Former K-1 Champion Rukiya Anpo in Talks With ONE Championship - “There Is a Possibility That I Can Fight in ONE Even if I Don’t Sign a Long-Term Contract”

Jun 24, 2024
Rukiya Anpo in his newest YouTube video.
ONE Championship looks to sign another high-profile Japanese striker.

Former K-1 Super Lightweight (-65 kg) champion Rukiya Anpo has revealed that he's in talks with ONE Championship. The prolific kickboxer has recently made waves on social media, after meeting up with former UFC Middleweight champion Sean Strickland to spar with him.

As expected, Anpo was not shy to throw down with the 40-odd-pound heavier fighter, suffering multiple noticeable bruises on his face. 

In a YouTube video released today, Anpo talked about his experience fighting Strickland, "I haven't felt that in a long time. As you can see it has been 2 days and the wounds on my face are still like this. It hurts and is still swollen… of course, I am good at offense, but I'm more confident in my defense. After I was trained in boxing by Nakao-sensei for 12 fights, I was not downed by a punch even once. Only Noiri's left middle kick took me down. What I want to say is, I have confidence in my defense. I was not knocked down, but I was beaten up. My lip was cut up. My nose was not broken, but swollen. He was strong. He was really strong."

More surprisingly, Anpo also revealed that he's eyeing ONE Championship. Since his split with K-1 in 2022, Rukiya has been a RIZIN mainstay, dipping his toes into MMA and taking freak-show fights against heavier opponents in Mikuru Asakura's promotion, Breaking Down.

Photo: Breaking Down

Most recently he edged out a win against former Sumo fighter and RIZIN Heavyweight, Tsuyoshi Sudario. While RIZIN certainly has ample opportunities for fun fights, Anpo looks to get back into the deep end of high-level competition.

"Right now I have been having talks with ONE. I can't talk about the details of a [potential] contract, but there is a possibility that I can fight in ONE even if I don't sign a long-term agreement. Personally, I don't like being exclusive because I want to be free. To be honest, I was not free when I was with K-1."

Since ONE inked a deal with Japanese streaming service U-Next, the promotion has noticeably bolstered the number of Japanese fighters on Friday Fight cards, as well as making big acquisitions such as Masaaki Noiri

It's been quiet around the Featherweight Grand Prix that is supposed to go down this year, but Anpo would be another quality addition alongside Chingiz Allazov, Marat Grigorian, Sitthichai, and Superbon


For better or worse, ONE Championship has been known for its restrictive multi-year contracts, which have prohibited fighters from competing elsewhere. With the introduction of ONE Lumpinee, many kickboxers and MMA fighters weren't as busy as they wanted to be, and both fans and media noticed.

Interestingly, ONE seems to have become more lenient with athletes competing outside the promotion as of late. Senshi has been the top destination for a lot of ONE's big boys such Rade Opacic, Iraj Azizpour, and Giannis Stoforidis

Martine Michieletto, who was previously denied to compete outside ONE, recently also announced a fight back on home-soil, as she takes on Eva Guillot at OKTAGON TSUNAMI. A shift away from exclusive contracts? Perhaps.