ONE Championship returns on Friday, Mar. 11, with ONE Championship: Lights Out. The fight card culminates with two championship fights, first in the bantamweight division and the main event at featherweight.
The headlining affair features undefeated New Jersey native Garry Tonon against champion Thanh Le, who spent most of his childhood in New Orleans, Lou. Le is on a four-fight winning streak and has won all of those fights by knockout. Tonon transitioned to mixed martial arts after compiling one of the most impressive submission grappling resumes in recent history.
The co-main event pits two Brazilian countrymen against each other as incumbent champion Bibiano Fernandes finally takes on John Lineker. This fight was originally scheduled to take place in Dec. 2021, but due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions was delayed. It was then supposed to take place in Feb. 2022, but, just days before the fight, Lineker tested positive for COVID-19, and the fight had to be delayed yet again. The pair will finally meet with Fernandes’ title on the line this Friday.
The lead card kicks off on YouTube, Facebook and the ONE Super app starting at 6 a.m. ET. The main card follows on YouTube and the ONE Super app at 7:30 a.m. ET. Let’s take a look at the preview and predictions.
Submission grappling ace Garry Tonon is undefeated since moving to mixed martial arts; does he stay perfect by defeating Thanh Le?
This fight is a throwback of sorts, back to the early days of MMA, when fighters were fighting to prove the superiority of their martial arts. Now admittedly both Thanh Le and Garry Tonon are real mixed martial artists, and to pigeonhole them into one style is doing them a disservice. However, this is probably one of the purest examples of striker vs. grappler at the elite level that fans have the pleasure of seeing in modern MMA.
Le is going to do everything in his power to keep this fight on the feet where he clearly has an advantage. 11 of his 12 victories have come by knockout, and that will surely be his most likely path to victory. If he can keep Tonon from getting the fight to the mat, Le will probably finish the fight within two rounds and retain his featherweight title. However, with all due respect to his former opponents, Le has never faced a grappler like Tonon. There simply aren’t more than a handful of MMA fighters that have the same pedigree on the canvas as Tonon.
A multiple time world jiu-jitsu champion, Tonon has the ability to lock up submissions from nearly any position on the ground, so he will try and get the fight in his wheelhouse by any means necessary. It might not look pretty, and he will probably take a few heavy punches for his efforts, but eventually Tonon will drag Le down to the floor and get to work. Expect Tonon to get the finish by submission sometime in the third round and claim the featherweight title in the process.
Former UFC standout John Lineker gets a crack at the bantamweight title; how does he fare against Bibiano Fernandes?
This fight has gotten personal to a certain degree after an exchange on social media. That won’t ultimately matter between these two accomplished professionals who will set any personal animosity aside and be dialed in as soon as the cage door locks. For Bibiano Fernandes, this will be his first fight against someone other than Kevin Belingon since 2018. After preparing over and over again for Belingon, this extended training camp in preparation for Lineker will have him fully ready to defend his title. Unfortunately, the one thing that you can’t prepare for is the otherworldly power that John Lineker possesses. Ultimately, in this one, it will just be a matter of time before Lineker lands a looping overhand punch that closes the show and earns him the title. It will be one of the age-old instances where Fernandes was winning, until the moment he wasn’t.
Kirill Gorobets makes his ONE debut against Martin Nguyen; does the Ukrainian standout get his hand raised?
Yes, he will get a win in his debut, and it will be an emphatic one at that. Gorobets is a very well-rounded fighter and has shown that he can pick up victories in multiple ways. Five of his 11 wins have come by knockout, three by submission, and three by decision. His submissions have come by way of Peruvian necktie, banana split, and rear-naked choke, so he can snatch up a finish from nearly any position. He also has two knockout wins by head kick, in addition to the three that came by way of punches. This fight will be a great showcase for Gorobets, and it will introduce his dynamic abilities to a wide audience. The ceiling is high for the 28-year-old.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Iman Barlow vs. Daniela Lopez. Barlow is a wildly talented English fighter who has over 100 professional fights and is just 28 years old. She has multiple world championships to her name already and is going to continue to rack up titles over the next several years. Barlow should come away with a win over Lopez, but the Argentinian is a sturdy woman who doesn’t go away easily. This should be all action from the get-go with Barlow landing lightning-fast combinations and avoiding the heavy power of Lopez en route to a decision victory.
Main Card (YouTube and ONE Super app, 7:30 a.m. ET)
FW Championship: Thanh Le vs. Garry Tonon
BW Championship: Bibiano Fernandes vs. John Lineker
FW: Martin Nguyen vs. Kirill Gorobets
HW Kickboxing: Ismael Londt vs. Iraj Azizpour
StrawW: Alex Silva vs. Adrian Mattheis
StrawW Kickboxing: Josh Tonna vs. Zhang Peimian
Lead Card (Facebook, YouTube, and ONE Super app, 6 a.m. ET)
FlyW: Eko Rona Saputra vs. Chan Rothana
StrawW Muay Thai: Iman Barlow vs. Daniela Lopez
CatchW (79KG) Muay Thai: Liam Nolan vs. Kim Kyung Lock
StrawW Kickboxing: Lin Heqin vs. Milagros Lopez
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