Roman Kryklia
ONE light heavyweight champion Roman Kryklia. ONE Championship


  • Roman Kryklia and Francesko Xhaja meet in the main event of ONE Fight Night 12
  • Kryklia stands dominant through five bouts under ONE Championship
  • Xhaja will look to pull off the upset and claim gold for the first time in his career

ONE Championship's light heavyweight kickboxing scene has been dominated by Roman Kryklia for the better part of three years, and it looks to be no different as he defends the division's title on ONE Fight Night 12.

Officials of the Singapore-based combat sports promotion privately confirmed the news to Sports Illustrated and that it is currently set to happen as the show's headliner.

Kryklia's debut under ONE Championship in November 2019 was swift and, while fans did not know it at the time, it earmarked his dominance of the division as he claimed the win and the title by TKO over Tarik Khbabez by knocking him down thrice in the second round.

Aside from a unanimous decision victory over Andrei Stoica in his next defense a little over a year later, Kryklia has never gone beyond the second round in his ONE Championship career.

The Ukrainian monster would go on to have an even bigger 2022 as he knocked out Murat Aygun in February at ONE: Full Circle and quickly followed it up with TKO victories against Guto Inocente in September and Iraj Azizpour two months later–despite a two-year layoff between beating Stoica and knocking out Aygun.

His triumphs over Inocente and Azizpour came as part of the ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing Grand Prix's semifinal and final rounds respectively, further establishing his growing legend.

Come ONE Fight Night 12, Xhaja will look to purge the shadow of Kryklia over the light heavyweight kickboxing division with a strong victory.

After suffering a TKO loss to Rade Opacic in his January 2022 debut, Xhaja bounced back strongly in a hard-fought three-round war with Stoica and came out victorious with a split decision added to his resume.

Kryklia will be the biggest challenge that the 29-year-old Albanian has ever faced in his career and while he may not have as stellar a resume as that of the Ukrainian, the world of combat sports is as unpredictable as ever and a win over him will surely boost Xhaja's stature.

"Smile" has already challenged for a title once in his relatively young 24-fight kickboxing career, but failed to do so as he fell to Inocente in 2019 as part of WGP Kickboxing–something that he will hope to rectify by pulling off the upset on Kryklia.

With Beyond Kick ranking Kryklia and Xhaja as the No. 4 and No. 10-best kickboxers in the world, a terrifying display of power and skill is set to rock the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on July 15 (July 14 in the U.S.) with ONE Fight Night 12.

Francesko Xhaja
Francesko Xhaja (right) throwing a kick during a ONE Championship kickboxing bout. ONE Championship