ONE Championship just held its most historic event in promotional history, and it was certainly a night full of drama.
Last Friday, 18 May, the promotion brought its latest spectacle ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS to the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and for the first time ever, three world titles were up for grabs in a single evening.
Also, the event marked the return of former ONE Lightweight World Champions Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Shinya Aoki, the ONE debuts of many Muay Thai legends, and even the appearance of a pair of Olympic gold medal-winning swimmers in Michael Phelps and Joseph Schooling.
Here are just five of the many spectacular highlights of the night.
A Fitting And Phenomenal Main Event
Now, two years later, the rematch has finally taken place, and it was just as filled with drama as their first encounter.
Lee, the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion, flawlessly displayed her growing striking skills, and even pulled off a pair of near-submissions – a tight armbar in the second frame and a third-round rear-naked choke that was saved by the bell.
Yamaguchi, however, flipped the script in the championships rounds. She showed no signs of exhaustion like she did the last time. She landing some powerful, clean strikes, and connected with a massive takedown in the final frame.
However, it was ultimately the same result as the last time: Lee won via unanimous decision in the pair’s second five-round classic.
Sam-A Gaiyanghadao Winning ONE Super Series Gold
Sam-A Gaiyanghadao wanted to make history, and he accomplished that goal on Friday.
The Thai defeated a very game Sergio “Samurai” Wielzen to become the inaugural ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Champion, and the first-ever titleholder in ONE Super Series.
Just like in a classic Muay Thai bout, the intensity picked up in the later rounds, and reached a climax in the fourth. Sam-A kept measuring Wielzen up with his lightning-quick left roundhouse kicks, dumped him a few times in the clinch, and even dropped him with a left elbow.
The end followed, where Sam-A battered the Dutch-Surinamese athlete with more left roundhouse kicks, and then caught a crushing combination of standing elbows to get the knockout.
The Power Of Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex
Two-time multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Yodsanklai “The Hero” IWE Fairtex proved to be as dominant as ever in his ONE Super Series debut.
Every strike Yodsanklai threw at Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi was filled with knockout power. The Thai chipped away at Ngimbi with heavy roundhouse kicks, fists, and high knees, which at times stopped the Congolese-Dutch striker in his tracks.
Ngimbi was not afraid to engage, however, and even had his rival on the back foot at one point. But the Thai masterfully checked, leaned back, and evaded his opponent’s kicks. And then, he turned up the aggression on his tiring opponent.
Yodsanklai picked up the unanimous decision victory in his ONE debut, and proved his superhuman power and immaculate defense is as dynamic as ever.
Shinya Aoki’s Grappling Mastery
Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki started his road back to the ONE Lightweight World Championship on a high note.
The 35-year-old Japanese icon leaned on his world-class grappling to make short work of Chechen jiu-jitsu and combat sambo champion Rasul Yakhyaev.
Aoki immediately went for the takedown, but when the Russian reversed him against the cage, he took matters into his own hands.
Living up to his moniker, “Tobikan Judan” went for a flying armbar, transitioned into an omoplata, and then scrambled to top position.
From there, he methodically worked his way up to a more dominant position, secured a mounted triangle, rolled over to tighten the hold, and soon got the tap.
It was an aggressive display of grappling from Aoki, who looks as committed as ever to reclaim the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Singtongnoi Por Telakun Captivates Singapore
A new chapter in the inspirational story of Muay Thai legend Singtongnoi Por Telakun was written on Friday at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
Singtongnoi, a stage three cancer survivor who competed for the first time since retiring as one of the greatest Muay Thai warriors of all time in 2015, returned to form against Italy’s Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri.
It quickly became clear the Lumpinee Stadium World Champion has not missed a step.
The 37-year-old Thai fearlessly battered Lasiri’s arms and ribs with kicks. He also flashed his boxing, using stiff hands and even elbows to drop the Italian twice in the first round.
Although the “Hurricane” applied pressure early in the second, Singtongnoi maintained his veteran cool. The Thai waited till the final minute of round two to unleash his bout-winning attack, which saw him back up Lasiri with more punches to the head, and kicks to the arms and the ribs.
Singtongnoi’s victory was truly spectacular, but perhaps the most impressive part of his win was the triumph of his warrior spirit.