Hiroki Akimoto (R) (ONE Championship)

Hiroki Akimoto Returns to Action Against Wei Rui at ONE Fight Night 22

After more than a year away from action, former ONE bantamweight kickboxing champion Hiroki Akimoto will return to ONE Championship to battle Wei Rui at ONE Fight Night 22 on Prime Video on Friday, May 3.

The Japanese star trained in Singapore at Evolve MMA for some time, but visa issues forced him to return home.

Since then, Akimoto has been adapting to the changes, and he is finally ready to bring his exciting skills back to the masses on May 3.


“I couldn’t renew my visa, so I left Singapore and returned to Japan. I started to train at a new gym last December, so that has been a big change,” Akimoto detailed to ONE.

“Ultimately, I won’t know until I actually fight, but I’m getting a good feeling from it. I’m having many realizations in each training session, and I can feel myself growing.”

“In terms of training, the previous fight showed me my weaknesses, so I’ve been working on improving those while further honing my strengths.”

The 31-year-old is familiar with Wei, and matching up against him is one reason he was eager to put pen to paper.

“Demon Blade’s” 20-bout winning streak will be on the line at ONE Fight Night 22, and the prospect of toppling the experienced Chinese striker has Akimoto excited.

“My opponent is a really good fighter, so I was happy when I got the offer. I knew about him. I haven’t seen him fight live, but I had the impression that he’s a skilled fighter,” he said.

“All the fighters in ONE have won titles, so I’m not really conscious of the fact that he’s a former K-1 World Champion.”

“I just see him as another fighter who has strengths but also areas that can be exploited. So I’ll just prepare as I always do.”

With Wei’s many accolades, Akimoto has been focusing hard on the physical tools he will enter the ONE Championship ring with on May 3.

He is also using all of the information available to make a solid plan for what, he foresees, will be one of the most intriguing stylistic matchups of the evening.

“My opponent has good reach. He uses his arms and legs very skillfully, and his footwork is also good,” Akimoto stated.

“Since my opponent is skilled with both kicks and punches, I think it will be more of a long-range fight. The exchanges at that range should be interesting to watch.”

“I’m good at kicking too, and since my opponent excels at various kicks, that aspect should be a highlight.”

The Japanese star is focused on reclaiming gold in the bantamweight kickboxing division, but he won’t allow himself to look too far down the road when faced with such a dangerous opponent.

ONE Fight Night 22 will be a re-introduction for Akimoto to both the global audience and the bantamweight ranks, and he’s looking to make a statement.

“I want to shut him out completely. That’s the main goal. There are a few key points I have in mind, so I want to execute those properly. If I let him take control, I’ll lose, so I need to do what I’ve practiced,” Akimoto said.

“In the first half of the fight, we’ll likely exchange kicks in an exciting way for the viewers. Then, in the second half, I want to take control of the pace and be dominant at both kicking and close range.”

ONE Fight Night 22 airs live on Friday, May 3, from Bangkok. The action begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.