ONE Championship returns to action this weekend from Tokyo, Japan with a card shocked full of superstars across the combat sports world. The headlining bout will be the debut of kickboxing superstar Takeru Segawa in a ONE flyweight kickboxing title fight against current champion Superlek Kiatmoo9. Since Takeru’s signing with ONE, the thought was that he would take on Rodtang Jimuangnon in his debut. But, instead, he faces off against Superlek, who scored a unanimous decision victory over Rodtang in his last outing. This showdown is going to be a fan-friendly bout that will have the audience in attendance and at home on the edge of their seats.
The co-main event also has gold on the line, as ONE’s lightweight submission grappling champion Kade Ruotolo takes on Tommy Langaker in a rematch of their first ONE meeting in Jun. 2023. The two jiu-jitsu standouts went to a decision in their first meeting, with Ruotolo retaining his title on all judges’ scorecards. After the match, Langaker thought that he had done enough, and that he deserved to get the win. Both men will be looking to end this bout definitively by securing a submission and leaving no question as to who is the best lightweight submission grappler on the ONE roster.
ONE 165 takes place inside Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The event airs live on YouTube on Sunday, Jun. 28, starting at 7:30 .m. ET.
Superlek and Takeru square off in the main event with the flyweight kickboxing title on the line; which star leaves with the belt around his waist?
This is a fight that I am very excited to see happen. After defeating Rodtang, Superlek more than earned the right to welcome Takeru into ONE Championship. These two all-action veterans are going to put on a show, and, frankly, I don’t really know how this one is going to turn out. Both men can end the fight in an instant with both their hands and their feet, and are both sound defensively, so it will have fans on the edge of their seats seeing who gets the better of the action from the opening bell.
Superlek is fighting better now than he ever has, but I have to lean towards Takeru getting the victory. Takeru is perhaps the greatest kickboxer of this generation, and one of the greatest of all-time. His accolades speak for themselves, he is the only three-division champion in the history of K-1. This fight is going to be close, but it will be the front leg of Takeru that makes the difference and earns him the win. Whether it is push kicks, to keep the fight at long distance, or round kicks, to the body and head of Superlek, that lead leg will have the biggest impact of any limb in this contest.
This fight will be extremely close, however, and to say that Takeru will be a step ahead of Superlek because of his stellar lead leg, might be a major overstatement. It will be closer to a half step or even a quarter step. I can’t stress enough how excited I am, and how fun I expect this fight to turn out. It will be a great first fight inside ONE for Takeru, and the Japanese crowd will be treated to a heck of a show.
Kade Ruotolo will put his lightweight submission grappling title on the line against Norway’s Tommy Langaker; can the American standout hold onto his championship?
When these two met back in Jun. 2023, Ruotolo did enough to earn a unanimous decision win and retain his championship. This time around, it will probably shake out the same way. It can be very difficult for submission grappling to be viewer-friendly on television, but these two athletes and the ONE grappling ruleset nearly ensure that this contest will be exciting. Both Ruotolo and Langaker are world champions, with Ruotolo winning the 2022 ADCC World Championship at 77kg and Langaker the 2023 IBJJF No-Gi World Champion at 79.5kg.
Their resumes speak for themselves and so does the first showdown. Ruotolo was able to pass the guard of Langaker multiple times, while Langaker was constantly trying to threaten submissions off of his back. After the decision was read, Langaker thought he did enough to get the win and questioned the judges’ decision, but he took it in stride heading into the rematch.
After coming up on the wrong side of a decision, Langaker will adjust his approach and look to be even more aggressive the second time around. Ultimately, I have a feeling that approach will backfire, and, while he is aggressively pursuing a submission, Langaker will leave himself vulnerable and allow Ruotolo to lock in a choke of his own. This one ends inside the distance, with Ruotolo retaining his championship after a submission win late in the match.
Last time Sage Northcutt fought, he scored a shocking submission win; how does he fare against a legend like Shinya Aoki?
As good as he looked the last time out, Sage Northcutt will not likely be trying to snatch up a second straight submission win. He knows that the one area where Shinya Aoki will have the biggest advantage is on the ground. Aoki has 30 career wins by submission, and, as susceptible as he has been to being knocked out, he is going to try his hardest to turn this into a grappling match as early and often as he can.
Northcutt simply moves too well for Aoki to be able to keep up with him on the feet. A heavy dose of sidekicks from Northcutt will make sure that Aoki isn’t able to leap into any flying submissions and keep it at kickboxing range. There will be a sizable power discrepancy in the striking and this one won’t go the distance. Northcutt takes out the legend with a first-round knockout, making it three losses in a row by knockout for Aoki, and, in all honesty, it’s time for the grappling wizard to hang up his MMA gloves.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Garry Tonon vs. Martin Nguyen. There is no mystery to how each man is going to try to get the win in this clash. Tonon is one of the best submission grapplers on the planet, who is a master at leg locks, and Nguyen has dynamite in his hands. Tonon isn’t afraid to give up position in search of securing a leg lock, and that cost him his consciousness against Thanh Le. He will take that same risk this weekend, but I expect him to be able to pull it off and force a tap before Nguyen is able to punch his head through the mat. Regardless, this one is going to be fun and someone is getting finished in devastating fashion.
FlyW Kickboxing Championship: Superlek Kiatmoo9 vs. Takeru Segawa
LW Sub. Grappling Championship: Kade Ruotolo vs. Tommy Langaker
LW: Shinya Aoki vs. Sage Northcutt
CatchW (187.25 lbs) Special Rules: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Nieky Holzken
CatchW (156.5 lbs.) Kickboxing: Marat Grigorian vs. Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong
FW: Garry Tonon vs. Martin Nguyen
Women’s AtomW: Itsuki Hirata vs. Ayaka Miura
FlyW: Danny Kingad vs. Yuya Wakamatsu
HW Kickboxing: Rade Opacic vs. Iraj Azizpour
StrawW: Bokang Masunyane vs. Keito Yamakita
StrawW: Hiroba Minowa vs. Gustavo Balart
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