After what feels like an eternity, ONE Championship is back with a numbered event, their first since ONE 164 in Dec. 2022.
After hosting a majority of events in 2023 on Amazon Prime Video, ONE 165 will be back to pay-per-view format on the company website. The promotion will also return to Japan for the first time since 2019.
With no UFC event on Jan. 27, ONE owns the biggest MMA event of the weekend. However, the 3 a.m. ET start time on Jan. 28 may hinder fans from North America, but the abundance of fascinating style matchups can give us a chance to wake up to a winner.
Of the seven-fight pay-per-view main card, we will be focusing on the following matchups:
- Superlek Kiatmoo9 (-170) vs. Takeru Segawa (+142)
- Kade Ruotolo (-470) vs. Tommy Langaker (+360)
- Sage Northcutt (-345) vs. Shinya Aoki (275)
- Itsuki Hirata (-225) vs. Ayaka Miura (+185)
View my full list of picks and best bet record here.
ONE 165 best bets
Takeru Segawa ML (+142)
Without a doubt, Superlek has looked incredible over the past two years, culminating with an exciting win over the beloved Rodtang Jitmuangnon to extend his win streak to 10. But the win over Rodtang — along with Takeru somehow flying under the radar in the eyes of combat sports fans — have led the line to slightly overvalue the ONE flyweight kickboxing champion.
If kickboxing was as popular globally as MMA, Takeru would be a superstar. His fight style is entertaining for fans and for the better part of a decade was ranked as a top five pound-for-pound kickboxer in the world by multiple sites.
During the peak of his time at K-1 from 2019-2022, Takeru was the top-ranked pound-for-pound kickboxer by Combat Press before losing to Tenshin Nasukawa. For those who are unaware, Nasukawa had a career 44-0 record before retiring and transitioning to boxing and is still widely considered one of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen.
After losing to Nasukawa, Takeru took time away from the sport to heal from injuries but returned in 2023 with a highlight-reel head-kick knockout of K-1 champion Bailey Sugden. Any thoughts of ring rust or Takeru's decline were quickly put to rest.
Entering this fight, Takeru is attempting to accomplish one of the few achievements he has not already obtained in his illustrious career. At 32, he appears to still be highly motivated. Takeru is the only three-division champion in K-1 history, one of the most respected promotions in kickboxing history.
Despite Superlek's recent success, it is easy to forget his up-and-down career before his recent win streak and there is little he can provide that Takeru has not already seen. I have a hard time seeing Superlek as the favorite and certainly not near -200.
Parlay: Kade Ruotolo, Sage Northcutt, Itsuki Hirata (+125)
With the way these matchups have been made, ONE appears to see this card as a marketing opportunity to create new stars in their promotion. Ruotolo and Northcutt are already two of their biggest names amongst the American audience and Hirata is on the rise as a star herself.
Ruotolo is rematching Tommy Langaker a 2023 bout that ONE awarded as their best grappling match of the year. Despite ONE promoting the rematch as a competitive rivalry, Langaker only had one true moment that threatened Ruotolo's championship in the original bout.
For UFC fans, think of Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega, as Ortega's fourth-round success created the illusion that the entire fight was close. While the submission attempt was tight, Ruotolo defended it well and was in control for most of the contest in the top position. With less than a year in between the two matches, there is nothing suggesting anything should change and I expect an even more dominant showing from the champion.
Northcutt is less of a finished product than Ruotolo but this matchup is a classic set-up. Shinya Aoki is the bigger name and will be the fan favorite in Japan but this fight is entirely Northcutt's to lose. Northcutt will be making his lightweight debut but will have a massive physical and athletic advantage over the 40-year-old Aoki should he have a successful weight cut.
Aside from Aoki's age, the Japanese star has not even competed in MMA since 2022 and has not won a fight since 2021. Even then, his last win came against Edward Folayang, who matched his age at 38 at the time of the fight. Northcutt is still just 27. Aoki provides nearly zero threat on the feet at this stage in his career and looked slow and old in his last grappling match with Mikey Musimeci.
Despite being the least-known name of the three in our parlay, ONE knows what they have with Hirata. The atomweight has already amassed over 300 thousand followers on Instagram in just eight fights and is coming off of a de facto title eliminator loss to Seo Hee Ham. Against Ayaka Miura on Jan. 28, Hirata is getting a tune-up fight to get her back on track.
At 33, Miura has never found consistent success in her career and is just 2-3 in her last five fights. Miura is an accomplished grappler as the two wins she did receive in that span came from the hardly-seen scarf hold position.
Regardless, Hirata has a significant speed advantage and will be a predator in striking exchanges with three of Miura's six career losses coming by TKO. The only two losses in Hirata's career have come against two fighters ranked in the top five at atomweight in ONE, making Miura a significant step back. With a win, Hirata could be the next opponent of champion Stamp Fairtex and ONE wants her in their title picture.
In favorable matchups, all three budding stars for ONE should flourish in the spotlight and give us a sweat-free winner.
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change