Saturday, Mar. 26, 2022 is going to be a massive night in the world of combat sports. ONE Championship hosts their tenth-anniversary event, ONE Championship: X, or ONE X, complete with 20 bouts split into three sections, culminating in a six-fight grand finale.
The main event is an atomweight MMA world championship contest between reigning champion Angela Lee and challenger Stamp Fairtex. Lee has been out of action for over two years, taking time off to start a family after defending her atomweight title against Xiong Jing Nan. Stamp earned her spot in this fight by winning the ONE atomweight grand prix in 2021, where she defeated Ritu Phogat by submission in the final.
The co-main event is a special rules bout between longtime UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and the reigning ONE flyweight Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon. The bout will be four rounds, three-minutes each, with rounds one and three being fought using Muay Thai rules, and rounds two and four under the ONE mixed martial arts ruleset. This will be Johnson’s first fight in nearly a year, after he lost via knockout in a flyweight championship bout against Adriano Moraes.
Also on the main card, dubbed the ONE X: Grand Finale, is the aforementioned Moraes who will defend his flyweight title against Yuya Wakamatsu who enters the fight on a five-fight winning streak. ONE X will also contain three more championship fights, including the featherweight kickboxing world championship where incumbent champ Superbon Singha Mawynn will meet Marat Grigorian. The bantamweight Muay Thai championship will be on the line between Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and Felipe Lobo. Bantamweight kickboxing champion Capitan Petchyindee will defend his belt against top contender Hiroki Akimoto.
ONE X airs live in its entirety on the ONE Championship website on Saturday, Mar. 26, beginning with ONE X: Part I at 1 a.m. ET, followed by ONE X: Part II begins at 5 a.m. ET. ONE X: Part I and ONE X: Part II will also air on ONE Championship’s Facebook and YouTube pages. The action then moves to ONE Championship’s pay-per-view at 8 a.m. ET for the ONE X: Grand Finale. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Matt Petela preview the action in a special edition of Toe-to-Toe.
The action culminates in an atomweight world title fight between Angela Lee and Stamp Fairtex; does Lee retain her title or will Stamp walk away as champion?
Sumian: This is one of the most difficult fights to pick on this incredible mega showcase. Both Angela Lee and Stamp Fairtex are prolific combatants capable of delivering memorable performances. However, this should prove to be a battle between vastly different game plans.
Lee has not competed in professional MMA since 2019. She defended the ONE atomweight title against Xiong Jing Nan after dropping back-to-back fights, to Xiong for the strawweight title and Michelle Nicolini before that. Lee has officially returned to the atomweight division for the time being and has defended her title four times. She will look to extend her title reign at the expense of the surging Stamp Fairtex.
Stamp’s stock has never been higher after winning the ONE’s atomweight grand prix. She fought four times in 2021 and looked more impressive with each appearance. Stamp is a prolific Muay Thai practitioner with an extensive background in striking. She will look to build off an incredible 2021 by cementing her place as the best women’s atomweight in the world.
Lee will certainly look to get this fight to the ground where she can avoid the devastating striking of Stamp and pull off a slick submission victory using her grappling. On the other hand, Stamp will want to keep this on the feet, where she holds a distinct striking advantage, and unload powerful combinations on Lee. Stamp is no slouch on the ground, but her strength lies in her ability to outstrike her opponents.
Despite Lee’s dominance at atomweight, she has not competed for a long time in professional MMA, which gives pause to her ability to defend the title against a contender such as Stamp. Stamp will land consistently on Lee in the first two rounds before finding the finish via TKO in the third round to officially cement herself as the best atomweight on the ONE roster. It will be a widely entertaining fight for as long as it lasts, but the challenger will walk away with the belt and continue the dominance she established in 2021.
Petela: There might not be a more improved fighter over the past two years than Stamp Fairtex. She has been incredibly active, picking up five wins in her six fights since 2020. She passes the eye test each time out and is growing by leaps and bounds. In her last fight, she submitted Ritu Phogat, a gold-medal-winning wrestler at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship. While Stamp keeps getting better, we haven’t seen Angela Lee in action. Lee took time off to start a family with her husband, welcoming a baby in 2021. There are certainly questions she will have to answer in this performance, but it’s Angela Lee, so she will answer these questions emphatically.
