The pre-fight press conference for ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru went down on Thursday, January 25. The stars were out as the faces of the event took to the dais, and none were more excited than ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
Sityodtong talked about all of the premier bouts, but he laid out the overriding storylines heading into the event that he felt were most prominent.
“I think there are two main themes that the Japanese fans will love. One is ONE Championship represents the best of the best martial artists, championship martial artists on the planet. Full stop. I have a lot of respect for obviously RIZIN, K-1, and RISE, but that’s the best in Japan. In ONE Championship, we represent the very best of the best in the world across every single discipline. So that’s number one,” Sityodtong said.
“Number two, I think it’s a very very powerful storyline, especially for Japanese fans, you know, when you have Takeru, who’s vying to go from Japan’s best to becoming the world’s best, many, I mean, I’m half-Japanese, I believe in Bushido culture, every child in Japan takes Kendo, Aikido, Karate or Judo, and there’s a real Bushido, a real Budo culture in Japan.”
“And it’s never been revived properly since, you know, 30 years ago with Pride. I believe ONE Championship is the right organization, in partnership with Rakuten and all of our partners, to really make a big, big push into Japan using these Japanese superstars and working together with the Japanese superstars in rallying Japanese honor and glory for martial arts. This is the real meaning of me coming back to Japan.”
While most of the focus is heaped onto the spectacular main event between Superlek Kiatmoo9 and Takeru Segawa, a special-rules superfight will also wow the audience inside Ariake Arena.
Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama will take on Nieky Holzken in a thrilling three-round bout that will test the two martial arts icons.
“In an incredible legend versus legend fight. This is one of these fights, special rules, mixed rules fight, that only the toughest true champion warriors, you know, in the spirit of Bushido and the spirit of Samurai, Akiyama “Sexyama” versus Nieky Holzken,” Sityodtong remarked.
“This is: first round, three minutes of boxing, second round, three minutes of kickboxing, and the last round, three minutes of MMA. To take this fight, both of these legends, I can’t tell you how much I respect both of them. Yes, they’re towards the end of their careers. They don’t have to take these kinds of risks.”
“But they’re trying to cement their legacy as the greatest world championship martial artists on the planet. And cement their legacy as true legends of martial arts. Not just kickboxing, not just mixed martial arts, but true legends of martial arts.”
As for the main event itself, Sityodtong set the stakes but also mentioned the future. Specifically, ONE’s chairman mentioned that 2024 could have a triangle of flyweight matches between the two headlining talents and Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
“Rodtang wants to fight Takeru. And a rematch between Superlek and Rodtang in Muay Thai is definitely happening as well. So, no matter the result, I think there’s a really interesting potential trilogy for Takeru and Superlek, Takeru and Rodtang, but also Rodtang and Superlek.” Sityodtong confessed.
So much more went down at the press conference, and so much more will happen this Sunday. ONE 165 will be one of the year’s most stacked lineups and cannot be missed.
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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