Guide to the ONE Championship Flyweight Grand Prix
The full lineup for the ONE Championship Flyweight Grand Prix was released this week and the tournament looks to be very open. While Demetrious Johnson remains the hot favourite there is very little to choose between the other seven quarter finalists.
The matchups will all take place at ONE: ‘A New Era’ which means we will get to run the rule over the entire field over the course of a single night. By contrast the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix quarter finals have been spread out over three separate shows.
Here is the full line up for the tournament which gets underway on March 31st:
The name ‘Ivanildo Delfino’ would not have been on the lips of many fans in Asia before this week. But the Brazilian, who could meet Johnson in the semi final, holds a perfect professional record and has beaten some high level opponents.
Given how competitive the scene in Brazil is winning a Jungle Fight title is not an achievement to be taken lightly. That’s exactly what Delfino (8-0) did in his last fight capturing the interim flyweight belt, and he could be a dark horse in this tournament.
Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1), who faces Yuka Wakamatsu in the quarter final, needs no introduction. Whether or not he is the greatest fighter of all time is a matter of personal preference, but there is no question whatsoever that he is the best flyweight in MMA history.
‘D.J.’ made 11 consecutive title defences in the UFC, which remains a record, and at 32 he is still very much in his prime. This tournament represents the perfect platform for him to re-establish his credentials as the best in the world after a split decision defeat to Henry Cejudo, and it would be a surprise if he didn’t make the most of that opportunity.
Champions and challengers
On the opposite side of the bracket to Johnson and Delfino are four fighters who have all either held or challenged for ONE Championship titles. Kairat Akhmetov (25-2) held the flyweight belt from 2015-2017 and faces former bantamweight title challenger Reece McLaren (12-5).
Danny Kingad (11-1) has challenged unsuccessfully for the flyweight belt and he has been matched with Andrew Leone (8-4) who, like McLaren, came up short against Bibiano Fernandes in a bantamweight title fight.
Many of the fighters have faced each other before. Kingad has beaten Wada and Wakamatsu while McLaren has a win over Wada. Kingad and McLaren have both lost to reigning champion Moraes too.
Meanwhile Akhmetov is 1-1 in fights with Moraes. Johnson and Delfino both make their promotional debuts but Akhmetov and Leone both hold wins over recently deposed champion Geje Eustaquio, although the former was beaten in a rematch.
Wakamatsu (10-3) and Wada (20-10-2) are both coming off losses to Kingad. The former is 0-1 in his ONE Championship career while the latter is 1-2 and they have both been handed tough matchups in Tokyo.
The other side of the draw contains no Japanese fighters. Will either Wakamatsu or Wada pull off the upset win in front of their home fans in Tokyo? Or will we see both Japanese flyweights fall at the first hurdle?