It should come as no surprise that the ONE Super Series bouts in the first few months of 2019 have been spectacular.
The Muay Thai and kickboxing contests in The Home Of Martial Arts were some of the highlights of 2018, and they have continued to thrill crowds across Asia and around the world this year.
When the world’s greatest strikers test themselves against each other, you can almost guarantee fast-paced, high-quality action. Narrowing down the list of the best of the first quarter was a tough job, but here, in no particular order, are the six that delivered the most unforgettable exchanges.
Thai phenom Rodtang Jitmuangnon outstrikes Hakim Hamech to win via split decision and remain undefeated in ONE Super Series!Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, March 31, 2019
The toe-to-toe nature of Muay Thai requires its participants to be steadfast and determined in the face of solid resistance, and that quality was shown in abundance by Thai superstar Rodtang “Iron Man” Jitmuangnon in his victory over Hakim Hamech at ONE: A NEW ERA.
In Tokyo, Japan, the French striker Hamech pushed Rodtang to the limit over three action-packed rounds that barely saw either man look to take a backward step.
Rodtang, as he often does, pushed the pace hard during the contest, but found himself on the receiving end of slick counters and hard body blows in this flyweight Muay Thai battle. However, the Thai superstar plowed forward relentlessly in a bid to gain supremacy in the middle of the ONE Circle.
As the contest wore on, Hamech’s output started to drop, but Rodtang never stopped, and that ability to endure and keep moving forward proved to be the deciding factor in his split-decision victory.
Hamech’s stock rose despite the narrow loss, and it seems certain that the pair will both move forward to greater things in the months ahead – and a rematch may not be out of the question, either.
#2 Hiroki Akimoto VS Josh Tonna
Hiroki Akimoto came into ONE Super Series with a lot of hype, and the WFKO Karate World Champion did not disappoint as he engaged in a knock-down, drag-out battle with the teak-tough Josh “Timebomb” Tonna at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT in Manila, Philippines.
Akimoto instantly turned to his kicks to establish his striking superiority, as he attacked the legs of his opponent in the early exchanges, before switching his attention to the body with great effect.
A thumping kick to the ribs forced the Aussie to take a count from the referee, but he came back strongly and scored a knockdown of his own as he dropped his Japanese opponent with a solid right hand.
That prompted Akimoto to find another gear, and he turned up the work-rate and put his rival on the canvas with another big body kick.
But despite the damage he absorbed, Tonna battled all the way to the final bell, but the result was never in doubt. All three judges gave the Evolve representative the victory by unanimous decision for a great start to life on the global stage for martial arts.
Jonathan Haggerty puts on a Muay Thai masterclass to clinch a unanimous decision victory over Joseph Lasiri!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, January 19, 2019
Jonathan Haggerty produced a ONE debut to remember in his maiden ONE Super Series performance as he showcased his full striking arsenal in a victory against WBC Muay Thai Super-Bantamweight World Champion Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY in January.
The Englishman competed with the maturity and composure of an athlete many years his elder as he battled with the relentless Italian striker across three breathless rounds in Jakarta.
Haggerty’s elbows were a feature of the contest as he dropped Lasiri with a downward strike in the first round, and connected with a plenty more at close range as he effortlessly mixed up his offense. What’s more, every strike seemed to be thrown with perfect technique.
However, Lasiri showed the durability and determination you would expect to see from a World Champion athlete as he roared back into the contest, but he could not quite do enough, and the decision was clear-cut after three rounds.
There could be no more fitting place for the inaugural ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title to be contested than the sport’s home of Thailand.
The iconic athlete outpointed young Chinese striker Han Zi Hao over five rounds, but he had to work hard for his win.
Nong-O dropped Han in the first round, but he had to fend off the Chinese star’s charge as he attempted to impose his physicality on the 32-year-old to get back on even terms.
But despite a determined performance from the Top King Muay Thai World Champion, it was the Thai hero who always held the advantage, and he continued to pile on the offense to run away with a unanimous decision.
#5 Tarik Khbabez VS Andrei Stoica
Tarik Khbabez remains undefeated in ONE Super Series with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Andrei Stoica!Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, March 8, 2019
But thanks to both men’s remarkable durability and refusal to back down, fans witnessed a gritty striking battle between two of the light-heavyweight division’s hardest punchers instead.
The two SUPERKOMBAT World Champions kept a remarkable pace, as Romania’s Stoica settled into his rhythm faster, but his Dutch-Moroccan rival eventually took over with his relentless forward pressure.
In the end, Khbabez’s constant offense proved more effective than Stoica’s more measured strike selection, as the judges unanimously awarded him the victory. It was the 45th win of his career, and his third in a row in ONE Super Series.
#6 Stamp Fairtex VS Janet Todd
Stamp Fairtex became the first two-discipline World Champion in The Home Of Martial Arts at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS as she defeated Janet “JT” Todd in a five-round thriller to become the inaugural ONE Super Series Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion.
It was expected to be a battle of Stamp’s power versus Todd’s speed, and that seemed to be the case throughout much of the opening rounds in Singapore. The Thai hero sprung a surprise by leaning more heavily on her boxing, but her hands looked great as she aggressively threw them through her rival’s guard.
However, competitive spirit kept Todd in the match, and she started to put in her best work late on. She executed an impressive sweep to send Stamp to the canvas in round four, and then pushed the pace in the last round in search of the finish she needed.
Despite the American’s efforts, the Thai stayed active, and her overall performance warranted the nod from all three ringside judges.