A pair of incredible events made May 2018 one of the best months in ONE Championship history.
Titles were won and lost across four world championship bouts, legendary athletes competed on the biggest stage of their careers, and elite competitors wrote their names into the record books with unforgettable performances.
Among all of their triumphs, these are the five moments that stood out more than any others in May.
Yoshitaka Naito Reclaims ONE Gold
Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito went to Indonesia in search of redemption.
The Japanese grappling superstar was devastated when he lost the ONE Strawweight World Title to Alex “Little Rock” Silva last December. He returned to action for the rematch in the Jakarta Convention Center, and came with the perfect game plan to reclaim the belt.
Having felt the force of Silva’s striking in their previous encounter, Naito went back to his roots at ONE: GRIT & GLORY on 12 May. For 25 minutes, he employed a masterful strategy to shut down danger and dominate his opponent on the mat.
It was a performance to make the hearts of grappling purists sing.
Despite the Brazilian’s world-class ground game, Naito showed no fear. His submission defense was supreme, as he went to work to smother Silva. It was a performance to remind everyone why “Nobita” is one of the best martial artists on the planet.
The First ONE Super Series World Champion Is Crowned
Their bout at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in Singapore was for the inaugural ONE Super Series Flyweight Muay Thai World Title, and Sam-A put on a performance worthy of the occasion.
Already a multiple-time Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion, the Singapore-based Thai added yet another title to his career haul with an incredible TKO victory on 18 May.
After wowing the crowd for the first three rounds with his trademark speed and power, the 34-year-old took things to another level in the fourth. He scored one knockdown, and then connected with a stunning elbow combination to put his opponent on the canvas for the second time and end his evening.
Incredibly, it was his 366th career win. Fans will be eagerly anticipating his first world title defense in the near future.
Ataides Becomes The First Man To Stop Bigdash
The five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion had already impressed throughout the match by out-striking his Russian adversary. He was heading towards a unanimous decision victory, but was not about to settle for that.
Halfway through the third round, “Leo” scored with a Superman punch that stunned Bigdash, and then followed up with a flurry of strikes that finished the former ONE Middleweight World Champion.
Ataides was overcome with emotion in victory – and few could blame him. As well as becoming the first man to finish Bigdash, he earned a future opportunity at Aung La N Sang’s middleweight world title.
Lee And Yamaguchi Put On Another Classic
However, their main-event contest at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS still put on an incredible show, and proved to be one of the best bouts of 2018 so far as the rivals went back and forth for another 25 unforgettable minutes.
Both women had sustained spells of success throughout the match, and came agonizingly close to finding a finish.
In her return to action after surviving a car crash in November, Lee was inches away from sending her hometown crowd into raptures with a stoppage. She threatened first with an armbar, and then a rear-naked choke in the early exchanges.
Yamaguchi, however, survived the submission attempts and came on strong in the championship rounds. Her powerful striking and improved grappling almost swung the contest in her favor.
Lee had done just enough, though, and retained her world title by unanimous decision due to her near-submissions. Even though she now boasts two wins in this series, few could complain if the rivalry was renewed for a third encounter.
Yodsanklai Arrives In ONE Super Series
After almost 200 victories and a multitude of world championships earned around the globe, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex showed his greatness on the biggest stage of his career.
A living legend in the worlds of Muay Thai and kickboxing, “The Hero” truly delivered in his ONE Super Series debut at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS, claiming a decisive victory over Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi.
The Thai superstar lived up to his reputation with a dazzling display – landing strikes in combination that were as accurate as they were powerful.
For his part, Ngimbi was a game opponent. He battled back for the entire bout and refused to lie down under heavy fire.
However, over the three rounds, Yodsanklai connected with the more effective punches, kicks, and knees to earn the unanimous decision from the judges. The world now eagerly awaits his return.