Rivalries: Kwon Won Il

Kwon Won Il has come a long way from strife-ridden childhood to formidable ONE Championship bantamweight contender.

The No. 3-ranked bantamweight in the Chatri Sityodtong-led organization demonstrated a natural gift in taekwondo early on, propelling him from provincial competitions to the national youth tournament. However, Kwon left taekwondo after completing elementary school, citing the lack of a clear path and engaging in conflicts with fellow students. Subsequently, he transferred to another school—a decision that profoundly impacted his mother. Witnessing his mother’s distress put Kwon on a quest for personal development. This decision paved the way for a flourishing career in mixed martial arts.

The 28-year-old will face Shinechagtga Zoltsetseg in a ONE on Prime Video 18 bantamweight showcase this Friday at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. As Kwon prepares for the challenge that lies ahead, a look at some of the rivalries that played pivotal roles in his progression:

Bruno Pucci

Kwon faced Pucci at ONE “Inside the Matrix 4” on Nov. 20, 2020. “Pretty Boy” skillfully defended the two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu no-gi world champion’s grappling advances and thwarted takedown attempts, delivering a powerful finish just two minutes into the first round. Kwon landed a shovel hook flush to the liver and followed up with a barrage of punches, leaving Pucci clearly stunned. The final sequence, a precise left hook-right uppercut combination, ultimately forced referee Mohamad Sulaiman to intervene and stop the contest.

Rui Chen

Kwon engaged in a thrilling bantamweight clash against Chen at ONE “Unbreakable 2.” The matchup unfolded on Jan. 22, 2021, and proved to be a gripping three-round spectacle. Kwon secured victory with a third-round technical knockout, showcasing resilience throughout the action-packed bout. In the first round of the clash, Kwon established center control and initiated offense with precise jabs, eventually shifting the momentum by executing a well-timed double-leg takedown. Chen displayed resilience despite the damage inflicted by Kwon’s ground-and-pound efforts and managed to return to his feet. In the second round, Chen exhibited renewed vigor, landing solid punches. However, Kwon swiftly regained control in the striking department and launched a series of punishing right hands, leaving his opponent visibly outmatched after 10 gripping minutes of action. Despite Chen’s valiant efforts and durability, the South Korean’s relentless assault in the final round, including a punishing left hook to the liver, led to a decisive finish with just 31 seconds left on the clock.

Kevin Belingon

“Pretty Boy” scripted a career-defining moment at ONE “Winter Warriors 2” when he secured a second-round technical knockout victory against the former bantamweight champion In what proved to be a heated contest, the 26-year-old displayed skillful precision and finesse striking skills, landing impactful shots throughout the fight. Kwon also invested heavily in the breadbasket, which proved to be the crucial factor as the fight unfolded. The turning point came in the second frame when Kwon delivered a thudding liver shot, prompting the referee to intervene. Overwhelmed with the emotion of beating a former champion, Kwon passionately called for a shot at the bantamweight title in the post-fight interview.

Mark Abelardo

Following a three-fight winning streak, Kwon succumbed to a knockout loss against reigning bantamweight Fabricio Andrade at ONE 158. The South Korean strived to recover from the setback when he returned to fight against Mark Abelardo at ONE 163 on Nov. 19, 2022. Kwon secured victory with a third-round TKO against Abelardo and put himself back in the win column. With a noticeable height advantage of five inches, the South Korean effectively landed strikes from range. The turning point came when Kwon landed a well-placed knee directly on Abelardo’s temple during a takedown attempt, followed by a series of punches that led the referee to stop the fight.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

* indicates required
Latest News



Renan Ferreira