ONE Fight Night 16, A Convergence of Kickboxing Titans

October 30, 2023
From: Spartacus

One of the most captivating tales emerging from the kickboxing arena is that of Anna “Supergirl” Jaroonsak. Initially a stalwart in the Muay Thai discipline, her transition into kickboxing has garnered considerable attention. The 19-year-old Thai athlete is set to confront three-time Kickboxing World Champion, Cristina Morales, at the anticipated ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade.

In analyzing her trajectory, two fights stand out: a narrow defeat to Stamp Fairtex, followed by a commendable win against Lara Fernandez. These bouts not only solidified her reputation but also fortified her technique. Jaroonsak elaborated on her learning curve, stating, “From the insights gleaned from my recent bouts, I have progressively understood kickboxing regulations, specifically leveraging my knee strikes. My bout with Stamp Fairtex underscored the calibre I can match.”

Despite her rooted affinity for Muay Thai, Jaroonsak finds kickboxing to be a strategic alignment with her inherent style. She remarked, “The dynamics of kickboxing afford me a more assertive stance. A victory over Morales could potentially pave the way for a challenge against the revered ONE Women’s Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion.”

However, the challenge posed by Morales, especially given her battles against some of the sport’s luminaries, is palpable. Jaroonsak, after extensively studying Morales, observed, “Her predominant reliance on boxing, though a strength, can be exploited as a tactical weakness. A diversified combat approach could potentially give me the upper hand.”

As the combat community keenly awaits this face-off, Jaroonsak conveyed a succinct message to Morales: “Our anticipated bout is imminent. I trust we both will bring our utmost to the ring, ensuring a memorable contest.”

Parallelly, the kickboxing fraternity is abuzz with the much-anticipated showdown between the seasoned Rui Botelho and the young dynamo, Zhang Peimian. 

Rui Botelho, the 28-year-old Portuguese striker, is no stranger to the limelight. His return to the ONE Championship arena this Friday promises fireworks. Botelho, unabashed in his confidence, states, “I think I’m better than him.” A sentiment echoing his readiness to tackle Zhang, a rising strawweight kickboxing sensation.

Having celebrated his 20th birthday only last month, Zhang, nicknamed “Fighting Rooster,” has made quite an impact with a record that speaks volumes—17-2-1, including three significant wins within the globe’s premier martial arts entity. His only blemish in recent memory was the close defeat to Jonathan Di Bella at ONE 162 in October 2022. Yet, Zhang’s forward-pressure style, combined with his lightning speed, has often left his rivals struggling to keep pace.

Botelho, on his part, sees this bout as an intersection of complementing combat styles. “He likes to fight, to go inside and be aggressive,” Botelho remarked. “That fits very well with my fighting style.” A testament to the Portuguese striker’s readiness to dance to the rhythm set by Zhang in the squared circle.

However, Zhang’s prowess, no matter how impressive, doesn’t seem to intimidate the experienced Botelho. Having squared off against the likes of ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion Superlek Kiatmoo9 and Muay Thai World Champion Panpayak Jitmuangnon, Botelho believes he holds an edge. His succinct analysis of Zhang being, “What makes him dangerous, I think, are his hands.”

Yet, despite his admitted limited knowledge about Zhang, Botelho’s strategy is evident: trust in his skills, anticipate his opponent’s moves, and seize any advantage the bout presents.

For Botelho, this isn’t just another fight. After rigorous challenges in the flyweight category, his shift to the strawweight division signals a strategic pivot. A win against Zhang, one of the division’s standout athletes, could potentially transform the trajectory of his kickboxing journey. The ultimate prize? A chance to challenge Jonathan Di Bella for the ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Title. 

“This fight will be the beginning of my journey toward the ONE [Strawweight] Kickboxing World Title,” declares Botelho. He is fully aware of what’s at stake, a sentiment echoed in his prediction of the fight outcome.

As anticipation builds, Botelho’s parting shot is one of assurance and entertainment. “I think it will be an interesting fight for the public,” he says, and adds, “But, without a doubt, at the end of the fight, I’m the one who will talk to Mitch Chilson.”

As the combat sports community braces itself for these electrifying clashes, the stage at Bangkok’s Lumpinee Boxing Stadium is ready to host two potentially defining moments in kickboxing history. Both Anna “Supergirl” Jaroonsak’s encounter with Cristina Morales and Rui Botelho’s face-off against Zhang Peimian promise to be more than just fights. 

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