ONE Championship color commentator Mitch “The Dragon” Chilson is as passionate as he is knowledgeable about the athletes on the global stage, so he is excited every time he gets to call their bouts.
However, some martial artists have a tendency to get him more animated on the mic because of the blistering action they bring to the Circle, and this quintet gets him more excited than any others.
#1 Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon
Number one for me is an athlete in a sport that I know very well, and that’s Muay Thai. ONE Super Series is truly setting the martial arts world on fire, and one guy that is leading the charge right now – my favorite striker – is Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
Rodtang just exudes excitement. He’s such a sweet, calm individual outside of the ring, but once he flicks that switch and starts shaking that head, he just tears people apart.
Talking to his opponents before and after they compete against him, it is truly the tale of two athletes. Jonathan Haggerty was a perfect example. He said, ‘It felt like I was having rocks thrown at my body when he started punching me.’
Rodtang is just granite. He’s hard and he’s got this belief that he can just walk through anything. He’s okay to take one to be able to give one, and he is definitely one of my top guys that you have to watch right now.
#2 Thanh Le
Number two on the list has got to be featherweight sensation, Thanh Le.
He has had a tough road in ONE Championship. First, he had to go up against an absolute killer in Yusup Saadulaev. Saadualev took him to town in that first round, he was all over him on the ground and beating him up, but every round starts on the feet, and that is a danger with Thanh Le. He came out guns blazing in the second round and starched Saadulaev.
I was extremely impressed with that, but then to go through the Japanese guys the way that he did? He ran through Kotetsu Boku and then he ran through Ryogo Takahashi. This guy is a beast. He’s legit on the ground and he’s dangerous on the feet.
#3 Gary “The Lion Killer” Tonon
There is nobody inside ONE Championship – or pretty much mixed martial arts – that’s got the pedigree that Garry Tonon does on the ground. If he grabs on to you somehow, whether he catches a leg kick or he gets you inside the clinch, you don’t know what he’s going to do.
He is dangerous anywhere. He can grab your leg kick, twirl around your leg, and then try to twist your leg off your body. He is scary, he is a nightmare, and now that he is starting to learn striking, he’s a dangerous, dangerous man.
If either of these two – Thanh Le or Garry Tonon – go up against the featherweight king Martin Nguyen, that’s a pay-per-view match. People will pay to watch those these guys throw down. It’s the most intriguing division right now. These two guys are lined up and ready to take their shot at the king.
#4 Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga
The Philippines has its next superstar and her name is Denice Zamboanga.
In Singapore, Denice put on a show against Mei Yamaguchi, and before that she got it done against Jihin Radzuan. Now, because she beat Mei Yamaguchi in impressive fashion, she has a shot at Angela Lee.
Oh my gosh, the Philippines is going to explode when Zamboanga goes up against Lee. I can’t wait to see that match-up. I think that’s going to be absolute fireworks.
#5 Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort
I’m old-school mixed martial arts and I cannot believe that Vitor Belfort is coming to ONE Championship.
Vitor, “The Phenom,” this guy has been in the game longer than anybody. He’s a legit BJJ black belt, he’s got dangerous hands, and he knows how to put on a show. He tries to entertain the fans every single time he steps foot into the competitive arena.
Vitor will attract eyes just having him on the card. He’s talking about boxing, he’s talking about kickboxing, he could probably do Muay Thai in the small gloves, too. This guy can transcend any of the sports, and I know ONE Championship is big on multi-sport athletes.
Somebody like Vitor, even at the ripe old age of 42, is going to draw a lot of attention. A lot of eyes will be watching when he makes his debut.