Through May, we’ve already seen several memorable ONE Championship matches, but with plenty of dates still left on the 2019 schedule, there is room for even more. The following five matches are bouts we’d love to see before the end of the year.
Kiamrian Abbasov vs. Zebaztian Kadestam
Many believe that welterweight contender Kiamrian Abbasov has done enough to earn a shot at the ONE Welterweight World Championship.
The 25-year-old ran his professional record to 21-4 with a second-round TKO win over Yushin Okami at ONE: FOR HONOR back on 3 May. Okami arrived at ONE with some fanfare, but Abbasov proved immune.
The win was Abbasov’s third in a row and his second straight stoppage victory, and it seems like he is the most natural next opponent for the current champion Zebaztian Kadestam. The welterweight champion is coming off an impressive win over Georgy Kichigin at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR back in March.
While grappling is one of Abbasov’s primary skills, he has repeatedly shown the ability to strike effectively in stand up exchanges. Most see that as a strength for Kadestam so it would be interesting to see where a match between the two would go.
Joshua Pacio vs. Hayato Suzuki II
When Joshua Pacio dropped the ONE Strawweight World Championship to Yosuke Saruta at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY back in January, the Filipino star was initially supposed to face grappler Hayato Suzuki in a rematch.
An injury to Suzuki allowed Saruta the opportunity that he took full advantage of en route to the split decision victory. Pacio would win the rematch with Saruta definitively with a fourth-round head kick knockout at ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR just three months after losing the belt.
Suzuki however, holds a first-round submission victory over the reigning champion. The Japanese submission specialist defeated Pacio handily back in 2017, and that loss is one that the Filipino champion might want to avenge as well.
Jonathan Haggerty Vs. Sam-A Gaiyanghadao II
There are several other rematches that could make for exciting bouts throughout the rest of the year.
So far, 2019 has been eventful, and along with Saruta’s victory over Pacio, we also saw young Jonathan Haggerty defeat the legendary Sam-A Gaiyanghadao for the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship at ONE: FOR HONOR in back in May.
Haggerty churned out the win after five rounds of action, but a legend like Gaiyanghadao definitely deserves an opportunity to regain his title in an immediate rematch.
Haggerty proved himself to be a star with weapons that seemed to catch the Thai legend off guard. Haggerty-Gaiyanghadao II would be a great headline bout for ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD on 16 August.
Timofey Nastyuhkin vs. Eddie Alvarez II
In yet another surprising upset, Timofey Nastyuhkin knocked out multiple-time Lightweight World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez in the first round of their ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Quarter-final bout at ONE: A NEW ERA back in March.
It was Alvarez’s ONE Championship debut, and many expected him to reach the final.
Nastyuhkin’s power and size proved to be too much for Alvarez, and the former moved on in the tournament after a dominant stoppage win. If Nastyuhkin doesn’t reach the finals of the Grand Prix, it could set up a possible fourth-quarter rematch with Alvarez.
It would be an excellent opportunity for Alvarez to redeem himself, or for Nastyuhkin to prove his dominance.
Xiong Jing Nan vs. Angela Lee II
How good would a rematch between Xiong Jing Nan and Angela Lee be?
The two women produced an early candidate for Bout of the Year at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo back in March. After dominating the first four rounds, Lee faltered in the final round as she attempted to add Xiong’s ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship to her trophy case and compliment the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship she’s held since its inception.
Xiong powered through a deep triangle arm-bar submission attempt in the fourth round, and even more, amazingly had the energy and power to take advantage and finish off an exhausted Lee in the fifth frame, as she systematically attacked the body of her fatigued opponent.
Aside from the sheer entertainment value the first match produced, this was also a very competitive match that could have gone easily gone Lee’s way as well.
In a rematch, would Xiong handle Lee’s grappling and length better? Would Lee come in with better stamina and a better gas tank?
In any case, this matchup seems destined to have multiple chapters.