This past Friday, 3 September, the women of ONE Championship stepped into the spotlight and delivered an unforgettable night of martial arts action at ONE: EMPOWER.
The show featured the quarterfinal round of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, a ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title main event, and two exceptional ONE Super Series contests.
Following a historic night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, here are the five biggest takeaways from our first all-women’s event.
#1 The Atomweight Grand Prix Delivers Nonstop Excitement
Featuring eight world-class mixed martial artists from eight different countries, the quarterfinal round of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix ignited “The Lion City.”
Every competitor stepped inside the Circle at the top of their game and gave everything they had in an attempt to reach the semifinals.
“Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham and Stamp Fairtex advanced with narrow split-decision victories. Meanwhile, Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat and Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata overcame adversity to capture unanimous decisions and move to the next round.
Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga, Alyona Rassohyna, Meng Bo, and Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson may have been knocked out of the tournament, but each of those four women showed themselves to be dangerous competitors who remain in the hunt in a stacked atomweight division. There was no shame in any one of their performances.
The ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix is off to a fantastic start. Now, the power resides in the hands of the fans to determine the semifinal bouts.
#2 Xiong Remains The Most Dangerous Strawweight
The only ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion the planet has ever known continues to reign supreme.
“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan avoided the dangerous ground game of 13-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Michelle Nicolini, and she used her superior striking to take a clear unanimous decision. In the process, she also became the promotion’s only female titleholder to successfully defend a belt five times.
Xiong set the tone early with a massive overhand right that floored the Brazilian challenger. Each time Nicolini attempted to grapple and impose her game, the Chinese superstar defended wisely and escaped without harm.
“The Panda” is still in her prime and thrills a global audience every time she steps into the Circle. And after this record-setting victory, many are wondering if there is anyone who can dethrone the seemingly invincible strawweight queen.
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#3 ‘The Indian Tigress’ Has Plenty Of Heart
Phogat faced her toughest challenge to date in Meng – and passed with one of the greatest comebacks in ONE history.
The Evolve MMA representative was rocked by the Chinese knockout artist’s laser right hand in the first round, and it looked as if the Indian star might face a stoppage loss for the very first time. But instead of wilting under the pressure, she turned the tide and closed the opening frame in top position.
With a new lease on life, “The Indian Tigress” barrelled out in the second frame and took control. And although Meng kept it interesting in the third with a damaging front kick, Phogat got the action back to the mat, where she dropped in unrelenting ground-and-pound.
Phogat proved all of her doubters wrong by overcoming adversity and the power of the nearly unstoppable Chinese athlete. Now, she stands ready for the semifinals of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix with a fire in her belly.
#4 Meksen Shines In ONE Super Series Debut
Pound-for-pound kickboxing great Anissa “C18” Meksen made her highly anticipated ONE Super Series debut and lived up to the hype.
Though Cristina Morales was a game opponent and stayed active, Meksen’s control was evident from the start. She didn’t waver in the face of pressure and connected cleanly when every small window opened.
In the second round, off a restart, Meksen put together a lightning-quick combination that stunned Morales. The onslaught continued until the Spaniard fell to the mat, and the match was waved off.
After stepping onto the global stage and performing up to the lofty expectations, the dream matchup with ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Janet “JT” Todd seems exceptionally tantalizing.
#5 Buntan The Front-Runner For Muay Thai Strawweight Gold
The Boxing Works representative continued to up her volume in the following two rounds. And though Lopez’s toughness was apparent, the Filipina-American earned a unanimous decision when it went to the scorecards.
Buntan’s left hook is quickly becoming a known weapon with its blistering speed and cracking power, but she has every technique in her arsenal if needed. Every time she enters the Circle, the Filipina-American’s case for gold becomes stronger and stronger.
When the ONE Women’s Strawweight Muay Thai World Championship becomes inaugurated, Buntan could be one of the first two people challenging for the belt.