Michelle Nicolini (4-1) will step back into the ONE Championship cage on March 9 when she faces Iryna Kyselova (11-2) in a strawweight contest.
Nicolini, who is an ADCC champion and an eight-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion has been one of the most feared athletes in ONE Championship’s strawweight division since she made her debut with the organization in November 2016. Her return to the cage is especially significant considering that Xiong Jing Nan recently captured the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight Championship in January.
At the beginning of the year, we discussed how the competition to claim and hold the ONE Women’s Strawweight Championship was going to be a fascinating story to watch in 2018. With May Ooi’s impressive debut in the strawweight division and the return of Michelle Nicolini, Xiong Jing Nan might be requested to defend her title sooner rather than later.
Waiting for her chance
When the contest between Xiong Jing Nan vs. Tiffany Teo was announced as a championship bout, Michelle Nicolini expressed on social media that she is waiting for her chance.
In many ways, it was a little strange that Xiong Jing Nan had jumped the line and earned a shot at the strawweight title before Nicolini was offered the same opportunity. Xiong made her debut with ONE Championship in December 2017 and then challenged for the title just one month later. On the other hand, Nicolini has been with the organization for 14 months and has scored two impressive first-round victories.
But sometimes, that’s just the way that this game works. All Nicolini can do now is go out there and put on another dominant performance before really cementing her position as one of the divisions best.
A Ukranian in the way
Nicolini’s path to the ONE Women’s Strawweight Championship now has a hurdle in the way by the name of Iryna Kyselova.
Kyselova, who is a 22-year-old from Ukraine, will be stepping into the ONE Championship cage for the very first time at ONE: Visions of Victory. A proven finisher, Kyselova has racked up nine finishes in her ten victories to date.
Much like Nicolini, Kyselova is much more comfortable when the fight takes place on the ground. It remains to be seen whether Kyselova will entertain the option of grappling with the accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu veteran.
Michelle Nicolini vs. Iryna Kyselova is a scheduled women’s strawweight bout at ONE: Visions of Victory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 9.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.