Hiroki Akimoto carried over the success that he enjoyed in the ONE Super Series kickboxing flyweight division to a heavier weight class.
In his bantamweight debut, Akimoto earned a close split-decision win over third-ranked bantamweight contender “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong in the main event of the previously recorded ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II, which aired worldwide last Friday, 16 October.
It was a tightly contested match-up from the get-go with both men having their moments of brilliance in the contest. A jumping knee midway in the first round got things started for Zhang, though Akimoto was undeterred and remained focused on landing clean shots.
The Evolve MMA standout’s biggest moment came in the second round, as a blistering combination – capped off by a head kick – connected for the Japanese star.
With the match hanging in the balance in the third round, it was Akimoto who rose above the occasion. He landed the cleaner and more consistent shots, which helped him earn the narrow victory.
That win improved Akimoto's record to 22-1 and he drew closer to his dream match with reigning ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov.
“Actually, I was really nervous on whether I could win or not, but my coaches really helped me and supported me in this training,” Akimoto said through his interpreter after the match.
“I am really honored and excited to be in the ring and to be fighting again.”
In the co-main event, Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai returned to his original sport in a big way, as he outlasted "Bamboo Sword" Zhang Chunyu in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai featherweight showdown.
Sagetdao focused on mixed martial arts since 2017 and has not competed in a Muay Thai match since 2014, but he looked as good as ever. He dominated in the clinch while evading and countering to near perfection to claim the 163rd win of his career.
Hiroki Akimoto def. “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong via split decision
Featherweight Muay Thai
Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai def. “Bamboo Sword” Zhang Chunyu via unanimous decision
Featherweight Mixed Martial Arts
Tang Kai def. Keanu Subba via unanimous decision
Flyweight Muay Thai
“Metal Storm” Wang Wenfeng def. Azwan Che Wil via unanimous decision
Strawweight Mixed Martial Arts
Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada def. Miao Li Tao via unanimous decision
Bantamweight Muay Thai
Han Zi Hao def. Mohammed “Jordan Boy” Bin Mahmoud via knockout at 0:49 of round three