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Everything you need to know about the ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix

We break down the massive tournament before the semifinal round goes down at ONE 161 on September 29.
roman-kryklia

There's only one word that's fitting to describe the two co-main event matchups that will usher in the headliner at "ONE 161: Petchmorakot vs. Tawanchai" – and that word is "massive."

On Thursday, September 29, four of the biggest strikers on the planet will face off in the ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix semifinals.

The following night in U.S. primetime, two additional kickboxing stars will meet in a world grand prix alternate bout to kick off the lead card of "ONE on Prime Video 2: Xiong vs. Lee III."

Each of their motivations might be different, but every competitor desperately wants to reach the tournament final and claim the prestigious silver belt.

Before the action begins at the Singapore Indoor Stadium later this month, we break down everything you need to know about ONE's largest world grand prix to date.

The two semifinal clashes at ONE 161

On September 29 in Asia primetime (U.S. morning), four men will compete in a pair of semifinal bouts to see who advances to the world grand prix championship final.

In the first matchup, Iraj Azizpour makes his third appearance in the ONE circle against promotional newcomer Bruno Chaves.

Since debuting in ONE last October, Azizpour has scored back-to-back wins over Anderson "Braddock" Silva and Ismael Londt, making him an exciting name to watch in the division.

Moreover, with a 67-4 combined striking record, the cheerful Iranian will be quite the hurdle for Chaves, who enters this contest with only a third of the career experience.

However, at 6-foot-6, Chaves will own the height advantage – and he knows how to use it. Of his 19 muay Thai fights, he's won all but one using his clobbering punches and step-in knees.

In the second semifinal bout, two larger-than-life figures will go to war, as reigning ONE light heavyweight kickboxing world champion Roman Kryklia meets Brazilian legend Guto Inocente.

Kryklia successfully defends the ONE light heavyweight kickboxing world championship against Murat Aygun at "ONE: Full Circle."

Kryklia – who's won 11 straight fights overall – might be moving up in weight for this world grand prix, but he's far from the smallest competitor.

Standing 6-foot-7 and boasting a wingspan that surpasses his height by 4 inches, the towering Ukrainian will be a menace for Inocente.

In fact, he's been a problem for every opponent in ONE so far. The 30-year-old knocked out Tarik Khbabez to earn the light heavyweight kickboxing gold and has defended it twice against Andrei Stoica and then Murat Aygun this past February.

Meanwhile, Inocente burst onto the scene the same night Kryklia finished Aygun, making an impressive entrance by scorching Bruno Susano with a second-round KO.

And this past June, he added Serbian destroyer and grand prix alternate Rade Opacic's name to his list of victims.

The alternate bout at ONE on Prime Video 2

Opacic and Giannis Stoforidis will compete in a ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix alternate bout on September 30 in U.S. primetime.

Whoever emerges victorious will be invited to join the main bracket if either of the finalists is forced to withdraw for any reason, and as we've recently seen with the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix, this could happen.

So, there will be plenty of motivation for each competitor to get their hand raised – not that they were lacking it in the first place.

Besides his blemish to Inocente, Opacic has scored four finishes in ONE against top competition.

Stoforidis, on the other hand, will be looking to bounce back from a light heavyweight kickboxing loss to Andrei Stoica and prove he can hang with the big boys.

The world grand prix rules

The six men who will battle in the ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix semifinals and the alternate bout will compete under ONE's global kickboxing rule set.

Each fight will include a trio of three-minute rounds – unless it ends earlier – with the athletes getting a one-minute break in between.

A competitor could win by KO, TKO (three knockdowns in a round or four knockdowns overall), or a decision. And as usual, no draws are allowed.

Points are decided based on the following criteria and in this order of importance: knockdowns, external and internal damage, number of clean strikes landed, aggression, and ONE circle generalship.

The semifinal winners will advance to face each other in the ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix championship final, which will be scheduled for a later date, and the winner of the tournament finale will score the ultimate prize – the world grand prix silver belt.

This story first published at ONEFC.com.