This fight will go beyond the X’s and O’s, as is often the case in championship fights. This is the biggest stage that Stamp has ever fought on, taking on an incumbent champion in the main event of a huge fight card. That’s not to say that Stamp won’t rise to the occasion, as surely she will perform to the very best of her world-class abilities. However, Lee will outperform in her own talents in order to retain the title. Whether it’s the idea that she is now fighting for more than herself with a baby at home, or if it is a renewed exuberance of returning to action for the first time in over two years, this will be a trademark performance by Lee, and she will earn a stoppage victory. This won’t be the only time these two women meet. Expect another clash before too long, and the story of that fight may be different, but at least this time around it will be Lee who walks away with a win.
Former longtime UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson returns to take on Rodtang in a flyweight freestyle bout; who benefits from the mixed rules in this contest?
Petela: What has made Demetrious Johnson special throughout his career is that there are no deficiencies in his game. He made a career out of being better than his opponent anywhere the fight went. He also doesn’t get enough credit for being able to weaponize his pace, probably because he didn’t do it each and every fight the way the Diaz brothers did, or Merab Dvalishvili does currently. He could turn every fight into a twenty-five minute sprint if needed, but he just has so many ways to win that it wasn’t always the best course of action towards victory. He won’t be a fish out of water in the first and third rounds of this fight with Rodtang under Muay Thai rules, though it’s likely he will lose those rounds against a true world-class specialist.
Rodtang has won five straight fights, all by decision. He’s not known as a one-punch knockout threat and that will allow Johnson to survive those rounds without taking an overwhelming background. The mixed martial arts rules in rounds two and four will be the truly one sided rounds, and those will be clear “Mighty Mouse” rounds. Johnson will dominate those two rounds and will probably pick up a late stoppage via ground-and-pound after a fun contest. What should come next for Johnson is another special-rules bout against another specialist in a different martial art, so he can continue to show that he can compete with the world’s elite in any discipline and puts them together better than nearly anyone on the planet.
Sumian: It is hard to argue with the analysis that my colleague has presented. As long as Demetrious Johnson can get to the mixed martial arts rounds, he is slated for victory. The former UFC flyweight champion, and ONE flyweight tournament champion, is simply too experienced as a well-rounded mixed martial artist to fall victim to the Muay Thai of Rodtang. This will be an incredibly entertaining bout between two masters of combat sports for as long as it lasts.
John Wayne Parr competes one final time in a Muay Thai-rules retirement bout; does “The Gunslinger” end his career with a victory?
Sumian: The showdown between Wushu’s Eduard Folayang and Muay Thai’s John Wayne Parr reminds me of the final showdown in an epic martial arts movie. Despite their legacies, both of these legends have had a rough going in their last few years of professional competition. They combine for a 1-7 record in their last four respective fights and should absolutely no longer be competing in professional competition.
The only way Parr wins this bout is if he can put Folayang away and preferably early. If the bout goes to a decision, expect Folyang to get the nod and convincingly outpoint the older and more seasoned Parr. Unfortunately for Parr, he will suffer a fourth consecutive loss, but this should not take anything away from his legacy. Parr should have stopped fighting long ago and will ride off into the sunset having compiled one of the most memorable combat sports careers in history.
Petela: My colleague is correct that these two veterans have fallen on hard times late in their career. That’s partially a product of their waning skills, but also because both men have continued to fight fighters at the top of the food chain despite being past their prime. This is a good matchup for Parr to close out his career. He goes up against a Wushu black belt in Folayang, and the style will allow Parr to press forward with his classic hands high Muay Thai style, chopping away at the legs of Folayang to slow him down. Ultimately it will be a late knockout win for “The Gunslinger” and he will ride off into the sunset with his 100th career victory.
What one fighter’s career is on the ropes at this event?
Petela: Yoshihiro Akiyama. He is 46 years old and has competed only sporadically over the past decade, with only three fights since 2015. As a major celebrity in his native Japan, and all over Asia, it makes sense to have him fight on the highest profile fight cards, because he hasn’t shown that he is completely shop-worn, but in this fight against Shinya Aoki, it will be clear that even the seemingly ageless “Sexyama” can’t outlast Father Time. This fight will likely be where the wheels fall off, and Akiyama will be forced to hang up his gloves for good.
