It was a historic night for ONE Championship. On Friday Night, 26 May, heroes were celebrated and legacies were cemented at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES.
Held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the event featured a pair of main event title bouts between four undefeated warriors, a main card packed with future contenders, and a Grappling Super-Match involving two of the world’s best jiu-jitsu aces.
ONE World Champions Angela Lee and Ben Askren retained their belts and perfect records, Garry Tonon submitted a former champion, and there were several highlight reel finishes. The Singaporean athletes on the card also made their country proud, scoring a clean sweep in competition.
With so much noteworthy action, it is difficult to narrow it all down, but here are the top four highlights from ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES.
#1 Angela Lee’s Relentless Match-Ending Anaconda Choke
ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee has taken her overall martial arts game to a whole new level. She displayed a new striking finesse against Jenny Huang two months ago at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM, and this past weekend, she beautifully used her clinch fighting and ever-evolving grappling prowess to overwhelm Istela Nunes.
The Singaporean always seemed to be in control of the action, and constantly threatened the challenger with submission attempts — including a twister — and ground and pound. But in the end, it was a tight anaconda choke that did that Brazilian in. Making this feat even more remarkable is the fact that Lee had been battling pneumonia in the weeks leading up to the show.
Right now, it seems like nothing can stop “Unstoppable” — not sickness, not a pair of undefeated opponents, and certainly not a quick turnaround.
#2 Garry Tonon Catching Shinya Aoki With His Famed Heel Hook
Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon has been one of the West’s most heralded jiu-jitsu practitioners in recent memory. This past weekend, worlds truly collided when he rolled with Japan’s Shinya Aoki in the first ever Grappling Super-Match in ONE history. Needless to say, the physical chess match between these two mat wizards did not disappoint.
At first, it appeared as if the former ONE Lightweight World Champion had the edge against his American counterpart. Aoki was more relentless, brought Tonon to the ground fairly quickly, and even used the cage to his advantage – something the BJJ-based Tonon was unfamiliar with.
However, in a flash, Tonon had used his opponent’s own momentum against him after a takedown, slickly rolled under Aoki, clasped his leg, and sunk in one of his infamous heel hooks to get the tap. Despite being aware that Tonon was almost certain to go for that move, Aoki was powerless to stop it. “The Lion Killer” introduced himself to the global stage in impressive fashion, and along with Aoki, masterfully displayed the beauty of the gentle art.
#3 Zebaztian Kadestam’s Come-From-Behind KO
Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam did not have an easy task ahead of him. The Muay Thai specialist accepted an offer to compete on two weeks’ notice against former title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos, a hard-hitting, hulking phenom with black belts in judo and jiu-jitsu.
As they say, anything can happen in a bout, and something did. In a matter of seconds, the Swede transformed his narrative from underdog to possible contender. After Brazil’s Santos controlled the first two rounds with powerful striking and picture-perfect takedowns, his power waned dramatically. “The Bandit” saw his opening in the third frame, stuffed a weak takedown attempt, and kneed his way to the upset of the year and into title contention.
#4 Rika Ishige’s Star Showmanship
Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige seems to be following in the footsteps of her partner, Shannon Wiratchai. The Thai atomweight prospect served up yet another memorable entrance by dressing as Street Fighter’s Chun Li, and walked to the cage with Wiratchai, under the guise of Ryu, by her side. The atomweight had previously made her ONE Championship debut dressed as Gokai Pink of the Gokaigers, a Japanese live-action series that the Power Rangers are based off of.
Just like Chun Li, Ishige proved to be heroic once the action kicked off. After being momentarily stunned by her debuting opponent, Indonesia’s Nita Dea, “Tinydoll” was able to bring the contest to the ground, and constantly threatened with a slew of submission attempts. Following a series of failed armbars that seemingly had the match sewn up, it was the rear-naked choke that won her the bout.
Ishige is providing entertainment both inside the cage and outside of it, too. That, along with her charming disposition, could easily make her the next big star for women’s martial arts in Asia.