ONE Championship ends their monthlong foray into charming the hearts of American audiences, and the action has delivered so far. Now we end with another handful of their most popular stars putting on a show.
Aung La N Sang (26-11) was supposed to face sturdy Russian Vitaly Bigdash, but unfortunately, Bigdash had to bow out due to COVID. Instead, we get a rematch between N Sang and Dutchman Reinier de Ridder (13-0). de Ridder had defeated N Sang for the middleweight (actually light heavyweight) title in a shocking upset back in October, and now he challenges N Sang for the light heavyweight (actually heavyweight) title for all the marbles. If you’re not familiar with him, de Ridder is a threat anywhere with his use of distance and crafty submission game. He always knows what he can do wherever he’s at, even if his opponent forgets.
Now N Sang still has an unreal amount of power and durability, often able to walk down opponents and do major damage in short order. Training at Sanford MMA, he’s got a great crew to work with and might be able to fend off the Dutch upstart. If not, it’ll be a crushing blow to the former dual champ.
Eddie Alvarez (30-8, 2 no-contests) recently had his latest DQ loss reversed to a no-contest, and now he’ll have a quick turnaround for his next bout against Rae Yoon Ok (14-3). But Ok has a quicker turnaround, as he just recently defeated Marat Gafurov by decision just last week. How was he cleared to fight this week? Not sure! Doesn’t matter! He’ll be taking on an all-time great in the biggest fight of his career, and he’ll have to be slick with his rangy strikes and make the most of his cardio. As for Alvarez, we all know his aggressive striking and punishing wrestling pace is something a lot of opponents don’t get a full appreciation of until they experience it first-hand. Let’s see how Ok handles this challenge.
Did you enjoy Reug Reug? Of course you did, and you’re in luck. After sending kickboxer Patrick Schmid to another realm just a few short weeks ago, Reug Reug (government name Oumar Kane, 3-0) brings his lutte experience and cinderblock fists against Belarusian finisher Kirill Grishenko (3-0). Grishenko has a decent all-around game and some punishing ground strikes, but Schmid got outstruck by a rudimentary hitter in Reug Reug. I’m just mentioning that to remind you that while it’s frowned upon to expect a fighter to just muscle out of everything, it’s unreal how Kane has been doing this with great success and made a meal out of it. Grishenko could easily play spoiler here being the most technical opponent Kane has faced, but the tables can be turned at any moment in the fight.
Shinya Aoki (46-9) is a grappling demigod that has quietly improved his striking, but it’s all just in service of getting the fight where he wants. He’s up for a rubber match against Filipino former champ Eduard Folayang, who defeated him in their first encounter. Aoki managed to even the score in the rematch, and there’s not really any way to gauge how things will go this time around.
Finally, Colbey Northcutt (sister of Sage, 3-1 amateur, 1-1 pro) returns to action since her first pro win in 2019 against Australia’s Courtney Martin (8-1 amateur). Martin will be making her professional debut.
Full fight card is as follows:
Aung La N Sang vs Reiner de Ridder - Light heavyweight title fight
Eddie Alvarez vs Rae Yoon Ok - 155lbs bout
Oumar “Reug Reug“ Kane vs Kirill Grishenko - Heavyweight bout
Shinya Aoki vs Eduard Folayang - 170lb bout
Jackie Bunan vs Ekaterina Vanderyeva - 125 Muay Thai bout
Colbey Northcutt vs Courtney Martin - 135lb bout
ONE on TNT IV starts with the prelims at 8:30pm EST on Bleacher Report Live and YouTube, then the main card at 10:00pm EST on TNT.