Sumian: The combined duo of Eduard Folayang versus John Wayne Parr. This should be the final professional competition that either combatant martial artist competes in. Both have realized incredible careers, and this is the perfect send off fight for both to call it quits.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Sumian:. The featherweight kickboxing championship bout between Superbon Singha Mawynn and Marat Grigorian is going to steal the thunder at ONE X. These are two of the very best kickboxers on Planet Earth and will put on an extremely high-level kickboxing bout for viewers around the world. Despite a significantly stacked card, this bout might very well be the most compelling match up of the day.
Petela: This fight card is so star-studded that it’s hard to pick just one fight. The lightweight Muay Thai contest between Nieky Holzken and Sinsamut Klinmee that was just added is one that stands out in my eyes. Holzken has finished his last two contests, stopping Elliot Compton with a liver shot and then shutting down John Wayne Parr with a fight-ending head kick. He is the fifth-ranked welterweight kickboxer in the world in Combat Press’s rankings and this fight will be a nice showcase that the 38-year-old is still truly elite and might hold yet another world title before his career is said and done.
Who steals the show at this mega event with the most memorable performance?
Petela: Danielle Kelly. This is her first time competing under the ONE banner, and she will shine in her grappling contest against Mei Yamaguchi. The performance will be memorable on multiple fronts. Not only will she show off her impressive skills en route to victory, but she will shine a light on the world of submission grappling to a sector of combat sports fans who aren’t typically tuned in to those events. Furthermore, this will lead to an increase in her profile, and multitudes of fans will be invested in watching her eventual transition to mixed martial arts. This show will be a launching pad for Kelly as she is poised to become one of the brightest new stars in the world of combat sports.
Sumian: Marat Grigorian. He will defeat Superbon in convincing fashion to become the new ONE kickboxing featherweight champion . Grigorian and Superbon are the two top-ranked kickboxers in their divisions, but Grigorian will make it known that he is the top dog.
Pair this card with…
Sumian: The Kumite. This event is the closest it will get to putting on a martial arts competition that was featured in the cult classic Bloodsport. A variety of martial artists, legends, and top-ranked competitors will take the stage and showcase their undeniable skills. From start to finish, there is something for everyone this card and should deliver an action packed day of combat for all types of fight fans.
Petela: Caffeine. This is a long event, running ten hours from start to finish. It’s also in Singapore, so it is an overnight affair here in the United States. Despite the less-than-ideal timing, this card is more than worth watching. So grab a few coffees or a handful of Red Bulls and make sure you don’t miss a moment of the action.
ONE X: Grand Finale (ONE Championship pay-per-view, 8 a.m. ET)
AtomW World Championship: Angela Lee vs. Stamp Fairtex
FlyW Freestyle: Rodtang vs. Demetrious Johnson
FlyW World Championship: Adriano Moraes vs. Yuya Wakamatsu
LW: Shinya Aoki vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
LW Muay Thai: Eduard Folayang vs. John Wayne Parr
FW Kickboxing World Championship: Superbon Singha Mawynn vs. Marat Grigorian
ONE X: Part II (ONE Championship’s website, Facebook and YouTube, 5 a.m. ET)
BW Muay Thai World Championship: Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs. Felipe Lobo
BW Kickboxing World Championship: Capitan Petchyindee vs. Hiroki Akimoto
AtomW: Ham Seo Hee vs. Denice Zamboanga
AtomW: Itsuki Hirata vs. Jihin Radzuan
FW: Kim Jae Woong vs. Tang Kai
ONE X: Part I (ONE Championship’s website, Facebook and YouTube, 1 a.m. ET)
FW Kickboxing Grand Prix Final: Chingiz Allazov vs. Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong
MW Submission Grappling: Reinier de Ridder vs. Andre Galvao
LW Muay Thai: Nieky Holzken vs. Sinsamut Klinmee
StrawW: Lito Adiwang vs. Jeremy Miado
BW: Stephen Loman vs. Shoko Sato
FW: Amir Khan vs. Ryogo Takahashi
HW: Kang Ji Won vs. Paul Elliott
AtomW Submission Grappling: Mei Yamaguchi vs. Danielle Kelly
StrawW: Ryuto Sawada vs. Senzo Ikeda
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