With a roster packed with the best martial artists in Asia and the world, it is no surprise that displays of respect and sportsmanship take place regularly at ONE Championship’s blockbuster events.
After all, these incredible athletes truly embody these prized martial arts values that the organization holds so dear at its core.
Here, we showcase 11 amazing examples of such displays that transpired in the ONE Championship cage.
Garry Tonon and Shinya Aoki made history in Singapore, competing in ONE’s first-ever Grappling Super-Match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Their bout did not disappoint, perfectly showcasing the world-class grappling game that both of them have become renowned for the world over.
In the end, it was Tonon who won in emphatic fashion, submitting the Japanese legend with one of his trademark heel hooks halfway into the single 15-minute round. Knowing he was beaten fairly, Aoki showed tremendous class and humility, raising Tonon’s hand in victory once he got back to his feet.
In 2016, Angela Lee made history by defeating Mei Yamaguchi to capture the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship and become the youngest-world champion in mixed martial arts. It was truly a bout for the ages, being a five-round affair that was immediately in contention for Fight of the Year, despite it being only May.
Moments after the belt was presented to Lee, the two warriors shared an emotional moment with tears of joy in their eyes, knowing they had put on an incredible show and pushed each other to their limits.
After five full rounds of war for the the ONE Middleweight World Championship, challenger Aung La N Sang and reigning champion Vitaly Bigdash embraced in the middle of the cage to congratulate each other on a job well done, and to thank the Myanmar national hero for taking the bout on short notice.
After turning in a dominant performance, Bigdash unsurprisingly won a unanimous decision to retain the belt. Now, the two will face each other once again in an epic rematch at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION on 30 June.
Australian BRACE Bantamweight Champion Jordan Lucas took an eight-fight winning streak into his ONE Championship debut in Yangon, but had a tough task ahead of him in the Philippines’ Edward Kelly of the famed Team Lakay.
Despite dominating the opening stages of the bout, Lucas presented Kelly with an opening, which the Filipino veteran seized to submit “Showtime” with a rear-naked choke in the first round. Instead of immediately celebrating his comeback win, Kelly instead took the time to console a disappointed Lucas to show true class.
Luis Santos And Igor Svirid At ONE: TITLES & TITANS
Former ONE Middleweight World Champion Igor Svirid dropped to welterweight to face Brazilian top contender Luis Santos in Jakarta, and the two hard-hitting knockout artists battled three hard rounds to a unanimous decision in favor of Santos.
After being declared the winner, Santos made sure to seek Svirid out to thank him for putting up such a spirited performance, and even flashed a rare smile.
In a battle between two rising young prospects, Ahmed Mujtaba and Benedict Ang fought for 15 hard minutes to head to the judges’ scorecards. Before Mujtaba was even announced the winner, however, the two had already exchanged thanks and congratulations.
They even held their arms up in triumph together to celebrate an entertaining bout, because to them, there was no real loser that night.
It was an awesome sight to behold when Roger Huerta and Adrian Pang put their arms over each others’ shoulders like old friends following their three-round thriller in Singapore. Both being veterans with more than a decade of experience under their belts, they had seen it all, and knew they had just been in an instant classic.
Although it was Huerta who took home the close split-decision win to snap a two-fight losing skid, the American remained humble in victory, and showed incredible respect for the hard-hitting Pang.
In the co-main event of the evening, Reece McLaren challenged Bibiano Fernandes for the ONE Bantamweight World Championship, and it was a real war for the ages. Throughout the course of 25 whole minutes, the two elite martial artists gave everything they had in search of victory, but wound up evenly matched enough to leave it to the judges.
Even before finding out the result, McLaren thanked Fernandes for the opportunity and honor of fighting him in the cage. In the end, it was Fernandes who prevailed, retaining his title with a close split-decision win, but both combatants went home knowing they had each learned something about themselves that night.
In the second round of their Singapore encounter, Filipino veteran Vaughn Donayre had hometown hero Amir Khan in a deep Kimura submission, and it seemed certain the young Singaporean would tap. However, Khan gutted out the submission, and even reversed his fortunes by submitting Donayre in the next round with a rear-naked choke.
Incredible display of heart and courage aside, Khan also showed immense class to check if Donayre was okay after securing the tap, perfectly capping off his comeback win.
With the speed at which Christian Lee was rising up the ONE Championship featherweight ranks, it seemed inevitable that he would run into former title challenger Martin Nguyen. The two squared off in Macau, where the seasoned veteran Nguyen brought Lee’s momentum to a screeching halt with a first-round guillotine submission that put the young man to sleep.
Following the bout, Nguyen and Lee shared a great moment in the cage, with the Vietnamese-Australian offering Lee a few words of encouragement, which he graciously accepted.
Marat Gafurov And Narantungalag Jadambaa At ONE: DEFENDING HONOR
After losing his ONE Featherweight World Championship to reigning champion Marat Gafurov in 2015, Narantungalag Jadambaa fought his way back into title contention with two-straight stoppage wins to secure a rematch.
However, he would succumb to Gafurov’s submission mastery, once again falling to a rear-naked choke. After having spent so much time in the cage together, it was apparent both warriors only had the utmost respect for each other, as Gafurov knelt by a recovering Jadambaa following the bout to check on his condition, and to thank the Mongolian hero for two great opportunities for him to showcase his skills.