Another week brings us yet another event from ONE, this time on non-other than Christmas Day. ONE: Collision Course II sporting another intriguing six-fight card for us all to enjoy, even on the most festive day of the year. In this article I will be taking a closer look at Collision Course II, the two super series bouts present on the card, including the main event, a potential Muay Thai featherweight title eliminator between Samy “AK47” Sana and Jamal Yusupov.
Walter Gonclaves vs Momotaro
The first super series matchup for ONE: Collision Course II is a pivotal Muay Thai flyweight bout between former title challenger Walter Goncalves and Japanese mainstay Kohei Kodera, or as he’s widely known, Momotaro. In many ways this is a very important bout for both guys and believe it or not, it has title implications.
For Goncalves, this may only be his second bout under the ONE banner but make no mistake this guy is a very very talented fighter and that maiden voyage displayed this. His debut was for a title shot against the current flyweight Muay Thai champ Rodtang where he lost a split decision, so definitely the toughest debut matchup he could have been given but he really did impress with some moments of real promise.
He may only be 22 years old and just 5’3 but this man is a powerhouse. One of the main aspects of his game is the explosiveness he possesses, especially in that rear leg and right hand, one minute he’s slowly picking at your base and the next he’s firing on all cylinders with venomous kicks and ferocious combinations coming from unpredictable angles. Against a guy like Rodtang he was inevitably forced to work off the back foot and he adjusted to this very well, blasting the legs of the Thai to inhibit his forward movement, backing his chin, and planting with some very hard shots.
He’s fast, explosive, can take a hit and he’s also very creative, especially with his elbow strikes. Often, we see him look for a spear Esque elbow to split the guard and even some vertical elbows to mix up the angles and find that chin, he certainly keeps his opponents guessing. He also loves a spinning attack and is no stranger to a snapping question mark kick as Rodtang discovered with a nasty shin to the dome.
Walter really impressed on his ONE debut and has some very entertaining qualities when It comes to watching him in the circle, an impressive showing against the champ boosts his confidence as he faces the always dangerous Momotaro, a fight that could get him back in the running for a definitive title eliminator or another date with the champ.
While Walter likes to sit down on his strikes and explode on his opponents, his opponent Momotaro is all about creating the right opportunity, reading his opponent, and striking like a viper. Momotaro has 4 fights to his name in ONE and is 2-2 in the promotion. Although having two losses, they are against a pair of very accomplished Muay Thai practitioners in Lerdsila and most recently Petchdam. Momotaro also finds himself with one of the quickest finishes in super series history after his 41 second demolition of Singtongnoi last year.
Derived from that Karate background, Momotaro adopts a bouncy and illusive more side-on stance, using those sidekicks to negate range, hand feints to draw reactions, and stance switches to maintain an unpredictable diversity in the attack. Momotaro likes to start hard and fast, set the pace, and control the action, instantly pressing the fight, popping those kicks out, and blitzing in with those lightning-fast straight punches and hooks round the guard. The Japanese man moves with his strikes and flows very nicely, mobility is a very big part of his game. His footwork sets up those attacking surges and sets traps to draw his opponents in. I’d expect Walter to definitely employ a leg kick heavy game plan here to negate the movement of his opponent so he can have more of a say in dictating the pace of the fight.
We saw in his most recent outing against former flyweight kickboxing champ Petchdam, that he has what it takes to compete with top guys in the division, he was landing those blitzes and counters and was constantly on the move and giving the Thai different looks. His creativity also contributes to his illusive nature, the movement and facades in the way of stance switching and hand action disguise his strikes and so his creative attempts in the form of spinning attacks often catch people off guard.
Momotaro is very experienced and a very good test for Walter for his Muay Thai ability against a different style of opponent. A win here will put him back up there in the conversation for a definitive title eliminator or a crack at the belt for the first time.
ONE: Collision Course II offers a Muay Thai cracker with all the makings and implications of a very good fight … but who takes it?
Samy Sana vs Jamal Yusupov
The second and final super series matchup of Collision Course II is of course the main event. Kickboxing standout Samy Sana makes the move to Muay Thai, in a title eliminator against the man who pulled of one of the upsets of the year last November in his ONE debut, Jamal Yusupov.
