5 Rising Stars That Make ONE’s Heavyweight MMA Division So Exciting
ONE Championship’s heavyweight mixed martial arts ranks are growing at an exponential rate, with explosive and monstrous athletes being added all the time.
The top spots are currently owned by ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan Bhullar and ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly Malykhin – who are both hoping to unify the belts – but there are plenty of intriguing athletes who are eyeing the upper tier.
Here, we look at five rising stars from various backgrounds who make the future of ONE’s heavyweight MMA division so bright.
#1 Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida
All eyes were on 17-time BJJ World Champion Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida when he signed with ONE and made his MMA debut last year – and so far, he’s backed up the hype.
After a 3-0 start with a trio of dominant first-round finishes, even Bhullar and Malykhin are already anticipating a future clash with “Buchecha.”
However, the Brazilian insists he’s not rushing to challenge for a World Title. He’s been taking the time to improve every area of his game, first at American Kickboxing Academy and now at American Top Team.
At the same time, “Buchecha” is still most dangerous as a grappler. In his three MMA wins to date, the 32-year-old has submitted two opponents and scored a TKO with blistering ground-and-pound.
Everybody in the division has to be wary of the Brazilian’s ground skills, but the scary prospect is how much he can develop in the other ranges now that he’s fully committed to the all-around sport.
#2 Odie Delaney
American Odie Delaney has raced to a perfect 4-0 start in his burgeoning mixed martial arts career, posting back-to-back submission finishes in his first two ONE Championship outings.
“The Witness” comes from a high-level background in folkstyle wrestling as a former NCAA Division 1 All-American – a skill set he’s utilized seamlessly inside the Circle.
However, he’s also accelerated his development by training at the famed American Top Team gym in Florida alongside some legendary heavyweight competitors, including “Buchecha.”
While Delaney has barely been pushed in his four career wins, there’s no doubt that he’s tested daily by his elite training partners, so he’ll be ready for the next level of competition whenever it comes.
#3 Kang Ji Won
South Korea’s Kang Ji Won is a striker in a division filled with incredible grapplers, and he’s managed to post a 6-1 slate with six knockout wins so far.
“Mighty Warrior” then rebounded from his sole defeat against “Buchecha” by separating fellow striker Paul Elliott from his senses at ONE X this past March.
With elite firepower in his fists, there’s always a chance that Kang can end an opponent’s night early. And at 26, he’s still young for a heavyweight and has plenty of time to enter his prime – both in terms of skill and athleticism.
#4 Jasur Mirzamukhamedov
It was “White Tiger’s” toughest test to date, and he overcame some relentless wrestling and smothering ground control to earn a split decision thanks to some hurtful striking in the final frame.
Heavyweights aren’t always renowned for their gas tanks, but the Uzbek athlete rallied late to get the win over Didier – and that kind of tenacity and conditioning could set him apart.
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing close to the heavyweight limit, Mirzamukhamedov’s opponents must also contend with his incredible size, so it will be interesting to see how he fares moving forward.
For now, the 36-year-old will carry a flawless 6-0 record into his next battle.
#5 Batradz Gazzaev
Newly signed Russian heavyweight Batradz Gazzaev is an exciting addition to the fold, with an elite-level freestyle wrestling background and an imposing physical stature.
The Alania Fighting Team man has swiftly amassed a 3-0 record since his transition to MMA in 2021, and he’ll get the chance to showcase his potential at the top level.
Gazzaev combines his takedown ability with ferocious ground-and-pound attacks, and those skills have seen him dispatch all three of his opponents by TKO.
With plenty of other wrestlers in the heavyweight division, Gazzaev will be keen to test their skills against his own and see how things shake out in the Circle.