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3 Fighters to Watch at ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash

Published 06/28/2022, 2:46 AM EDT

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ONE Championship is just under a month away from its next live spectacle, ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash.

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On Friday, 22 July, the world’s largest martial arts organization will return to the Singapore Indoor Stadium with a packed card of world-class talent.


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Fans know what to expect when the two headlining stars, two-division ONE World Champion Reinier de Ridder and former divisional king Vitaly Bigdash, clash for the ONE Middleweight World Title, but the rest of the evening will also showcase a multitude of impressive athletes who are guaranteed to keep everyone on the edges of their seats.

Here are three fighters in action at ONE 159 who should not be missed when proceedings get underway on 22 July.

#1 Marat Gafurov 

Former Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov is set to return to the global stage at ONE 159 in a lightweight battle with Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton.

The mixed martial arts veteran is fired up to get his career back on track after slipping to a unanimous decision loss to lightweight king Ok Rae Yoon in his last outing in 2021.


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Gafurov used his world-class grappling to claim the featherweight crown, which he successfully defended on two occasions. His impressive 18-4 slate gives him ample experience to draw from, which could create trouble for his Costa Rican rival.

Sexton won’t make it easy for “Cobra,” though, and fans should watch out for “Tarzan’s” slick Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when this fight goes down.

Should the Russian star take home a win in this bout, he could set himself up for an opponent higher up the food chain and keep his hope of threatening the official lightweight rankings alive.

#2 Danial Williams 

“Mini T” Danial Williams has given three electric performances inside the ONE Circle so far, and he’ll hope to celebrate his fourth visit with a victory when he meets Chinese sensation Zelang Zhaxi in a strawweight MMA showdown on 22 July.

The Aussie-Thai dynamo announced himself on the global stage when he took ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon all the way to the judges’ table in his debut at ONE on TNT I in April 2021. Williams ultimately went down to a unanimous decision loss but was commended for his effort, and their bout won 2021’s ONE Super Series Fight of the Year.

“Mini T” followed that impressive showing up by switching to MMA and knocking out former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejadamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in February of this year. He then returned just two months later to defeat Japan’s Namiki Kawahara by unanimous decision and go 2-0 in the all-encompassing sport.

If he can bring the same power and precision to the Circle at ONE 159, Williams could score another win in MMA – and settle into a dominant win streak in the strawweight division.

#3 Zhang Peimian

“Fighting Rooster” Zhang Peimian put on a striking clinic in his ONE debut back in March, and he’s set to return to face Aslanbek Zikreev in a strawweight kickboxing bout at ONE 159.

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The Chinese star used his tremendous punching power, impressive boxing, and devastating speed to finish Australia’s Josh Tonna in the second round of their tussle at ONE: LIGHTS OUT, and he’ll look to utilize the same tools against his upcoming opponent.

Zikreev will undoubtedly be a tough challenge for “Fighting Rooster,” however. The Russian star scored a debut win over Zhang’s compatriot Wang Junguang at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX IV in 2020, and he’s won Muay Thai titles in his home country and on the European circuit.


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Reinier de Ridder Foresees Second-Round Finish Against ‘Predictable’ Vitaly Bigdash at ONE 159; Eyes Arjan Bhullar Next

Fans can expect this to be a fast-paced battle, but if Zhang’s dominant display in his last appearance in the Circle is anything to go by, there’s a good chance the Chinese star will bring an end to this battle before the final bell.



Deepak Kumar

1085 articles

Deepak Kumar is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. His love for MMA comes from the chaos and violence the fight game brings to the table. A BJJ aspirant, Deepak began following the sport as a casual fan when Ronda Rousey was finishing her opponents in seconds.

Edited By: Reubyn Coutinho