ONE Championship is ready to shine in Tokyo, Japan, in a matter of hours. ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru emanates from the Ariake Arena with a card overflowing with martial arts goodness from start to finish.
There is so much to take in that it would be impossible to list every single reason to watch this card as a fan of the sport. However, we can highlight five major reasons to put down your money for the global pay-per-view coming your way.
Superlek vs. Takeru Says It All
While Takeru Segawa vs. Rodtang Jitmuangnon was the original main event, the updated match for the ONE flyweight kickboxing world championship maybe even better.
Superlek Kiatmoo9 has been on a dominant stretch, including defeating Rodtang in their Muay Thai matchup last year. In defense of his crown, he has a chance to solidify his position as one of the pound-for-pound best.
And although Takeru has wanted Rodtang for years, he gets a shot to become the world champion in his debut. The stakes did not lessen when the Thai stepped in. They only got bigger.
All of that merely sets the stage for the stylistic collision that could be jaw-dropping when the bell rings. “The Kicking Machine” is notorious for his tactical advantages, and Takeru’s speed is incredible. Who will be able to implement their game first?
This is a true world-class main event that will be tough to rival in 2024. Everything about it is phenomenal, and striking fans will see pure brilliance on display from both men, with one man assuming the throne as the undisputed ONE flyweight kickboxing world champion at night’s end.
Clash Of Personalities & Styles
Shinya Aoki and Sage Northcutt could not be more different. The gruff, surly Japanese grappler battles the clean-cut, happy-go-lucky American striker. Furthermore, both men have a lot to fight for inside Ariake Arena.
Aoki’s career is nearing its end, and this could be one of his final marquee matchups. He gets to have it in front of a friendly Japanese crowd.
Northcutt is taking on a true MMA legend while trying to position himself as a lightweight title contender in 2024. Taking out the division’s former king in emphatic fashion will go a long way to do just that.
In and out of the ring, the juxtaposition of these two athletes is wild. It is a great matchup that shows the stark contrast between them, and when the bell rings, there will be immense anticipation for whatever comes next.
Mixed Rules Madness
Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama and Nieky Holzken are always must-see TV. They are legends in their respective disciplines. As both elder statesmen look for exciting opportunities, ONE enters with a fun special rules contest.
The first of three three-minute rounds will be contested under boxing rules with four-ounce gloves. In the second frame, Muay Thai takes centerstage. Finally, MMA rules occur in the final three minutes.
This is a serious test for both men. Can “Sexyama” survive until the MMA round to employ his world-class judo? Will he be able to stun Holzken with his tremendous power? Does “The Natural” finish the grappler with his legendary strikes?
This is a fantastic fight under these rules, and it gives fans a little something unique on an already jam-packed card. The result shouldn’t matter. It is just a thrill to see these two warriors accept such a challenge at this stage of their careers.
Top featherweight contenders Garry Tonon and Martin Nguyen are looking for their chance to challenge for the gold again. A title unification bout is slated for ONE 166 in March between Tang Kai and Thanh Le, and these two are next up.
Adding more flavor to the contest is that Tonon has routinely called for a match against “The Situ-Asian,” dating back to when the Vietnamese-Australian wore the title around his waist. It is a matchup he always believed would need to happen.
Nguyen’s explosive power against Tonon’s dynamic ground attack is an intriguing battle that will have a definitive answer one way or the other on Sunday. The winner will unquestionably be the top contender for whoever becomes the undisputed champion just weeks later.
Strawweight Contenders Make Noise
The first two matches of the night will also give strawweight contenders a chance to make some noise.
Third-ranked contender Hiroba Minowa battles fourth-ranked Gustavo Balart while second-ranked Bokang Masunyane tries to turn away the fast-rising Keito Yamakita. With an upcoming title defense from Jarred Brooks against Joshua Pacio, this is a prime opportunity for one of the four men to separate himself from the pack.
The cherry on top is that both matchups are incredibly exciting for fans. All four elite strawweights offer fast-paced action while looking for the finish. Any sudden ending could position the victor as next in line. The stakes and thrilling action are the perfect way to begin ONE 165.
ONE 165 airs live from Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, Jan. 28. The action is available on global pay-per-view at watch.onefc.com for $39.99.
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