The biggest threats to the stars of ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD
Martial arts at the highest level is about neutralizing threats. Every athlete set to compete on the ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD card in Bangkok, Thailand, will have to walk that line.
Focusing specifically on the most prominent stars set to battle on 16 August, there are distinct areas to highlight as each of them prepare for their next challenge.
Beginning at the very top, ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion and Thai superstar Petchdam Petchyindee Academy will have the toughest title defense and challenge he's seen since signing with ONE.
Multiple time champion Illias Ennahachi presents at least one significant impediment.
Petchdam Vs. Illias Ennahachi's Length
Petchdam enjoys a size and length advantage over most opponents, but that won't be the case against Ennahachi. The Dutch-Moroccan challenger is 5'10," and he knows how to use his length in combat. Some tall combat sports athletes take away their own length advantage by crouching or smothering opponents, but not Ennahachi. He will be able to negate some of what Petchdam does from a distance.
Petrosyan's Letdown and Potential Fatigue
After battling Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy twice already this year, and most recently in July at ONE: MASTERS OF DESTINY, it would be understandable if Giorgio Petrosyan was mentally exhausted. Aside from facing such a formidable challenger like Petchmorakot, there were also extenuating circumstances surrounding the rematch.
Initially, Petchmorakot was ruled the winner, but the decision was a disputed one. After a review, the result was changed to a No Contest. Petrosyan won the rematch to finally advance to the semifinals of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix.
With just a month to prepare, Petrosyan must defeat Smokin' Jo Nattawut in a rematch of a 2018 bout. Clearly, Petrosyan has a significant challenge ahead of him.
Jo Nattawut's Improvement
In addition to the quick turnaround ahead of him, Petrosyan must also deal with a skilled opponent who has had time to prepare. Nattawut is someone who seems to improve with every outing. After losing a competitive battle with Petrosyan in 2018, there is a good chance he will make some adjustments. He has the tools to provide Petrosyan with a formidable challenge and to perhaps pull off the upset.
As much as Stamp Fairtex has accomplished in the worlds of kickboxing and Muay Thai, she is still largely inexperienced in mixed martial arts. She'll have her second mixed martial arts bout in her career in Bangkok, and it's against India's Asha Roka. Stamp's striking is an obvious plus for her, but we could find out quickly how much she's learned in the area of grappling.
Roka is a boxer by base trade, but she does have two wins by submission in her career. If she feels incapable of getting the best of Stamp in stand-up exchanges, it might behove her to take the battle to the canvas. At some point, an opponent is going to test Stamp's grappling, and we'll have to see her defend herself off her back. Perhaps that challenge will come from Roka.
While taking the battle to the ground is an option for Roka, she might also elect to keep the battle standing while she leans on her boxing skills. Roka is a former National Champion in India, and she was bound for the Olympics until the federation over the sport in her country folded. She then turned to mixed martial arts and has gone 4-0 during her career. Her hands are fast and she is a great judge of space.
It’ll be interesting to see if her striking is a match for the volume Stamp brings in her kickboxing and Muay Thai matches. There is no guarantee it will all translate.
Samy Sana’s Letdown
Yodsanklai is a legend of the sport. He was favored to advance to the finals of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix. However, the Frenchman’s length and resilience proved to be too much for Yodsanklai on that evening, and it was Sana who advanced. With just two wins separating Sana from the US $1 million prize awaiting the winner of the Grand Prix, is it possible Sana will suffer a letdown?
Askerov is his semifinal opponent, and while there were obviously no issues getting up for Yodsanklai, it’s not preposterous to think that Sana could potentially take Askerov lightly. If he does that, he might be positioning himself to be upset, and that would be a heartbreaker considering the caliber of opponents he defeated in the quarterfinals.
To move into the finals, Sana needs to deliver the same level of intensity and control that he showed against Yodsanklai. Askerov will be hoping to take advantage of an overconfident Sana.