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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