ONE Championship Inside the Matrix: Preview, Predictions for Four Title Fights

Haris KruskicContributor IOctober 28, 2020

ONE Championship

ONE Championship: Inside the Matrix is set for Friday, and it's the biggest card of the year so far for the Singapore-based promotion, featuring four title bouts among some of their most prominent fighters.

Headlining the event is middleweight world champion Aung La N Sang taking on 12-0 Reinier de Ridder. Sang looks for his sixth successful title defense at ONE since 2018. The co-main event features lightweight world champion Christian Lee defending his belt for the first time against 14-0 Iuri Lapicus.

Preceding the two headliners is featherweight world champion Martin Nguyen facing former The Ultimate Fighter contestant Thanh Le and women's strawweight world champion Xiong Jing Nan rematching Tiffany Teo after their four-round battle nearly three years ago.

      

Where and How to Watch

ONE: Inside the Matrix is at 8:30 a.m. ET. on Friday, Oct. 30.

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Those in the U.S. can watch the event for free on B/R Live and the B/R app.

       

Match Previews and Predictions

Aung La N Sang (26-10) vs. Reinier de Ridder (12-0)

Riding a seven-fight win streak, two-division champion Sang steps into the cage for the first time in over a year after knocking out ONE heavyweight world champion Brandon Vera to defend his light heavyweight belt. Now he drops back down to defend his middleweight world championship for the fourth time.

Meanwhile, the undefeated De Ridder is 3-0 at ONE since joining last year and is coming off a decision win over Leandro Ataides to become the No. 1 contender to Sang's middleweight crown.

De Ridder's prowess as a submission specialist poses a unique challenge to Sang, who is used to the pure striking that the heavier divisions at ONE typically offer. However, De Ridder has yet to face an opponent of Sang's ilk. The 35-year-old champion might just be the pound-for-pound strongest fighter at ONE, and it's tough to imagine De Ridder will have much success taking this fight down to the mat while also avoiding massive punches from Sang.

Look for the champion to get an early finish in this one.

Prediction: Sang wins by KO in Round 2

      

Christian Lee (13-3) vs. Iuri Lapicus (14-0)

After a remarkable 2019 that saw him win the lightweight world championship from Shinya Aoki and the lightweight world grand prix, Christian Lee returns to action to defend his crown for the first time.

He'll go up against undefeated Iuri Lapicus, who is 2-0 at ONE and trains with world champion kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan at his acclaimed gym in Italy. The 25-year-old is coming off a win against former ONE featherweight world champion Marat Gafurov.

Lapicus is another submission specialist and could pose challenges for Lee, who relies more on his striking despite his amateur wrestling background. However, it's tough to imagine that Lee isn't up for the task after defeating Aoki, who has one of the top ground games in the world. This experience should do wonders for Lee's confidence and see him through to his first title defense.

Prediction: Lee wins via unanimous decision

   

Martin Nguyen (13-3) vs. Thanh Le (11-2)

This matchup has Fight of the Night written all over it.

Nguyen, who has successfully defended his featherweight world title three times since winning it in 2018, takes on former TUF Season 22 contestant Thanh Le, who is 3-0 at ONE and earned the finish in each match.

The 31-year-old champion won't be intimidated, though, as he is arguably the flashiest knockout artist at ONE. Just look at this flying knee he pulled off last year.

This should be an intriguing contest between Nguyen's counter striking and Le's evasiveness. The first fighter to make a mistake might just pay the ultimate price. However, Nguyen's experience against some of the top strikers ONE has to offer should prepare him for Le, who is susceptible to counters.

Prediction: Nguyen wins by TKO in Round 3

   

Xiong Jing Nan (14-2) vs. Tiffany Teo (9-1)

Xiong Jing Nan made quite a name for herself in 2019 after two wild fights against Angela Lee. Now she defends her strawweight world title for the fourth time against Tiffany Teo, whom she defeated to earn the belt almost three years ago.

Despite her loss to Lee last October in an attempt to move down a weight class and become a two-division champion, Xiong is 4-0 when competing as a strawweight. Now she'll take on Teo, who continued to show off her grappling prowess the previous two fights against Michelle Nicolini and Ayaka Miura to become the No. 1 contender.

The issue for Teo is she's yet to bolster her striking since fighting Xiong in 2018, a match that the champion largely dominated. What's even more troubling for the Singaporean is Xiong has familiarized herself more with grappling defense by fighting Lee twice and managing to get out of a variety of holds. The writing is on the wall in this one.

Prediction: Xiong wins by TKO in Round 3