KUALA LUMPUR: ONE Super Series’ explosive action and top-class battles have transcended throughout 2019, and the standards will be raised again on Friday, 17 May, when eight world-class athletes go head-to-head in the quarterfinals of the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix.
The tournament, which takes place at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, features several multiple-time World Champions including Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Giorgio Petrosyan, Sasha Moisa, Jo Nattawut, Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy, Dzhabar Askerov, Enriko Kehl, and Samy Sana.
Ahead of this colossal event, Terengganu native Saiful “The Vampire” Merican shared his expert analysis of the biggest tournament in martial arts history.
#1 Dzhabar Askerov VS Enriko Kehl
Two-time TNA Kickboxing World Champion Dzhabar “Genghis Khan” Askerov is no stranger to the scene, and his striking supremacy will be put to the test in his promotional debut against a young, but explosive athlete in Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl.
This past March, Kehl secured a delightful knockout victory in Yangon, Myanmar, which earned him a spot in the World Grand Prix.
However, Saiful is confident Askerov will upset the German athlete.
“Both athletes are very good. Askerov is, of course, the more experienced guy, but I think Kehl’s lankier physique will cause some troubles,” he explained. “If all goes well, I think Askerov can seal the win by the third round.”
#2 Jo Nattawut VS Sasha Moisa
One of Thailand’s finest strikers “Smokin’” Jo Nattawut returns to action against Ukraine’s Sasha Moisa.
Originally scheduled to face Andy Souwer, the Thai will bring his extensive skill set and well-conditioned form to the ring against his new opponent. According to “The Vampire,” he believes Nattawut will emerge victorious.
“I started seeing ‘Smokin’’ Jo since he joined ONE Championship, but he’s been really good,” he said. “His first-round win in Malaysia against Yohann Fairtex Drai shows you what he's made of.”
The tournament will bring together eight of the world’s best stand-up martial artists. - ONE photo
#3 Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex VS Samy Sana
Saiful has long admired Thai icon Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, and when “The Boxing Computer” enters the Singapore Indoor Stadium for his bout against Frenchman Samy Sana, he believes he will not have any trouble securing his 203rd career victory.
“There’s nothing much to say about Yodsanklai anymore,” he joked, before breaking down just how good the multiple-time World Champion is.
“I’d compare this guy to a piranha — he takes little bites in the first round, but smashes you in the later rounds. He’ll win this match for sure.”
#4 Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy VS Giorgio Petrosyan
The final ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix quarterfinal bout will pit Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy against kickboxing legend Giorgio "The Doctor" Petrosyan.
Petrosyan is the more natural kickboxer, and he is known for his surgical precision. Because of that, Saiful thinks he will pull away with the victory by decision.
“Technicality is Petrosyan’s biggest strength, and if he can’t get a knockout, he’s just as good at picking you into pieces,” the Malaysian striker said.
“He rarely goes for the kill, but that’s what makes him fun to watch. I also want him to win because I want to see a Yodsanklai versus Giorgio final.”