How Evolve MMA Turned Hiroki Akimoto Into A More Powerful, Technical Fighter

How Evolve MMA Turned Hiroki Akimoto Into A More Powerful, Technical Fighter

ONE Championship - October 15, 2020

In 2018, WFKO Karate World Champion Hiroki Akimoto moved to Singapore to level up his kickboxing game at Evolve MMA. Two years later, he’s still going strong at the famed gym.

The Japanese athlete will showcase everything he’s learned at Evolve when he takes on “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong in the main event of ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II, which was previously recorded in Singapore and will air this Friday, 16 October.

While Akimoto first joined Evolve to focus on his specialty, he wound up training in other striking arts as well.

“Since I moved to Singapore, I have trained kickboxing while learning Muay Thai,” he said.

And Akimoto’s learning experience didn’t stop with “the art of eight limbs.” When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Singapore to temporarily halt all sporting events, the man from Japan had nothing to train for.

Instead of lying around in wait, he chose to mingle with Evolve’s mixed martial artists, which taught him a few valuable tactics.

“I learned some moves which don’t exist in kickboxing, karate, or Muay Thai,“ Akimoto said.

“I think [kicks in mixed martial arts] are completely different in the way of moving the legs and the way they connect with other tricks. I understand the mechanism and try to take what I can use.”

At the same time, Akimoto has been developing his physique. After he sustained a hand injury in his last bout at flyweight, he used his time off to build muscle and move up to bantamweight.

Looking back, he believes his growth is reflective of his training environment.

“Getting used to life here, my body and my technics are evolved, just like the name of the gym,” Akimoto said.

Against the #3-ranked Zhang on Friday night, the Japanese fighter will aim to showcase his improvements in the ONE Circle and further his case for a spot in ONE’s bantamweight kickboxing rankings.

“I built up my body firmly and gained power,” Akimoto said. “So of course, I have my sights set on knocking him down to win by KO.”

Catch Akimoto and Zhang in the main event when ONE Championship returns with the previously recorded ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II this Friday, 16 October.

You can watch the full event on the ONE Super App or on meWATCH at 8:30 p.m. Singapore Standard Time (SGT). Also, Channel 5 will air the ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II on a same-day delay at 10 p.m. SGT.

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ONE Championship

ONE Championship is the largest sports media property in Asian history. Headquartered in Singapore, the world’s most exciting mixed martial arts organization hosts the largest sports entertainment events across Asia featuring the best Asian mixed martial artists and world champions, all signed to exclusive contracts, on the largest media broadcast in Asia. ONE Championship is broadcast to over 1 billion viewers across 118+ countries around the world with some of the largest global broadcasters, including FOX Sports, Setanta, MNC, Astro, Thairath TV, ABS-CBN, TV5, MYTV, HTV, OSN and more.