3 Reasons Not to Miss the Special Rules Super-Fight Between Yoshihiro Akiyama and Nieky Holzken at ONE 165

Published 01/23/2024, 4:52 AM EST

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ONE Championship’s upcoming spectacle will feature exciting matchups from martial arts superstars – and one bout in particular will surely be one that fans shouldn’t miss.

At ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru on Sunday, January 28, a first-of-its-kind special rules super-fight will take place between striking legend Nieky Holzken and Japanese MMA icon Yoshihiro Akiyama inside the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

The event will be headlined by twin World Title bouts, as local striking icon Takeru Segawa challenges Superlek Kiatmoo9 for the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship, and Kade Ruotolo and Tommy Langaker figuring in a rematch for the lightweight submission grappling strap.


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But there are many reasons why Holzken vs. Akiyama could take the fight of the night, and here are three reasons.

Holzken vs. Akiyama: A Clash of Icons

Both fighters in the match are legends in their respective sports.

Nieky Holzken has over 100 striking bouts to his name and has conquered multiple World Titles in a career that has spanned over two decades. He has fought some of the best both Muay Thai and kickboxing have on offer and has won the hearts of fans all over the world with his exciting brand of fighting.


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Meanwhile, “Sexyama” was a national athlete on Japan’s judo team before he transitioned to mixed martial arts. The 48-year-old has showcased his talents all over the globe and has transcended the world of martial arts, going on to become a global celebrity through TV shows and movies.


Their meeting on Sunday will bring their respective worlds together in a way no one could have imagined.

The First-Of-Its-Kind Ruleset

ONE 165 won’t be the first time that the world’s largest martial arts organization has put together a special rules super-fight, but this latest version offers a unique twist on ONE’s mixed-rules format.

In the first round, the two competitors will be on a relatively even field when they compete under boxing rules. In the second, they will compete in “The Natural’s” forte of kickboxing. If they reach the third round, it will be Akiyama’s turn to reel his opponent to his MMA world.

Prior versions of the special rules super-fights in ONE have seen alternating rounds between Muay Thai and MMA as well as a hand strikes-exclusive match in MMA gloves.

But this latest edition brings a whole new element, which promises another guaranteed banger.

Doors of Possibility Opening

ONE Championship is home to the best fighters in the world across multiple disciplines, making a dream matchup like Yoshihiro Akiyama versus Nieky Holzken a possibility.

Previously, we’ve seen MMA stars clash with striking specialists, like Demetrious Johnson and Rodtang Jitmuangnon – a match that fans and fighters alike would not have even thought could happen in this lifetime.


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With ONE open to innovative matchups like these and watching the fighters thrive in unfamiliar rulesets, it could generate interest in other fighters who wish to step out of their comfort zones and give everyone insane crossover battles.

The Ruotolos against Sage Northcutt with MMA, submission grappling, and kickboxing? How about Anatoly Malykhin squaring off with Roman Kryklia in wrestling, kickboxing, and MMA? Stamp Fairtex in a Muay Thai and MMA clash with Phetjeeja? The possibilities are endless.


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“I’m Going to Go for the Belt” – Determined Rade Opacic Promises to Put On a Stellar Show Against Iraj Azizpour

All the action from ONE 165 will be broadcast live on pay-per-view at watch.onefc.com this Sunday, January 28.


Written by:

Imtikokba Jamir


One take at a time

As someone who's spent his childhood experiencing combat sports firsthand, I have always been in awe of the action in the cage. Post a Degree with Honors in Literature, I quickly realised my penmanship needed some gloves. So here I am , Imtikokba Jamir, a pro writer for UFC at EssentiallySports.
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Edited by:

Yeswanth Praveen