ONE Championship: Winter Warriors Preview

Ritu Phogat and Stamp Fairtex face off in the ONE Championship cage.
Ritu Phogat and Stamp Fairtex will fight in the 115-Pound Grand Prix Finals on Friday (ONE Championship)

ONE Championship will present what is expected to be their final live card of the year on Friday, airing “Winter Warriors” from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The six-fight card is set to be headlined by dominant kickboxing champ Regian Eersel, who will look to defend his belt against ONE newcomer Islam Murtazaev.

The show will also feature the final bout in the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix, as Stamp Fairtex and Ritu Phogat will fight. The winner of the bout will earn their third win in four months’ time and secure a future title fight against Angela Lee.

Here’s a preview of the entire card.

Main Card (7:30AM EST / 8:30PM SGT) (Bleacher Report App / Youtube)

Bout 1: Hu Yong (7-2) vs. Yuya Wakamatsu (14-4) (135 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Long winning streaks at bantamweight will be put on the line in the first bout of the card, as Hu Yong and Yuya Wakamatsu will face off.

Wakamatsu has picked up four consecutive wins since 2019. This includes his last fight, which was a unanimous decision victory over Reece McLaren in April.

Wakamatsu’s last loss came against a big name, as he was submitted two years ago by former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson.

Hu won his first appearance on a flagship ONE card in March, defeating Yodkaikaew Fairtex on scorecards. This fight came after he scored four consecutive wins on the ONE Championship “Hero Series” in 2019.

Bout 2: Kang Ji Won (5-0) vs. Marcus Buchecha (1-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)

In a clash between undefeated heavyweights, explosive striker Kang Ji Won will fight grappling ace Marcus Buchecha.

Buchecha won his MMA debut in September, scoring a first-round submission win over kickboxer Anderson “Braddock” Silva. He was making his first MMA appearance after over a decade of competing at a high level in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappling.

Kang, a finisher, has yet to exit the first round through five fights. He has used strikes to win in all of his pro appearances, including wins in ONE Championship over Mehdi Barghi and Amir Aliakbari earlier this year.

Bout 3: Timofey Nastyukhin (14-5) vs. Dagi Arslanaliev (8-2) (170 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Welterweights Timofey Nastyukhin and Dagi Arslanaliev will fight to get back into the win column when competing in a rematch on Friday’s card.

Nastyukhin previously faced Arslanaliev in 2018, losing in the second minute via stoppage due to strikes.

Nastyukhin lost a title shot earlier this year, suffering a first-round finish loss to Christian Lee in April. The championship fight came after he put together a two-fight winning streak, which included a 2019 victory over former UFC Champion Eddie Alvarez.

Arslanaliev’s last fight also came against Lee, losing a decision to him in October 2019. He had an explosive run in the promotion before then, attaining seven finish victories through eight appearances.

Bout 4: Qiu Jianliang vs. Hiroki Akimoto (145 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

In the first of two kickboxing bouts on the card, featherweights Qiu Jianliang and Hiroki Akimoto will be matched up.

Qiu will be making his ONE Championship debut on Friday. He is entering ONE after an incredibly successful run in the Chinese promotion Glory of Heroes that resulted in a winning streak of over a dozen fights. He will be competing for the first time since 2019 on Friday.

Akimoto will be searching for his third consecutive win in ONE. He is coming off a two-fight rivalry against Zhang ChengLong, which earned him a decision victory each time.

Bout 5: Stamp Fairtex (7-1) vs. Ritu Phogat (7-1) (ONE Atomweight Grand Prix Finals) (115 lbs)

After starting with eight women in the summer, ONE Championship’s 115-pound Grand Prix will come to a close on Friday. The final of the tournament sees promotional veterans Stamp Fairtex and Ritu Phogat collide.

Phogat had an odd path to the finals. She was announced as part of the bracket earlier in the year when she had an undefeated record of four wins. Things became confusing in May when Bi Nguyen earned an upset decision win over Phogat, shaking up the bracket before it kicked off.

While Phogat was briefly taken out of the Grand Prix, she was later placed back into the bracket following a win against Lin Heqin.

Phogat opened the tournament with a big win, defeating Meng Bo in a three-round battle.

Stamp started her bracket run by avenging a loss she took earlier in the year against Alyona Rassohyna.

The Grand Prix saw big changes after two semi-finalists, Ham Seo Hee and Itsuki Hirata, withdrew from their fights (one due to injury, the other due to illness). Because of this both Stamp and Phogat were given short-notice opponents in October.

Stamp defeated tournament alternate Julie Mezabarba, and Phogat ended the two-fight winning streak of Jenelyn Olsim in her fight. Both of their fights came just last month at ONE Championship’s “NextGen” card.

The 115-pound fighters will now meet in the finals this weekend. The winner is expected to be given a title shot against Angela Lee at a later date.

Bout 6: Regian Eersel vs. Islam Murtazaev (ONE Kickboxing Lightweight Championship) (170 lbs)

Regian Eersel will have the chance to extend his dominant title run in Friday’s main event, facing Islam Murtazaev in a kickboxing fight.

Eersel has been the ONE Kickboxing Lightweight Champion since early 2019, when he defeated Nieky Holzken to take the belt. He has since defended the belt twice, defeating Holzken in a rematch and earning a scorecard win earlier this year against Mustapha Haida.

Murtazaev is getting a title fight in his first appearance for the promotion. There is little information on him online, although there is footage proof that he fought under notable kickboxing promotion Kunlun Fight in 2016. He was first set to fight Eersel in March 2021, although that iteration of the fight fell through eventually.

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