This past July, ONE Championship’s finest heroes engaged in some of the most thrilling battles of the year.
Over the course of three spectacular martial arts extravaganzas, the heroes entertained the masses in their respective mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and Muay Thai bouts. They certainly brought the action, and all of that was captured through the power of photography.
It is often said a picture is worth a thousand words, but the feelings and emotions attached to the 10 images below make these photographs even more valuable.
With that in mind, here are the best action shots from July 2018.
Robin Catalan’s Heel Hook
The Filipino avoided getting into a stand-up war with Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis, opting to use his grappling to nullify his rival’s striking prowess.
It soon paid off for Catalan, who was able to secure a heel hook two minutes into the second round. He locked his legs over the Indonesian’s left hip, extended his own hips, and applied pressure on the knee. Ultimately, that forced the tap.
Saemapetch Fairtex’s Fierce Kicks
Saemapetch Fairtex is the latest exciting addition to ONE Super Series’ Muay Thai bantamweight division.
The 23-year-old used his speed, power, and precision to beat Lithuania’s Deividas Danyla at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
He operated behind a lightning-fast jab, and punished Danyla with roundhouse kicks. In fact, Saemapetch turned his opponent’s ribs red in a matter of seconds.
The Thai southpaw later changed up his strategy by sneaking in picture-perfect switch kicks, like the one pictured above. However, Danyla was determined to power through to the end, even as the damage accumulated.
In the end, the Thai legend prevailed via unanimous decision.
Sergej Maslobojev’s Powerful Jab
It might have only been Sergej “Kuvalda” Maslobojev’s second bout in ONE Super Series, but he has become a dominant force, as well as one of the promotion’s most entertaining striking superstars.
On Friday, 13 July, the Lithuanian middleweight ripped through promotional newcomer, and fellow three-time Kickboxing World Champion Florent Kaouachi, at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Maslobojev used an array of strikes to knock down the Frenchman, but what turned out to be one of his most effective weapons was his jab.
The 31-year-old utilized a power jab, which constantly snapped Kaouachi’s head back. Not only did it drop the Frenchman, but it also paved the way to a decision victory for “Kuvalda.”
Li Kai Wen’s Hard Cross
The 22-year-old Chinese featherweight faced Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia, and picked up right where he left off.
Li rocked Urrutia a few times in the opening stanza with his hard, stiff punches. Although the Chinese warrior experienced adversity from his surging opponent in round two, he threw massive rights — like the one pictured above — to knock “The Honey Badger” down for good in the final round.
Tyler McGuire’s Flying Punch Off The Cage
Unbeaten American hero Tyler McGuire impressed in his promotional debut.
The United States Air Force Staff Sergeant utilized his sensational wrestling and endless cardio to defeat former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER.
While McGuire frustrated his Brazilian adversary with a blended attack, he did unleash several dazzling strikes — including this creative superman punch off the cage.
The American tried to close the distance by running at the cage, springing his body off the fence, and rocking Santos with a flying overhand right. Although “Sapo” moved out of the way, McGuire maintained his focus, and earned the decision victory in the end.
Jo Nattawut’s Devastating Cross
“Smokin’” Jo Nattawut entered his co-main event tilt at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER with a new fire in his eyes.
The 28-year-old used the four-ounce gloves for the first time in his professional career, and he demolished Yohann Fairtex Drai in their ONE Super Series Muay Thai featherweight bout.
Nattawut walked down the Frenchman and battered him with a plethora of strikes, but he displayed his ferocious boxing to perfection. It led to him knocking down Drai two minutes into the bout, and he ultimately finished the job with right crosses and left hooks a second before the opening stanza concluded.
The “Smokin” athlete’s technique, power, and placement of his punches — especially the right cross — was impeccable. It was a sight to behold, and something all practitioners of “the art of eight limbs” should study.
Renzo Gracie’s Airtight Rear-Naked Choke
At age 51, Renzo Gracie proved he was still an extremely sharp, clever, and lethal submission artist.
The sixth-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt made a triumphant return to competition following an eight-year break at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila, Philippines on Friday, 27 July.
Merely one minute into the second round, he brilliantly took fellow mixed martial arts pioneer Yuki Kondo to the ground, where he methodically locked in a rear-naked choke.
It was clear the Japanese welterweight tried to hang on, but Gracie’s right arm was perfectly underneath the chin. Little by little, he tightened his squeeze. Kondo was clearly struggling for air, and he was forced to submit.
Joshua Pacio’s Innovative Submission
Joshua Pacio may be known for his striking prowess, but he is transforming into a complete — and creative — mixed martial artist.
The Filipino strawweight showcased his evolution at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, as he grounded Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit, mounted his back, and went for a rear-naked choke.
However, after his attempt failed, he switched gears. Pacio grabbed his adversary’s left arm for a modified kimura, and applied immense pressure. Mitsatit could not survive for long, and soon tapped to the move that would be called “The Passion Lock.”
Shinya Aoki’s Ground And Pound
Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki followed his traditional game plan, but added a new twist.
In the opening seconds of his lightweight clash with Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, the 35-year-old Japanese martial arts icon worked for a takedown.
He brought the Thai pioneer to the canvas with a body lock takedown, and soon advanced to the full mount. However, instead of fishing for submissions, the former ONE Lightweight World Champion rained down strikes.
Aoki damaged Wiratchai with an unrelenting melee of ground and pound. The Thai tried to cover up, but “Tobikan Judan” looked for openings and effectively dropped strikes. Referee Yuji Shimada watched carefully, and he would not let the bout continue for much longer.
Kevin Belingon’s Spinning Back Kick
In the main event of ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon claimed gold.
The Filipino pulled out all the tricks from his elite striking arsenal to defeat two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, and become the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion.
All throughout the five-round affair, each competitor was measured and calculated with their respective attacks. However, it was Belingon who unloaded more strikes. He even dazzled with his trademark spinning kicks, like the one pictured above.
Belingon remained focused, planted his foot, and kicked his way to victory.