When in the cage, the warriors of ONE Championship give their all to defeat their opponents, but their efforts are always guided by the defining values of martial arts – including humility, honor, respect, and compassion.
Whether they win or lose, the athletes share a genuine appreciation for each other’s efforts and skills, leading to incredibly heartwarming displays of sportsmanship.
Here are some of the most iconic displays of this warrior spirit over the past few months – highlighting just why ONE Championship is the Home of Martial Arts.
Warrior Recognizes Warrior
Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa is one of the most respected men in mixed martial arts.
The former ONE Featherweight World Champion defies traditional perceptions of age at 42 years old – stepping into the cage with the strength and athleticism of a man 20 years his junior to put on a show time and time again. Recently, he did that twice in three weeks.
After dispatching Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly via second-round TKO at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, he went up against Kazuki Tokudome at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER and outworked the Japanese star for three rounds.
When the final bell rang, the Lightweight King of Pancrase turned to his conquering foe, and kneeled down in tribute. Humble in victory as ever, Jadambaa reciprocated the gesture after being pushed hard for 15 minutes.
Rivalry And Respect
In September 2014, the Brazilian emerged with a win via second-round guillotine choke. His Filipino opponent was the superior striker, so he wisely took the bout to the mat, using his jiu-jitsu ability to finish things quickly.
When the pair met for the second time at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, the dynamic was different. Eustaquio had developed the skills to match Moraes on the ground, and the Brazilian had also made huge strides in his stand-up skills, meaning he was more than capable of taking on the wushu stylist on his feet.
It made for a back-and-forth battle, where the victor would be determined via a razor-thin margin. When the contest ended, the World Champions congratulated each other on their efforts and improvement as martial artists, even before the decision was read.
Eustaquio ended up with the split decision and the ONE Flyweight World Title, but that means these competitors are 1-1 in their series, so fans may well be treated to a rubber match in the future.
The Joy Of Battle
Few men can match modern-day Muay Thai legend Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex in a clash of feet and fists. Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi surprised many martial arts fans around the world when he pushed “The Hero” to the limit in their ONE Super Series kickboxing contest at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
Though the Thai legend clearly had the better of the opening two rounds, Ngimbi blasted back in the third, throwing everything in his locker at his adversary – including a flying knee in the final seconds that came close to stealing a shocking knockout win.
Yodsanklai has won 200 bouts in his career, and he has obliterated many elite kickboxers, so he immediately recognized the efforts of one of his toughest opponents – and the entertainment it gave the fans inside the sold-out Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Though they do not speak the same language, they understood each other’s appreciation and congratulations for one another – after the final bell, before the decision was announced, and after Yodsanklai’s had was raised.
Empathy And Consolation
Amir Khan knows what it is like to lose as a young martial artist starting his career on the big stage. He has had to bounce back from defeat to improve and emerge as one of the leading contenders in the lightweight division.
For South Korea’s Sung Jong Lee, a bout with the experienced Singaporean was a bridge too far in just his fifth professional match, and despite displaying some otherworldly toughness through heavy offense, he succumbed to a TKO defeat in round two at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
In the aftermath of their bout, the Cheonan native hung his head in disappointment, but the man who handed him a defeat on his debut offered a consolatory hand – understanding the emotions he was going through.
World Champion Respect
Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen has been there and done it all – winning both the ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Titles – and he dreamed of becoming the first mixed martial artist to simultaneously hold World Championships in three divisions.
However, when Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon defeated him by unanimous decision at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS to claim the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Title, the Vietnamese-Australian did not hesitate to show his respect.
Knowing what it takes to capture the gold, he walked straight over to his rival and raised his hand to the world. He recognized who the better man was on the night, and made sure that everyone else knew it as well.