There are some incredibly talented grapplers in ONE Championship, and each time they take to the cage, they seldom fail to put on a show.
This past quarter of 2017 has produced some of the year’s most exciting finishes. Having recently celebrated the most sensational knockouts, we now turn out attention to the five finest examples of mat mastery.
#1 Angela Lee Submits Istela Nunes Against All Odds At ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES
When ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee took on undefeated two-time Muay Thai world champion Istela Nunes in Singapore, the bout was expected to be the toughest test of Lee’s young career. Little did anyone know, it would turn out to be more difficult than anyone could have imagined.
In the first round of their five-round title bout, Lee stormed out of the gates, and though Nunes had her moments in striking exchanges, things soon hit the ground. There, Nunes was in Lee’s world. The reigning champion threatened with a variety of submissions from dominant positions, even coming close to pulling off another twister to close the round.
It was the same story in the second stanza, and it was apparent Lee was set on finishing things early. She maintained her breakneck pace, and soon had Nunes in an anaconda choke. After working on it repeatedly, “Unstoppable” finally succeeded in tapping the Brazilian to retain her title and remain undefeated.
However, it was revealed after the bout why Lee was so keen to earn an early stoppage. She had no choice, as she was battling a bout of pneumonia that would have left her drained in the later rounds. The amount of warrior spirit she showed was simply incredible, and cemented her status as the best female martial artist in the world.
#2 Ben Askren’ Chokes Out Agilan Thani At ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES
When Agilan Thani earned a title shot against the legendary Ben Askren, a lot of the Malaysian’s fans were hoping for an upset. But as things quickly unfolded, it was evident that Askren was on a completely different level.
Askren, a NCAA Division I All-American and Olympic wrester, is a collegiate legend in the sport, and one of the finest martial artists today. He doesn’t have the best striking in the world, but he knows he doesn’t need it – all he has to do is defend against strikes and wrestle. Being the best in the world at that, it has always proven to be enough.
“Funky” wasted no time in taking Thani down to the canvas, dumping the youngster with ease. Although Thani was able to make it back up to his feet, much to the American’s surprise, “The Alligator” was taken back down immediately. That’s when Askren locked in the bout-ending arm triangle choke that forced the tap.
#3 Michelle Nicolini’s Armbar Of Irina Mazepa At ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY
35-year-old eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and IBJJF Hall of Famer Michelle Nicolini is perhaps the most dangerous female submission artist in the world today. Her grappling accolades are simply incredible, and when she finally debuted in ONE Championship, much was expected of her ground game. She certainly did not disappoint.
In Manila this past April, Nicolini continued her dominance, submitting the tough Irina Mazepa in just one round. Mazepa, who had previously gave top-tier warriors Ann Osman and Ana Julaton loads of trouble, was in for a complete shock facing a grappler of Nicolini’s caliber.
The Russian wushu world champion couldn’t get her combinations off like in the past, and was left at Nicolini’s mercy throughout the contest. The end came swiftly near the two-minute mark, when Nicolini finished Mazepa off with an armbar.
#4 Mei Yamaguchi’s RNC Of Lady Gogo At ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION
Japanese veteran champion Mei Yamaguchi is known as one of the most well-rounded, highly-skilled females in all of Asia. She has faced some of the region’s biggest names, emerging victorious on numerous occasions.
When she joined ONE Championship in 2016, however, Yamaguchi was met with two disappointing losses in four months, and was ultimately sent back to the drawing board to avoid the first three-fight skid of her career. That she did, as she spent countless hours honing her striking and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills in tournaments.
Fast forward to June of 2017, nearly a year after her last bout, and Yamaguchi returned to the cage with a vengeance against Jenny Huang. Huang, who also unsuccessfully challenged for Angela Lee’s title in her previous bout, earned her nickname of “Lady Gogo” by being the first to execute an incredibly-rare Gogoplata submission in ONE Championship. Despite her elite ground skills, she proved to be no match for Yamaguchi’s tenaciousness and experience.
Looking to make a statement, the Japanese warrior completely dominated Huang from start to finish. Yamaguchi took two rounds to showcase her dominance, ending matters with a rear-naked choke towards the end of the second frame.
#5 Rika Ishige Taps Nita Dea At ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES
Female atomweight Rika Ishige continued her dominant run since making her professional debut in March. The 28-year-old Thai-Japanese has displayed dogged tenacity in the ONE Championship cage, facing a few challenges in the striking department, but ultimately coming out on top each time.
Ishige, knows exactly where her strengths lie, and she has made it known that when the going gets rough, she has her grappling to fall back on. “Tinydoll’s” evolution as a prospect to watch continued in May in Singapore, when she took on Indonesian wrestling champion Nita Dea.
Dea came out to the cage ready and game for a challenge, with the Indonesian finding early success on the feet. That is when Ishige decided it was time to take it to the ground. Once on the mat, it was a completely different story, as Ishige stifled Dea with her transitions and constant threat of submissions.
Around the middle of the round, Ishige finally executed the finishing sequence, taking Dea’s back and locking in a rear-naked choke.