ONE Championship has three tournaments running concurrently this year. Injury has struck for the first time in the Lightweight Grand Prix with Ariel Sexton pulling out of his semi final bout next month.
Sexton took to Instagram to break the bad news:
View this post on Instagram
It is with great disappointment I have to announce I will no longer be able to fight May 17th due to injury . The hurt business is real , one minute your preparing for this amazing opportunity that i worked so many years for and next your path can change completely unexpected . I only pray I can stay in the GP cuz I was so very close to my dream ??? . Now I’ll wait to see how my bout get rescheduled ??☺️
The Costa Rican doesn’t sound confident that he will be able to continue in the tournament. He booked his semi final berth by submitting Amir Khan and was scheduled to fight Saygid Arslanaliev at ONE: ‘Enter the Dragon’.
That bout is off and it will be interesting to see whether ONE Championship decide to replace Sexton immediately or give him time to recover from the undisclosed injury.
One factor in the Costa Rican’s favour is that this is the first semi final and the second is not currently on the schedule. So if the injury is not too serious he should get a second chance.
Arslanaliev is arguably the tournament favourite now that Eddie Alvarez is out. However undefeated Hawaiian Lowen Tynanes is also tipped to do well and he faces Timofey Nastyukhin in the other semi final.
According to MMA journalist Tom Taylor the plan is for all three tournaments to conclude at ONE: ‘Century’ this October:
One thing Chatri told me that I think fans will find exciting: the tentative plan is for the finals of the ONE Flyweight GP, Lightweight GP, and FW Kickboxing GP to occur at ONE's 100th show (Oct 13 in Tokyo). Says this will be the biggest card ONE has ever done by a big margin.
— Tom Taylor (@TomTayMMA) April 24, 2019
So while Sexton’s fight with Arslanaliev might be the first to fall through it probably won’t be the last. With ten bouts to go before the six finalists are decided ONE Championship will need a little bit of luck if all three tournaments are to conclude on the same date.