ONE Championship made history in Guangzhou, China this past weekend.
On Saturday, 7 July, ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS elevated heroes of the martial arts world to a whole new level.
The event saw a flyweight contender reaffirm his place at the top of the division, local Chinese talent shine on the global stage, and some of the most explosive ONE Super Series bouts yet.
Most notably, the occasion marked the crowning of the first-ever female ONE Super Series World Champion, who will undoubtedly inspire women across the globe.
Here are five of the most amazing highlights from an unforgettable night in Guangzhou.
Kai Ting Chuang Makes History
Kai Ting Chuang became a part of history on Saturday night.
The Chinese athlete went toe-to-toe with Yodcherry Sityodtong – a multi-time Muay Thai World Champion – in the main event of ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
Although the 19-year-old Thai was heavily touted going into the contest, “Killer Bee” defeated her after a five-round affair to claim the ONE Super Series Kickboxing Atomweight World Title, and become the first female titleholder in ONE Super Series.
Chuang applied pressure, strategically used her front kicks to cause the Thai to drop her hands, and implemented her boxing expertise to great effect by attacking her opponent with vigorous punching combinations.
It made things difficult for Yodcherry, who struggled to unload her world-class roundhouse kicks, and could only throw a few knees in the clinch before the referee separated the athletes.
“Killer Bee’s” intelligent strategy exploited the Thai’s weaknesses in the kickboxing ruleset through the majority of the bout, and as a result, she left the Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium with the gold thanks to a unanimous decision from the judges
Reece McLaren Solidifies His Contender Status
Reece “Lightning” McLaren has solidified his place as the top contender in the flyweight division.
The Filipino-Australian needed to spoil the promotional debut of two-time DEEP Flyweight Champion Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada, in order to keep his number one spot among the contenders for Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio’s ONE Flyweight World Championship.
He narrowly accomplished this feat after a sensational contest that showcased each competitors’ superb grappling skills.
Wada brought out the best in McLaren throughout the action-packed bout. The Japanese competitor was effective in the clinch, shrugged off many of the Aussie dynamo’s initial takedown attempts, and hit a few of his own.
However, “Lightning” was much more effective with his stand-up and he did what Wada could not on the ground by making transitions to dominant positions and coming close to a submission finish on several occasions. The only thing that saved Wada was his terrific defense.
McLaren won the bout via split decision, and earned the right to challenge for the World Title. Although Wada lost a close contest, he impressed in this high-stakes affair, and is unquestionably another elite addition to an already-stacked weight class.
“Mr. Cool” Knocks Out “The Giant”
Ibrahim“Mr. Cool” El Bouni has a reputation for knocking out his adversaries in the first round. He lived up to that in his ONE Super Series kickboxing debut.
The Amsterdam, Netherlands resident also lived up to his nickname by being a picture of composure against four-time Kickboxing World Champion Andre “The Giant” Meunier in the opening minute of their clash, which was contested at 105 kilograms.
El Bouni weathered the storm from the Australian colossus’ powerful kicks and wild hooks, and waited patiently to drop Meunier with a massive straight right as he charged forward. He finished his dazed opponent moments later with a few more power punches.
It was a highly impressive debut for “Mr. Cool,” who set the record for the fastest victory in ONE Super Series at 91 seconds – the only first-round knockout since the superstar striking contests launched in April.
Saemapetch Fairtex’s Masterful Debut
Saemapetch Fairtex is the latest Muay Thai superstar to make an explosive impact in ONE Super Series.
He was terrific in his promotional debut on Saturday night, as he outstruck Lithuania’s Deividas Danyla throughout their three-round bantamweight clash.
The 23-year-old southpaw, who is an MTGP Welterweight World Champion, masterfully operated on the back foot, and thoroughly battered Danyla with a stiff jab, hooks to the body, and most of all, his ferocious body kicks.
The Thai also nearly ended his rival’s night in the first round when a powerful left cross, followed by an unstoppable elbow, dropped the 26-year-old.
Danyla, however, proved to be durable, and never backed down. “The Savage Sitsongpeenong” constantly pushed forward and attacked the Fairtex representative, but could never truly connect with significant strikes. The Thai’s defensive game was simply too good, and he emerged with the unanimous decision after three rounds.
Saemapetch could not have hoped for a better debut. He showed immense skill, impeccable defense, and incredible timing against an opponent who maintained a contentious pace for nine minutes.
Robin Catalan’s Fantastic Heel Hook
It is not often fans get to see a leg lock submission end a mixed martial arts bout.
However, Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan used one – and a heel hook, at that – to defeat rising strawweight contender Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis in the first bout of ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
The Filipino Muay Thai World Champion leaned on his wrestling to bring the striking-savvy Mattheis to the mat, where he dropped ground strikes and advanced position to look for an early end to the contest.
Midway through the second frame, Catalan found the finish he was fishing for.
“The Ilonggo” grabbed the Indonesian’s left leg, dropped backward, and then brilliantly locked his right leg over his opponent’s hip. He then secured Mattheis’ heel and torqued the knee to force the tap.
It was a memorable first stoppage victory in ONE Championship for Catalan, for he showed off his ever-evolving ground game with an impressive submission.