Like many new name cards in the post-COVID era of ONE Championship Collision Course is a card that features most of the promotion’s heavy hitters.
Collision Course, however, is so stacked that even the heavy hitters are being overshadowed and not talked about. One of these is the Lightweight clash of Gafurov vs Tynanes.
There are very good reasons why this fight is going under everyone’s radar, which is why I’m here to re-calibrate everyone to the actual importance of this fight.
Since he lost his world title to Martin Nguyen at ONE: Quest for Greatness, The Cobra has been on an up and down journey. He’s traded wins and losses in the past three years, keeping him from building any kind of momentum to make a title run.
He came back strong against Emilio Urrutia, but faltered against Koyomi Matsushima. Gafurov then survived against Tetsuya Yamada but then moved up to Lightweight and ran into a surprising Iuri Lapicus.
With the exception of Urrutia, Gafurov has not had an easy run and his current limbo is definitely not because of lack of ability. However, the last memory people have of him is being choked out by Iuri Lapicus in the first round – the same Lapicus that got taken out by Christian Lee in the Co-Main Event of ONE: Inside the Matrix.
MMA math should never be trusted but this sequence shines a harsh light on Gafurov. While he rightly should have stayed in the Featherweight Top 5, most people see him as a past his prime Champion that’s being outpaced by the younger generation.
This Gafurov v. Tynanes matchup is his chance to prove everyone wrong.
The Lochness of ONE Championship
Lowen Tynanes is a fighter that should have been with Pieter Buist and Iuri Lapicus in making up three of the Top 5 when the Lightweight rankings were first announced. Now the Hawaiian athlete finds himself in the rankings only because Timofey Nasatyukhin demolished Buist at ONE: Inside the Matrix II.
This undefeated fighter has definitely been slept on by fans and management alike, but it’s strangely not their fault. That’s because Lowen Tynanes has been notably inactive throughout his MMA career.
There’s a two-year gap between his second and third fight in the promotion (due to some questionable contract practices by King of the Cage), and a further three-year gap between his fifth and sixth appearance. The man only has ten professional fights in a career that began in 2011.
To put that into context, Gafurov turned pro in 2010, but doubles his productivity at 20 professional fights. You can’t expect people to pay attention and give you props when you only appear when the stars align.
Fortunately, the man’s quality outstrips his quantity. Not only is he yet to taste defeat, but he also has wins over Eduard Folayang, Koji Ando, and Honorio Banario. All champion-caliber fighters, two of whom he finished in the first round.
A Potential Lightweight Firestarter
The reason why people should pay attention to Gafurov v. Tynanes despite the circumstances surrounding both fighters is fairly obvious. They are dangerous athletes that can burn through the Top 5 if they have a good night.
Lest we forget, Gafurov is still a former Champion that won six fights in a row with one move. Everyone knew what the game plan was and it took the Featherweight division three years to stop it. Heck, it took Martin Nguyen two tries to win.
Though the Cobra is relatively undersized in his new division, he’s still better than 90% of them and just needs to get his bearings and cover the obvious predictability of his game. Or not, only the Top 5 will have enough ability to stop his RnC coming.
Meanwhile no one has yet been able to solve the Tynanes puzzle. He has KOs, submissions, and decisions – he can do it all. Research won’t do anyone any good as there won’t be enough tape of him to form a solid game plan around.
Trying to fight Tynanes is like going to the cage blank and just let whatever happens happen.
But the most intriguing part of Gafurov vs Tynanes is the possible effects to the athletes if they win.
The Next Step
Since Buist’s ousting from the Lightweight Top 5, Tynanes is currently #5 in the division. If he wins, this provides Gafurov a clear path to the belt in his second fight in the division.
With a victory, Gafurov will undoubtedly take Tynanes’ place and can either challenge Shinya Aoki or Iuri Lapicus to climb further up the ladder. But it all depends on Timofey Nastyukhin who has options to go for either Dagi, Lapicus, or Lee himself for his next fight.
If Tynanes wins his position won’t change much, unfortunately. Lapicus was given a title shot on the strength of his win over Gafurov and he got dominated by Lee. Gafurov’s stock took a hit with that loss and ONE’s management aren’t going to do the same move for Tynanes.
He will have to, unfortunately, either run the gauntlet of the Top 5 or build his case by guarding his place against every other fighter in the division that wants his spot on the list – Pieter Buist included.
All in all, Gafurov vs Tynanes is a matchmaking stroke of genius and everyone should keep an eye on it.
Featured Image Credits to ONE Championship
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