Former ONE Strawweight MMA World Champion Yosuke Saruta is set to make a highly anticipated comeback to the cage at ONE Fight Night 19 on Prime Video on February 16. The Japanese powerhouse will take on #5 contender Mansur Malachiev in what promises to be a thrilling showdown at the renowned Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. This pivotal fight is crucial for Saruta as he seeks to regain his momentum and demonstrate his status among the division's elite.
Saruta burst onto the ONE Championship scene with a remarkable victory over former divisional king Alex Silva in December 2018. He continued his impressive streak by upsetting Joshua Pacio in January 2019, capturing the ONE Strawweight MMA World Title. However, his reign was short-lived as Pacio reclaimed the belt with a knockout in a rematch just three months later. The rivalry culminated in September 2021, with Pacio securing another knockout win, leaving Saruta with a bitter taste of defeat.
Despite a spirited effort against Gustavo Balart in April 2022, Saruta suffered a unanimous decision loss, leading to a period of absence from the spotlight. This raised questions among fans about his ability to recapture his former glory.
Now, Saruta has a chance for redemption against Malachiev at ONE Fight Night 19. However, his path to victory is challenging, facing off against a formidable opponent in Malachiev.
Malachiev made a strong impression on the global stage by swiftly defeating Jeremy Miado by submission in June 2023. He then faced Pacio, taking the fight to a decision where Pacio narrowly secured a unanimous decision victory.
For Malachiev, this bout against Yosuke Saruta carries significant weight. With recent developments in the division, a win over Saruta is crucial to solidify his position as the #5 contender among the top fighters. Conversely, a loss could see Malachiev slipping in the rankings and losing ground in the fiercely competitive strawweight division.