The heroes of ONE Championship put on a stunning show on Friday.
On 13 July, at the promotion’s most recent spectacle ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, all of the martial artists competing on the card showcased heart, determination, and warrior spirit.
There were thrilling performances from beginning to end, which made this event one of the most entertaining martial arts shows of the year.
Here are just five of the most incredible highlights from an unforgettable night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Zebaztian Kadestam’s Striking
Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam was only able to show a glimpse of his offensive ability in his previous two promotional appearances, but he demonstrated his renowned striking prowess in the “Bout Of The Night” thanks to his much-improved grappling defense.
The 27-year-old Swede stuffed most of Agilan “Alligator” Thani’s takedown attempts to keep the main-event bout upright, and forced the Malaysian superhero to engage in a stand-up battle.
Every strike “The Bandit” threw was with power and precision, and by the third round, he had transformed into an unstoppable juggernaut. He walked Thani down with boxing combos punctuated with kicks – a potent offensive arsenal that kept the tired “Alligator” guessing.
After dropping Thani with a ferocious left hook, Kadestam finished his adversary with a knee, a pair of elbows, and a stiff cross.
In victory, the Stockholm native became the first person to TKO Thani, as well as the first person to defeat him in his native Kuala Lumpur.
Jo Nattawut’s “Smokin” Knockout
“Smokin” Jo Nattawut utilized all eight of his dangerous Muay Thai weapons in his ONE Super Series Muay Thai featherweight clash with Yohann Fairtex Drai, but his tenacious boxing proved to be the difference-maker.
The 28-year-old Thai mixed up his attack, but found success with the jab-cross in the bout’s opening minute. He amplified the damage when he rocked the Frenchman with an overhand right to the side of the head, and then dropped him with a straight right a minute later.
Drai displayed immense toughness to beat the referee’s 10-count, but Nattawut would not be denied. He applied even more pressure, sent his opponent to the cage fence, and then launched a melee of left hooks and crosses to finish the job with only a second remaining in the first stanza. The effort earned him “Knockout Of The Night” honors.
Nattawut looked extremely comfortable and confident in his second ONE Super Series bout. He thrived with the Muay Thai rule set, 4-ounce gloves, and coming to the cage after several weeks of acclimatizing to Southeast Asia.
Now that he has found his groove in the world’s largest martial arts organization, there could be no stopping him.
Ariel Sexton’s Spectacular Submission
Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton reminded people why he is one of the best submission wizards in the lightweight division.
The Costa Rican put his Daniel Gracie BJJ back belt to good use on Friday in his bout with Shooto Welterweight Tournament Champion Kota Shimioshi.
While Sexton displayed his heavy-handed striking to drop the Japanese competitor twice, it was his world-class submission skills that shined in the bout’s grand finale.
Just seconds into the third round, Sexton strategically maneuvered his legs around his exhausted rival’s head and arms to secure a reverse triangle choke. “Tarzan” grabbed Shimioshi’s left arm, locked his left hand on his foe’s left wrist, and bent it horizontally to apply an Americana, which forced the tap immediately.
Sexton made a triumphant return, and turned in a strong contender for 2018’s “Submission Of The Year.”
Li Kai Wen’s Stellar Performance
“The Underdog” Li Kai Wen expressed his desire to put on the “Bout Of The Year” contender at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, and he will certainly be in the running for that prize at the end of 2018 after his “Performance Of The Night” against Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia.
Three weeks on from his record-breaking 10-second knockout of Rodian Menchavez, the 22-year-old Chinese featherweight added to his highlight-reel while with a scintillating TKO of his dangerous opponent.
As usual, Li was aggressive throughout the entire contest, and he nearly ended the match in the opening stanza on two occasions with his heavy hands. However, the American showed his extraordinary durability to survive until round two.
The momentum shifted Urrutia’s way during the second frame. He maintained a better defensive stance, punished Li with heavy leg kicks, and stifled him with a stiff jab.
Even though the Chinese warrior slowed down, he battled through adversity in the third to prevail. A minute into the final frame, “The Honey Badger” had lowered his hands, which allowed Li to strike with a volley of hard, stiff punches down the pipe. He knocked Urrutia down and then followed up with a salvo of punches to get the TKO.
It was an incredible showing for “The Underdog,” who may need to change his moniker in the months to come.
Petchdam Kaiyanghadao’s Powerful Premiere
From his theatrical entrance to his highlight-reel finish, WBC Muay Thai World Champion Petchdam Kaiyanghadao captured the attention of everyone inside the Axiata Arena.
In his ONE Super Series Muay Thai flyweight tussle with Australia’s Josh “Timebomb” Tonna, the pink-haired warrior constantly found a home for his lightning-fast left kicks.
He battered the Aussie’s legs, arms, and ribs with his powerful strikes, until he knocked the Aussie out with a decisive blow.
The Thai southpaw launched a massive left roundhouse kick nearly halfway into the second stanza. His shin thudded into Tonna’s ribs, while his knee landed flush on Tonna’s tucked chin at the same time, and sent him flying flat onto his back.
It was an unforgettable debut for Petchdam. At only 20 years of age, the sky is the limit for him.