As well as a plethora of top-class mixed martial arts bouts, 2018 saw ONE Championship introduce ONE Super Series – the stand-up martial arts league featuring the best athletes from the worlds of Muay Thai and kickboxing.
As 2018 comes to a close, take a look back at a quartet of the most crowd-pleasing, all-striking clashes in the final three months of the year.
Tarik Khbabez Runs Through Ibrahim El Bouni
Will Tarik Khbabez hold ONE Super Series gold in 2019?Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, December 8, 2018
It was Khbabez whose relentless pressure proved decisive as he battled his way to a third-round finish.
Early on, it looked as if El Bouni had the upper hand. His footwork was smoother, his punches were crisper, and he appeared to have his timing set from the opening bell. But a glimpse of the bout’s conclusion came in the final moments of round one, when Khbabez rocked “Mr. Cool” back against the fence with a heavy punch.
It proved to be the turning point in the contest, and Khbabez dominated the second round – dropping his fellow countryman twice with power shots. El Bouni struggled to survive the round.
With “Mr. Cool’s” gas tank severely depleted by Khbabez’s body blows, the man whose footwork looked so impressive in the first round was a sitting duck in the third frame, as Khbabez closed the show with a salvo of shots that forced referee Atsushi Onari to halt the contest with just 34 seconds remaining in the bout.
It proved that Khbabez has the mental strength and the sheer determination to defeat world-class opposition in ONE Super Series, and suggested the Dutch-Moroccan marauder will take some stopping in his quest for a ONE Super Series World Title.
Petchmorrakot’s Elbow Ends Liam Harrison Brawl
Petchmorrakot's elbow was ON POINT. Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, December 8, 2018
Harrison went on the offensive from the opening bell – connecting with heavy leg kicks and solid punches. The Englishman proved he had no qualms about going for broke against the 24-year-old from Bangkok.
The Leeds native even swept the Thai star – dumping him to the canvas after catching a kick. Petchmorrakot knew he was in a real contest and had to up his intensity in the second round to force the “Hitman” onto the back foot. He took the center of the cage and loaded up on his own strikes.
Petchmorrakot found a home for his kicks and punches, but it was his elbows that proved to be decisive, as he closed the distance to try and land the bout-ending strike.
Harrison responded by firing back with a combination packed with power punches, but Petchmorrakot waited for his moment, then unleashed a perfectly-timed elbow that connected flush on the Brit, sending him down to the canvas, where he failed to beat the count.
It was a spectacular way to end a sensational bout, and highlighted the Thai star as one to watch in 2019 as he looks to position himself as the leading athlete in the featherweight division.
Young Guns Go All-Out In Muay Thai Thriller
Saemapetch Fairtex & Alaverdi Ramazanov tore the house down with this Muay Thai masterpiece!Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, November 25, 2018
A pair of young guns had the crowd on their feet at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS, as MTGP Welterweight World Champion Saemapetch Fairtex and three-time IFMA Champion Alaverdi Ramazanov went toe-to-toe for three thrilling rounds in Manila, Philippines.
The action was non-stop, and the fist bump between the pair after Ramazanov connected with a spinning back fist showed the competitors were enjoying the action almost as much as the crowd.
Ramazanov’s more unorthodox style saw him test Saemapetch throughout, as the 23-year-old Russian sent the Thai to the canvas twice with front kicks, while Saemapetch’s cleaner technique and composure were evident in his razor-sharp counter strikes and slick footwork.
It took the 24-year-old a round to decipher Ramazanov’s technique, but by the third period, Saemapetch appeared to be in control. It all added up to a closely-contested battle that left many watching scratching their heads when it came to scoring the bout.
When the judges rendered their verdict, they were in agreement that Thailand’s Saemapetch had done just enough to secure the victory.
Expect both Saemapetch and Ramazanov to continue to occupy spots in the upper echelons of the bantamweight class in 2019. Assuming they do, a rematch would not be out of the question to guarantee more explosive action further down the line.
Nong-O Dominates “Diamond Heart”
Nong-O sent Bangkok into a meltdown with this Muay Thai clinic Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, October 7, 2018
Muay Thai legend Nong-O Gaiyanghadao has accomplished everything there is to achieve in the Muay Thai arena. But now, thanks to the introduction of ONE Super Series, the 31-year-old superstar can now showcase his talent on the global stage in search of more glory and a new World Title.
His performance against Mehdi “Diamond Heart” Zatout at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES proved the Thai bantamweight is still at the peak of his powers as he outpointed the Frenchman with a clinical display of precision, powerful striking in their three-round Muay Thai contest.
Zatout came out aggressively and dumped the Thai star to the canvas not once, but twice as he looked to prove that he would not be an easy proposition for the Evolve representative.
But while Zatout was competitive, “Diamond Heart” was unable to match Nong-O for output, accuracy or force as the four-division Lumpimee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion showcased his full range of Muay Thai weapons.
He cracked Zatout with punishing leg kicks in the first round, dropped him with a huge elbow in the second, and then staggered the Frenchman in the third, but to his great credit, the Frenchman kept coming back for more as he made it to the final bell.
The win was never in doubt for the Thai as he earned a unanimous decision victory to serve notice to the rest of the bantamweights in ONE Super Series that he is the man to beat heading into 2019.