The ONE Championship heavyweight division is an ever-growing competitive field. Many key matchups in that weight category are still to come this calendar year.
I spoke with ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong and he offered up his thoughts on some of those contests and the division at large.
The burgeoning ONE Heavyweight division and if a Grand Prix is possible
“We have been making a conscious effort to beef up our heavyweight division the last several months. You have seen some of it. In fact, on September 24th for ONE: Revolution we have a title eliminator fight between Anatoly Malykhin who’s a 9-0, 250-pound specimen from Russia, versus Amir Aliakbari, Greco Roman world champion from Iran, who is I believe 10-2. The winner will face Arjan Bhullar. We haven’t thought of a Grand Prix in the heavyweight division yet but I think you’re right.”
ONE Championship Heavyweight division
“I mean, we keep on recruiting more and more talented heavyweights. And if we get to the level where I’m happy, then we would do it, you know. I really try to reserve grand prix for divisions that I really feel are the best in the world. And I don’t want to do it unless I really believe it. So obviously the Atomweight division is, in my opinion, the best in the world. And that’s why we have the Grand Prix ongoing. We did it for the flyweight division in which DJ won a couple of years ago. We also did it for the lightweight division which Christian (Lee) won.”
Amir Aliakbari being in a title eliminator and what’s next for Kang Ji Won who stopped Aliakbari in the first round
“We did offer him (Kang Ji Won) a fight against Buchecha. But he had to turn it down because his eye is apparently still injured from the Aliakbari fight. So we were trying to make Buchecha and Kang. Buchecha is also one of these prospects you know. Even though he’s 0-0 in MMA. He’s obviously the most decorated Jiu-Jitsu world champion in history. For a heavyweight, he’s the most athletic heavyweight Jiu-Jitsu has ever seen.”
“He moves like a lightweight, he moves like a featherweight. His balance, his explosiveness, his speed is insane. And I do believe it will carry over very well in MMA. His debut is obviously in a couple of weeks. On September 24th at ONE: Revolution. But I have high expectations of Buchecha, you know.”
Buchecha’s MMA debut against Anderson Braddock Silva and if Gordon Ryan is still targeting a mixed martial arts crossover
“No, I think Gordon is just taking it step by step. He obviously has his stomach issues, he’s getting through it. He just messaged me last week. So I think he’s getting better. He’s gonna come back as an athlete. And I think submission grappling as well as MMA. He definitely has both goals in mind in terms of being a world champion. On the ONE Championship stage.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.