ONE Championship Friday Fights 55: Muay Thai Masterclass

March 12, 2024
4 months

ONE Championship is in Bangkok, Thailand, as the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium is set to host Friday Fights 55. This card is stacked full of Muay Thai bouts that should define the division going forward. Bangkok’s Avatar will headline the night as he fights the decorated Kiamran Nabati.

Will Nabati Keep Undefeated Status?

Those involved in Muay Thai and Kickboxing appreciate that the fighters are typically a lot more active than boxers and mixed martial artists. This leads to a lot more fights per year and a much greater chance of suffering defeats. Therefore, it’s common for these fighters to have incurred a loss. Kiamran Nabati appears to buck that trend—all of the Russian results record that he’s never been defeated. Of course, this might not be as extensive as to cover his brawls in the underground clubs of Buynaksk, but professionally, he’s never been defeated. As such, Nabati is ranked as one of the best kickboxers in the world right now, but since joining ONE Championship in 2023, he has focused solely on his Muay Thai career.

The man standing opposite him is Avatar PK Saenchai. He’s one of the most active fighters on the roster, having already fought and won in 2024. He’s had almost 100 fights in his established combat career, but it would be a real high point for him to knock off the undefeated Russian fighter here on his home turf.

Diachkova Edges Toward Title Fight

Since relocating to Chonburi, Natalya Diachkova has been a real force in ONE Championship’s Muay Thai division. The Russian-born fighter ditched her MMA career after losing two of her first three fights and specialized in Muay Thai, the original combat sport she participated in. Dokmaipa Fairtex, Lena Nocker, and Hannah Brady were all defeated by Diachkova, and she’s gone 3-0 in her ONE career thus far. Getting a fourth win will make the Atomweight Muay Thai champion, Allycia Rodrigues, stand up and pay attention.

Affectionately known as the Karelian Lynx, she has earned a reputation for incredible punch combinations. She showcased her striking ability when she finished Lena Nocker and Dokmaipa Fairtex in the first round of each fight. Could she make it another early night here?

The woman standing in the way of Diachkova’s ascendency is Chellina Chirino. The 24-year-old Dutchwoman has only fought once in ONE, losing via split decision to Yuly Alves in December. She had significant success in her native Netherlands on the Enfusion cards but needs to validate her spot on the ONE roster.

Kabutov Needs a Win

Fighters don’t get many second chances. When they go on a losing streak, there are instantly many more fighters who have earned a better spot on the card and are closer to a title shot. Sherzod Kabutov has lost his last four fights in ONE Championship, making many think the Kyrgyzstani is finished. However, he has made some notable changes. He was competing in the Muay Thai ranks but is now set to fight in the kickboxing division after a much-needed change.

Unfortunately, his opponent for his first kickboxing fight isn’t going to be a pushover. Taiki Naito also has a rich history in Muay Thai, having won championships in the discipline and Shoot Boxing. This Japanese combatant has been fighting with ONE for an extended period now and knows the lay of the land. He, too, had a disastrous 2023, losing too many fights in a calendar year. A loss for either man would be very destructive, while the winner will get to extend their career in the promotion.

Khaliev and Pereira Fight in Only MMA Fight

While many MMA news websites brand ONE Championship as another promotion, it is far from that. It champions all combat sports disciplines, not just the popular mixed martial arts format. There’s still space on the card for a singular MMA-rules contest. Khasan Khaliev is set to make his ONE debut at the tender age of 35, having last fought in 2021 in Khabib Nurmagomedov’s promotion, Eagles Fighting Championship. He has the interesting distinction of never winning or losing a fight by knockout. Could he earn a first win like this to improve his 4-2 record?

Standing on the other side of the cage from him is Matheus ‘Blessed’ Pereira. This Brazilian couldn’t have made a better start in his ONE career when he won his debut fight within 68 seconds by delivering a series of punches that knocked out Sumit Bhyan. While his overall record now stands at 5-3, he’s showing great potential to advance the MMA rankings in this promotion. If he can knock off the veteran Russian, he’ll be in good stead to get featured on a more giant card. Unlike his opponent, Pereira loves to finish fights early, given that he’s never made it to the final bell.

Japan’s Best Submission Grapplers in Bangkok

The show opens with a submission grappling contest between two Japanese fighters as Shoya Ishiguro faces off against Toshiyasu Sagae. These two bantamweights have been active in their divisions on Japanese cards; however, submission grappling remains a minority interest in combat sports. Therefore, the two fighters are taking part on a bigger stage here as part of the ONE Championship to showcase the sport. Can these two help the sport grow and make it more relevant to MMA news sites?

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By Dean McHugh.