If knockouts are the quickest way to win a contest, then submissions are without a doubt the most technical.
By their very nature, submissions are designed to put an opponent in a no-win position where they have no other option but to admit defeat, and tap out. Simply put, it is the ultimate form of putting your adversary in checkmate.
It is arguably the most satisfying way to demonstrate your technical superiority over your rival, and in ONE Championship there are several elite submission specialists who have made a name with their world-class skills.
Here are seven of the very best submission wizards in the promotion.
“Unstoppable” Angela Lee
Despite her perfect 8-0 record, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee is still very early into her martial arts career. But the Singaporean dynamo has already demonstrated top-notch finishing skills, which look set to keep her at the top for many years to come.
Six of Lee’s eight wins have come by way of submission, including a rarely-seen twister, a pair of rear-naked chokes, a neck crank, an armbar, and, in her most recent performance, an anaconda choke over Istela Nunes. In fact, those six tap-outs leave her tied for the record of most submissions in ONE history with Adriano Moraes and Marat Gafurov, both listed below.
It is a rematch from their iconic bout for the inaugural title two years ago. Lee anticipates the same result, but this time, she expects to finish her Japanese rival.
Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes
ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes (17-2) is one of the most well-rounded athletes in the entire organization, but his best weapon is undoubtedly his submission arsenal.
Six of the BJJ black belt’s eight wins inside the ONE cage have come via submission, with an array of different techniques used, including the rear-naked, brabo, guillotine, and arm-triangle chokes. As a result, he stands alongside Lee and Gafurov for most submissions in ONE history.
The Brazilian has also proved his submission abilities against notable opposition, including outstanding finishes of Danny Kingad, and current ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Eustaquio.
Moraes may well end up facing the latter later in the year, where he will look to unify the titles once again. There is also a real possibility he may face one of the contenders below first.
Marat “Cobra” Gafurov
Top strikers often have a go-to move that brings them the highest chance of success for a knockout finish. In submission terms, Marat “Cobra” Gafurov (15-1) has something very similar – the rear-naked choke.
Since making his ONE debut with a submission finish of Rob Lisita in October 2014, the Dagestani has won each and every one of his six promotional victories via rear-naked choke. In fact, they have led Gafurov to the distinction of being tied with Angela Lee and Adriano Moraes for the record of most submissions in ONE history.
Often, the submissions come early, but as shown by his fourth-round ONE Featherweight World Title-winning tap of Narantungalag Jadambaa in November 2015, he is more than capable of finishing bouts in the later rounds too.
With 11 of 15 career wins coming by submission, one thing is clear: make sure “Cobra” stays off your back, or else it could be all over in an instant.
Alex “Little Rock” Silva
In a roster packed with world-class martial artists, Alex “Little Rock” Silva (7-1) stands out.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion was edged out in his promotional debut by future ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio in February 2012. Since then, however, he has been perfect inside the cage. He has racked up six consecutive wins, culminating in the ONE Strawweight World Championship last December.
Silva tore through the opposition en route to a world title shot, finishing each and every one of his foes by submission via an assortment of armbars, kneebars, and arm-triangle chokes. Unsurprisingly, Silva owns the second-most submissions in ONE history at five.
After showcasing his striking in a title-winning performance against previously-unbeaten champion Yoshitaka Naito, he has shown he is now a complete threat to every strawweight challenger on the roster.
Christian “The Warrior” Lee
Christian “The Warrior” Lee (9-1) has five knockout stoppages to his name, but it is his four submission victories that are arguably the most impressive aspect of his record.
Lee is only 19 years of age, but he has developed a submission game dangerous enough to tap out high-quality opposition inside the ONE cage.
For instance, he tapped out Keanu Subba with a third-round armbar at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in August 2017. And then, in his most recent performance in February, he claimed an eye-catching choke finish of the veteran Kazunori Yokota. With his “Terminator Guillotine,” he handed the Japanese star only the second submission loss of his 37-bout career.
After already amassing a hugely impressive record, it is going to be fascinating to find out just how high the Singaporean’s ceiling really is. Next time, if Lee has his way, he could be challenging for the ONE Featherweight World Title.
Reece “Lightning” McLaren
Australian sensation Reece “Lightning” McLaren’s dynamic martial arts skill set has his grappling talent at the very heart of it.
The 26-year-old has seven submission wins from his 11 career victories, including three earned under the ONE banner.
McLaren (11-5) kicked off his promotional stint with a third-round rear-naked choke finish of Mark Striegl, and most recently, he has finished both of his last two match-ups by chokes.
Anatpong Bunrad was dispatched via brabo choke in the first round at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD last November, while fellow flyweight contender Gianni Subba was finished via second-round arm-triangle choke at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY.
Now the undisputed number one contender to the world title, he has the possibility of a future match-up against Moraes, or interim titleholder Eustaquio, later this year. Either way, fans will be in for a treat when McLaren steps into the ONE cage next.
Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki
This list would not be complete without a mention of former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki (39-8, 1 NC).
For the past decade, the Japanese martial arts legend has been widely regarded as Asia’s best martial artist because of his relentless grappling expertise and his killer instinct.
Aoki is a black belt judoka and jiu-jitsu specialist who has 24 submission victories to his credit, and though he lost the lightweight world title a year and a half ago, he is still a force to be reckoned with in ONE.
In fact, he most recently submitted Gafurov in the promotion’s second-ever Grappling Super-Match via rear-naked choke, and is ready to get back into the ONE cage for his next challenge.