Another former UFC standout finds his name on the ONE Championship marquee this week. Former UFC flyweight and bantamweight John Lineker faces off against Troy Worthen at bantamweight in the main event of the third installment of ONE on TNT.
Lineker has gone 2-0 under the ONE banner since signing with the promotion in 2019. The man looking to halt that winning streak is Florida native Troy Worthen. Now training with the Evolve Fight Team in Singapore, Worthen has compiled a record of 7-1 in his professional career and seeks to spoil Lineker’s American television return while bouncing back from his first loss.
The main card also includes a flyweight showdown between Australia’s Reece McLaren and Japan’s Yuya Wakamatsu. Since he was submitted by Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Wakamatsu has rattled off three straight wins. McLaren has notched eight victories by submission, and he will look to add to that total against the hard-hitting “Little Piranha.”
There is only one non-MMA fight on the docket: a 178-pound catchweight Muay Thai bout between Nieky Holzken and John Wayne Parr. Both of these men have fought a who’s who in kickboxing and Muay Thai. Holzken holds notable wins over Raymond Daniels and Joseph Valtellini, while Parr has defeated Duane “Bang” Ludwig and Yodsanklai Fairtex as well as numerous other champions on his way to becoming a multi-time world champion.
ONE on TNT III takes place Wednesday, April 21, from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The lead card consists of three bouts and airs tape-delayed on B/R Live at 8:30 p.m. ET. The two-fight main card follows on TNT at 10 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Matt Petela preview the action as they go Toe-to-Toe.
The high-profile contingent of UFC veterans didn’t fare well at ONE on TNT I. Will Lineker change this trend when he clashes with Worthen?
This is a total mismatch. Lineker has compiled a fantastic record through two fights since joining the ONE promotion. This includes a finish over Kevin Belignon. The Brazilian is one of the most prolific power-punchers in bantamweight history, and he has the ability to finish anyone who dares stand in his way.
Worthen is being fed to the wolves in this bout. He has never fought competition even remotely close to the level of Lineker. Lineker will earn a smooth knockout victory and in all likelihood find fight for ONE gold at some point in 2021.
Petela: Lineker is by far the more credentialed fighter in the main event. There is no question about that. He also has the unique ability at the lower weight classes to finish fights in devastating fashion with one strike, and he doesn’t even have to land totally flush. He is by far the most dangerous opponent that Worthen has ever faced. This is why it will be all that much more impressive when Worthen comes away with the victory and adds to the tally of former UFC fighters to struggle inside the Singapore-based promotion.
Worthen is an All-American collegiate wrestler out of the University of Central Florida and also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These will be the keys to his victory over Lineker. Worthen will be able to secure an early takedown and hold Lineker down while landing significant damage. This will keep him safe from the knockout power of Lineker early and allow Worthen to wear down his opponent so that as the fight continues Lineker feels the fatigue and his power is seriously diminished.
Worthen will not take any serious damage from “Hands of Stone.” Instead, it will be Worthen who gets the nod from the judges once the fight reaches the final bell.
Nieky Holzken and John Wayne Parr square off in the card’s lone Muay Thai fight. How will this one play out? Should it have received a televised spot in the lineup?
Petela: This fight absolutely deserves to be on the televised portion of this card. More than that, ONE is doing itself and the sport of Muay Thai a disservice by not broadcasting this showdown to a wider audience. These two men are kickboxing legends, with each fighter closing in on their 100th career victory. It would have been great to see these two square off earlier in their careers, but this promises to be a fight that was made better late than never.
It will wind up being the perfect swan song for Parr, who will pick up an impressive win in an entertaining back-and-forth affair against one of the most respected names in the sport’s history. That’s not a bad way to close out a career. This fight will also serve to provide him with that elusive 100th victory of his career that he has been searching for since defeating Pierguilo Paolucci under the Bellator Kickboxing banner.
Both men will try to move forward early and often, leading to some incredible exchanges. Living up to his nickname, “The Gunslinger” will wind up catching Holzken with the heavier shots. However, don’t be surprised to see each man hit the canvas at some point during the bout.
Sumian: Agreed. The combined resume of both of these competitors is a thing of legend. However, where I disagree with my colleague is on the winner of this bout. Holzken will drop Parr early and finish this fight with a memorable knockout. Both men have finishing ability, but fortune will favor the younger fighter.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Sumian: The lightweight thriller between Rae Yoon Ok and Marat Gafurov. The two energetic lightweights are experienced competitors who have both suffered three losses. Ok will make his promotional debut against the Russian submission specialist Gafurov. For as long as this one lasts, expect fireworks. It will conclude in memorable fashion.
Petela: Strawweights Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada and Li Tao Miao. The pace these fighters can keep is otherworldly. It almost feels like you’re watching a fight in fast forward. Don’t mistake their stature for a lack of finishing abilities, though. Sawada has finished 11 out of his 14 pro wins, while Miao has scored knockouts in four of his five victories. Unlike their first fight last year, this one won’t need the judges.
Main Card (TNT, 10 p.m. ET)
MMA (BW): John Lineker vs. Troy Worthen
MMA (FlyW): Reece McLaren vs. Yuya Wakamatsu
Lead Card (B/R Live, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Muay Thai (178-pound catchweight): Nieky Holzken vs. John Wayne Parr
MMA (LW): Marat Gafurov vs. Ok Rae Yoon
MMA (StrawW): Ryuto Sawada vs. Miao Li Tao
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