya Wakamatsu and Kim Kyu Sung.

While not as talked about as the main event or co-headliner, this bout has the potential to steal the show. The “Little Piranha’s” exciting and almost wild fighting style creates a sure-fire guarantee of a firefight. Wakamatsu’s heavy hands will definitely play a factor, win or lose. His opponent, Sung, is no slouch in the excitement department, either. Sung is also known to like a good scrap, so expect exchanges to be powerful and plenty throughout their fight.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
Main Card
MMA (WW Championship): Kiamrian Abbasov vs. James Nakashima Abbasov
MMA (LW): Timofey Nastyukhin vs. Pieter Buist Buist
MMA (FlyW): Kim Kyu Sung vs. Yuya Wakamatsu Wakamatsu
Muay Thai (130-pound Catchweight): Rocky Ogden vs. Joseph Lasiri Ogden
MMA (FlyW): Eko Roni Saputra vs. Ramon Gonzales Gonzales
MMA (Women’s AtomW): Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol vs. Bo Meng Meng