One on TNT I: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IApril 6, 2021

One on TNT I: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    ONE Championship is setting up shop on TNT this month, starting with the aptly named ONE on TNT I card, which airs this Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

    The card will be topped by a flyweight title fight between champion Adriano Moraes and former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who is widely considered one of the greatest fighters of all time.

    The bout will be Moraes' first since a 2019 decision win over Team Lakay's Geje Eustaquio. Johnson, on the other hand, will look to build on the momentum of a trio of 2019 wins over Yuya Wakamatsu, Tatsumitsu Wada, and Danny Kingad that carried him to victory in the promotion's action-packed Flyweight World Grand Prix. 

    The ONE on TNT I card will be co-headlined by a clash of ONE lightweight contenders, as Moldovan-Italian finisher Iuri Lapicus collides with former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

    This bout will mark Lapicus' opportunity to rebound from a failed lightweight title fight with Christian Lee—his first loss in 14 fights. Alvarez, on the other hand, will look to build on the momentum of a submission win over former ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang and further distance himself from a knockout loss to Timofey Nastyukhin in his promotional debut. The expectation is that if he wins this fight, he'll be in arm's reach of a long-awaited crack at the ONE lightweight title.

    Before either of these anticipated mixed martial arts matchups gets underway, the ONE on TNT I main card will be kicked off by a non-title Muay Thai fight between Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Australia's Danial Williams. 

    Rodtang, the ONE flyweight Muay Thai champion, is regarded as one of the most exciting fighters on the ONE roster and will be looking to improve to 9-0 under its banner. Williams, meanwhile, will be making his promotional debut, replacing Rodtang's originally slated opponent, Jacob Smith, on short notice.

    As always, there's no way to know how this trio of blockbuster fights will shake out until fight night, but B/R has you covered with predictions for all three matchups.

    Here's how we see them going.

Adriano Moraes vs. Demetrious Johnson

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    Tom Taylor: Johnson is going to win this fight, but just like his three previous fights in ONE Championship, it's going to be a challenge.

    Look for the former UFC flyweight champion to struggle early in the face of Moraes' world-class grappling and significant physical advantages, before mounting a decisive momentum swing in the final three rounds. His cardio and versatility will ultimately carry him to victory, just like they have in 30 of his 34 previous fights.

    And new!

    Johnson via unanimous decision

    Scott Harris: When I spoke to Johnson last week, he made sure to praise Moraes' all-around skills, along with his well-known submission acumen. But I think he was just being nice. This might as well be Johnson's belt already. This is just the coronation.

    Johnson via unanimous decision 

Eddie Alvarez vs. Iuri Lapicus

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    Tom Taylor: Eddie Alvarez is one of the best lightweights of all time, but this fight isn't going to go well for him.

    In Moldova's Iuri Lapicus, the former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion will meet a versatile and deadly 25-year-old in the prime of his fighting life. Granted, Lapicus took a licking in his recent failed lightweight title big against Christian Lee, but so does everybody else Lee fights these days.

    Throw in Alvarez's recent knockout losses to Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier and Timofey Nastyukhin—signs that he's not as durable as he once was—and it feels even more likely that he's in for a rough night at the office this Wednesday.

    Lapicus via unanimous decision

    Scott Harris: I'm not quite as intrepid as Tom on this one. I do think Lapicus has a bright future but he's out of his depth against Alvarez, who will have the patience and instincts only experience can provide. Alvarez isn't going to walk into anything. He has the defensive wrestling—including 92 percent takedown defense during his UFC career—to keep himself out of dangerous spots on the ground. I think he'll stick and move on the feet and avoid the big knockout shot. The young buck will just have to wait.

    Alvarez via unanimous decision

Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs. Danial Williams

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    Tom Taylor: If you don't follow Muay Thai, you're probably not familiar with Rodtang. After Wednesday night, you'll wish you had been.

    He is one of the most exciting fighters in combat sports today, and he'll reaffirm that reputation on TNT. Look for this Muay Thai juggernaut to plow forward with looping hooks and the kind of leg kicks that would make Jose Aldo wince. Williams may persevere for a round or two, but he'll ultimately hit the canvas like a felled tree.

    Rodtang is beatable, as evidenced by his recent decision losses in Rajadamnern Stadium fights, but he'll be the picture of dominance in this scrap on TNT.

    Rodtang via KO, Rd. 2

    Scott Harris: I had to get an assist from Tom on this one. The Cliffs Notes version: Williams is a big, big nobody. He's a golf ball set up on a tee for the Muay Thai berserker in Rodtang. These are the potato skins before the steak. That said, welcome to your new favorite kickboxing side show in Rodtang. Look him up online and enjoy the highlights, then enjoy a new one in real time Wednesday.

    Rodtang, KO, Rd. 2