If ONE: BATTLEGROUND was any indication, the second half of ONE Championship’s 2021 campaign will be filled with fireworks.
The Home Of Martial Arts returned to action on Friday, 30 July, inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium for a six-fight event that featured some of the best and brightest martial artists in the world.
In key moments on the global stage, a teenage sensation continued to take the world by storm, two athletes found redemption inside the Circle, and a new ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion was crowned.
When the final bell sounded and the confetti was swept away, these were the five major takeaways we came away with at ONE: BATTLEGROUND.
#1 Prajanchai Grabs The Torch From Sam-A
Two-sport ONE World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao may have claimed that Prajanchai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym did not deserve an immediate shot at the promotion’s strawweight Muay Thai belt, but the phenom ultimately dethroned the legend after a thrilling five-round main event.
Prajanchai, a six-time Muay Thai World Champion, pressured Sam-A with his speed and power from the outset. And at the end of the first frame, the challenger landed with a solid right hand that sent the defending champ to the mat.
Following another strong round from Prajanchai, Sam-A began to work himself into the action. Both men found success in the third, setting the stage for an exciting conclusion.
The 37-year-old titleholder used his veteran savvy to control the championship rounds, while the 26-year-old challenger began to slow down. But when the final bell rang, Sam-A wore the damage on his face, and Prajanchai had upended the all-time great by majority decision.
There is no doubt that Sam-A remains a dominant force – he also holds the kickboxing strap at strawweight – but the rising Prajanchai will now begin his own reign atop the strawweight Muay Thai division and look to establish himself as the next fearsome kingpin on the global stage.
#2 Aung La N Sang Is Back
After losing both of his ONE World Titles to Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder, the former two-division king could have faded away. Instead, he looked as focused and determined as ever, stinging Ataides with heavy punches and thudding kicks that showcased his work at Sanford MMA under the tutelage of Henri Hooft.
More importantly, “The Burmese Python” demonstrated his improved ground game. After he was taken down by Ataides, the Myanmar star defended advances from the five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion and worked his way back to his feet – a much different outcome than in his losses to De Ridder.
Once they were standing, Aung La N Sang pressured Ataides to the Circle Wall. He then unleashed a furious eight-punch combination that was capped off by a crushing right hook. As “Wolf” slumped to the canvas, the Myanmar icon let his emotions overflow in celebration.
Aung La N Sang also made it known in his post-fight interview that anybody who wants a shot can get it. There is no fear within his body, and “The Burmese Python” is back in a big way.
#3 Ritu Phogat Rebounds In Dominant Fashion
After suffering her first professional loss, fans were left wondering how Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat would respond.
Phogat came forward right away and displayed her improved striking. However, “The Indian Tigress” did not shy away from her roots. She also got inside the range of her Chinese counterpart and took the action to the floor, where she was in command of the action.
The Indian’s game plan continued throughout the next two rounds as she dominated Lin with controlled aggression. In fact, Phogat looked better than ever, showing that she learned much from her first defeat and made the necessary corrections at Evolve MMA.
The journey toward the top always has its setbacks. Phogat suffered her first, but after Friday’s win, it’s clear that she will be a threat to any contender in the women’s atomweight division.
#4 Is Jeremy Pacatiw The Next ONE Star For Team Lakay?
Chen Rui and Jeremy Pacatiw went BLOW-FOR-BLOW in this three-round bantamweight scrap! 💥💥💥 #ONEBattleground
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, July 30, 2021
Team Lakay continued to show its power of product with another strong addition to The Home Of Martial Arts.
“The Juggernaut’s” first appearance on the global stage got off to a hot start, as he mixed up his offense early and found success against the Chinese athlete. The diverse attacks continued in the second round, where Pacatiw looked for a knockout but was equally comfortable on the canvas.
Chen fired back in the third round, but the work from the Filipino bantamweight was enough to earn the judges’ decision.
It was also a win for Team Lakay. The 25-year-old’s performance showcased the gym’s ability to groom the next wave of Filipino athletes as it looks to claim more ONE World Title gold.
#5 The Victoria Lee Hype Train Rolls On
The 17-year-old mixed martial arts phenom blitzed out of her corner from the opening bell, quickly put Wang on the canvas, and went to work with a flurry of punches and elbows while hunting for the finish. It was a near-perfect performance that showed exactly why so much is expected of her.
Lee, the younger sister to atomweight queen “Unstoppable” Angela Lee and lightweight king Christian “The Warrior” Lee, might bring the weight of her last name into every match, but she’s proving her shoulders can carry the burden.
The mounted triangle-armbar finish came at 3:22 of the first round, but what the world saw in that timeframe was a teenage wunderkind seizing her moment on the global stage.
This “Prodigy” is for real, and she’s ready to take on even tougher tests in the atomweight division.
Read more: The Best Photos From ONE: BATTLEGROUND