5 must-see fights at ONE Fight Night 15 this Friday

(From left) Tawanchai PK Saenchai, Thanh Le, Mikey Musumeci. [Image: ONE Championship]
(From left) Tawanchai PK Saenchai, Thanh Le, Mikey Musumeci. [Image: ONE Championship]

Topped by a pair of massive world title fights, ONE Championship’s next fight card, ONE Fight Night 15, has all the ingredients to continue the promotion’s goal of taking martial arts to a new level.

With MMA, kickboxing, and submission grappling battles on offer, the 15th installment of ONE’s Amazon Prime Video bills is set to be another classic when it gets underway inside the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in U.S. primetime.

Less than a week before the show, we look at five must-watch contests that get underway inside the ‘Mecca of Muay Thai' this Friday, October 6.

#5 Joshua Pacio vs. Mansur Malachiev

As a former divisional king, Joshua Pacio is expected to bounce back without an issue and reclaim his world title with a majestic showing this week.

A five-time ONE strawweight MMA world champion, ‘The Passion’ has beaten fighters from various backgrounds using his unorthodox striking, silky ground game, and ability to jumble them into a bag of tricks.

However, his next challenger is none other than hard-charging Mansur Malachiev, who sits as the division’s No.5-ranked contender after a highly impressive first-round submission win over Jeremy Miado at ONE Fight Night 11 in June.

The 31-year-old Russian has used his world-class grappling and athleticism to smother opponents on his way to an unblemished 11-0 slate.

As such, the ONE Championship star would be confident of securing a victory against the former divisional king in Bangkok, but Pacio isn’t heading to the capital city to make numbers – he’s more than ready to prove why he should be the next man in line for reigning king Jarred Brooks.

#4 Tawanchai PK Saenchai vs. Jo Nattawut

There aren’t many athletes who can showcase the more poetic side of Muay Thai better than Tawanchai PK Saenchai.

The 24-year-old superstar has enjoyed a wicked spell over the past two years with dominant wins over Niclas Larsen, Saemapetch Fairtex, Jamal Yusupov, and most recently, Davit Kiria.

Blessed with power at the tip of his striking weapons and intelligence of the highest order, the PK Saenchai Muay Thai Gym representative is well on the cusp of achieving another massive year after claiming the promotion’s Fighter of the Year award last year.

He will be coming out with typical tenacity when he returns to the global stage of ONE Championship this Friday. But looking to ruin his party is formidable Jo Nattawut.

The American-based martial artist has plenty of knockout power and is a constant threat inside the pocket. Moreover, he’s already added some big scalps to his resume over the past decade.

Tawanchai’s work of art could present a big challenge for the 34-year-old, but he has swum in an ocean of sharks on multiple occasions and is fired up to do what no fighter has done in ONE Championship – finish the ONE featherweight Muay Thai world champion.

#3 Jonathan Di Bella vs. Danial Williams

Fireworks are guaranteed when this pair of exciting fighters go toe-to-toe with the world title on the line. Jonathan Di Bella’s explosive striking arsenals in kickboxing will cross paths alongside Danial William’s more technical and daring fight style.

The ONE strawweight kickboxing world champion, who owns a perfect 11-0 record in his career, is eager to leave a mark inside the ONE Championship circle, and a victory over ‘Mini T’ could help him a long way in building that reputation.

Di Bella has a huge amount of momentum on his side, and he seems positive that he can take another huge win back home to Montreal. Williams isn’t going to be a walk in the park, though.

The Perth native’s aggression is always at 100 percent and he will bring the fight to the divisional king by whatever means possible.

He’s always been a must-watch superstar, and one wrong move from the defending king could possibly earn him the prize that he’s been craving since he joined ONE Championship.

#2 Mikey Musumeci vs Shinya Aoki

Mikey Musumeci has enjoyed a perfect spell at ONE Championship with a 5-0 run, four world title wins, three submissions, and multiple performance bonuses.

At the rate he’s going ‘Darth Rigatoni’ seems like he’s on his way to becoming one of the finest superstars on the ONE Championship roster.

The ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion is, after all, one of – if not – the best competitors in the discipline. He’s been the flag bearer of the discipline wherever he’s gone, and that seems to be the case as he faces off against Japanese legend Shinya Aoki.

However, in a battle of the new and old, ‘Darth Rigatoni’ could find himself in one of the tougher stylistic matches he’s faced in his career.

‘Tobikan Judan’ has been tapping out opponents since the former was only a kid, and his experience will be a huge trump card in this showdown.

But if he fails to do so, he's at the risk of being yet another legend that Musumeci will add to his list of victims in ONE Championship.

#1 Thanh Le vs Ilya Freymanov

Reigning ONE featherweight MMA world champion Tang Kai might have been forced to postpone his return. But ONE Championship has found two rightful contenders, Thanh Le and Ilya Freymanov, to keep the action rolling in the jam-packed division.

The superstars meet in the main event of the bill for a chance to be crowned the interim king, and they have plenty to prove this Friday, October 6.

Le believes this battle could prepare him for an upcoming contest versus Tang – should he win. Moreover, he’s fired up to put memories of his title loss to bed.

Russian upstart Freymanov, on the flip side, hopes to take out another top contender as he makes his way to the top of the featherweight mountain.

After back-to-back wins over tough opponents in ONE Championship, including a highlight-reel finish of former kingpin Martin Nguyen, the Krasnodar native has set the division on notice.

With both men’s reputations as finishers, a knockout is near-guaranteed when they collide in this interim showdown that serves as the main event of ONE Fight Night 15.

North American fans with an active Amazon Prime Video subscription can catch all the action live and for free in U.S. primetime.

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Edited by C. Naik