Samy Sana is a guy I really don’t think gets enough respect at all, this is a guy with an extremely disciplined guard, some seriously underrated power and crazy length and size for a featherweight. In 150 fights Sana has not been finished once which is a testament to his defence. Not only can he take a shot very very well and has that grit and heart that you can’t teach, has an incredibly refined defense, he sticks to the fundamentals, making up for his lack of agility with a very very secure defensive wall which sees him honestly not let many shots through at all. Especially if you pair that with his power, length and penetrative boxing I honestly think he could be a very big threat in that ONE Muay Thai bracket.
Samy is coming off a very good 2019 which saw him reach the final of the ONE kickboxing featherweight grand prix where he was defeated by Giorgio Petrosyan in the final. This is a guy who definitely surprised a lot of people in that tournament, defeating Muay Thai great and one of the favorites to win, Yodsanklai in the first round of the tournament. This set him up for a dominant performance over Dzhabar Askerov which saw him cruise to the final.
Sana in Muay Thai is going to be especially dangerous in the transition to 4-ounce gloves. That right cross was already a nightmare for opponents in kickboxing gloves and I think those boxing flurries are going to be all the more dangerous in this environment. As I mentioned, the right hand is Samy’s key weapon and he sets it up very well. If we take the fight with Yod for example, he applied the pressure to find an opening for that right hand and used those knees and left kicks as a foundation for his key weapon. The knee would allow him to close the distance and give something for Yod to think about while the right-hand blasts straight down the middle and suddenly starts to take a toll. The left kick was a way he could land at range yet using the long reach he possesses could still fire off a right hand after the fact to catch his opponent off guard and really do some damage.
That very strong defense and those dangerous hands can certainly cause a lot of problems for that Muay Thai featherweight division and given the lack of depth, a win here against a guy who was originally meant to fight for the belt, I believe will give him another crack at ONE gold.
Jamal Yusupov was by no means a household name when he joined ONE and fought Yodsanklai in his debut, but he certainly made a statement with a huge upset, knocking out the Thai legend in round two to put the division on notice and make his claim for a crack at the belt. Unfortunately, the title shot fell through but now the Dagestani man is back and looking to takes what is his.
Much like Sana, Jamal has a boxing-based style and used to be a kickboxer, hence the more refined hands he is hoping to use against more kick heavy guys in the Muay Thai world. Jamal is a tough and durable southpaw with a great chin and some very dangerous hands. Yod is a mutual opponent for both combatants here, both pulling off huge upsets against him, so I think it’s fitting we take a look at that bout.
Jamal employed that hard nose style, walking forward, and eating the powerful kicks of the Thai and biding his time, waiting for that opportunity to strike. Much like Samy, his power hand is his money shot which he often builds off kicks. We saw this in the first knockdown against Yod where his kick was caught but followed up with a cracking left straight which put his opponent down.
Another notable feature of Jamal’s game is his lead handwork though. He puts his lead hand to great use against Yod, sticking the jab in his face, often doubling up with another jab or a whipping lead hook round the guard, always giving the Thai something to think about and using the lead as a construction block for the more significant blows. This man has some serious power, and he throws his shots in an unorthodox manner, almost slightly looping and hammer fist like at times as he crashes down through the guard like a tidal wave.
Unlike Samy, Jamal likes to take his time and let the opportunities form with his lead hand probing and accuracy, drawing the counter to crack back with a powerful combination. His killer instinct is not in question either, as we saw against Yod, he remained calm and composed, picking his shots nicely, building off the lead hand to find the finishing blow.
I think Yusupov is going to be overlooked in this division, but he has the power, composure, and fight IQ to pull off upsets as we’ve already seen from him. Do not count this man out, he is as hungry for that title as Mr. AK47 himself.
ONE Collision course II goes down on Christmas day where we will see these top tier strikers go to war! Make sure you tune in, enjoy the fights, and a Merry Christmas to you all! Collision Course II Collision Course II Collision Course II Collision Course II
Featured Image Credits to ONE Championship
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