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ONE Championship Stars Recall Their Favorite Memories From 2020

Jan 1, 2021

The past year has been very challenging for people across the globe.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of tragic deaths, and it led almost every single government to impose lockdown restrictions in efforts to protect their citizens.

For many, 2020 has been a year to forget – and understandably so.

But even during a dark time, there were some bright spots within the stormy clouds, and the stars of ONE Championship found some positives amid the chaos.

Before we turn the page to 2021, our martial arts heroes share some of their happiest memories from the past year.

Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang

Reinier De Ridder fights Aung La N Sang at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX on Friday, 30 October

My happiest memory was having my daughter, and watching her grow from a little newborn to now, already walking. And when I come home, she gives me the biggest smile. That’s the best thing about 2020. Having this coronavirus and having to stay home with her is probably the best thing about 2020.

“And now, in the blink of an eye, my son is a five-year-old boy. I’m only 35 and in the blink of an eye, I can remember when I was 21. Life is short. So, being able to spend this time during the pandemic, if it teaches us anything, it should teach us that life is short and we should spend time with our families and loved ones because you never know how short life is.”

Thanh Le

Thanh Le enters the ring at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW

“Coming home from Singapore after winning the belt and having my mom, dad, and my wife holding signs and balloons saying, ‘Welcome Home, Champ,’ was my happiest memory.

“It was just really nice to be with my team, who was traveling with me, and having my entire family together. Seeing my wife have a little belly bump because I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks, that was really cool, too.

“That little moment of coming down the stairs, not expecting them to be at the airport at all, and having them show up with that was my best moment.”

Superbon

Thai kickboxing star Superbon

“I was happy to have the opportunity to show my skills on the global stage of ONE Championship. It was only one time, but I hope that I will bring more to show in the new year.”

Arjan “Singh” Bhullar

Indian mixed martial artist Arjan Bhullar headshot

“My happiest memory of 2020 has to be the birth of my baby girl, Ekta. It’s a great, happy memory for me and my family. It’s something that is really meaningful to me, which goes beyond sports.”

Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy

ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy

“My happiest memory was becoming the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion and defending the World Title twice. One of my defenses was against the legend, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex. That would be my best memory of the year.”

Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat

Ritu Phogat fights Nou Srey Pov in a mixed martial arts battle at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX on Friday, 30 October

“It feels really great when your family supports you. My mother and father coming down to Singapore to watch my second ONE Championship match live was a memorable experience. Before this, my father had never watched any of my wrestling matches live, so this was the first time that he was present [for one of my competitions].”

Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi

Japanese mixed martial arts star Mei Yamaguchi is in the Circle

“My happiest memory of 2020 is that I was able to enjoy delicious meals every day.”

Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu

Japanese MMA star Yuya Wakamatsu fights South Korean phenom Kim Kyu Sung at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX II in Singapore

“The happiest memory of the last year was when I won the bout [against Kim Kyu Sung] and talked about the victory to my family. They were super excited for me, although my kid was too young to understand.”

Itsuki “Strong Heart Fighter” Hirata

Itsuki Hirata celebrates her win against Nyrene Crowley

“Last year, I had a lot of chances to get to know many people, and I felt very loved!”

Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama

Yoshihiro Akiyama makes his signature walk down the ramp at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST in China.

“The happiest thing that happened to me during 2020 is that I was still an active athlete! So in 2021, I am looking forward to seeing how my body and skill will be by my next birthday (July 29).”

Wondergirl Fairtex

The smiling Wondergirl Fairtex

“The happiest thing for me is to have such a great opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My knee injury was healed completely after I previously broke it, so I could finally focus on my Muay Thai training, and I competed twice in ONE Championship and won both fights by KO.

“I also competed in the BJJ Siam Cup Tournament 2020 and won a gold medal and two silver medals. For me, this year is not all bad. When the time is right, good things will happen to you.”

Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol

Chinese MMA star Meng Bo knocks out Indonesian MMA fighter Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX II in Singapore

“The happiest moment was definitely when I got married. It was an indescribable feeling. Maybe it had to be like that – getting married during the pandemic. I didn’t want to hold a closed wedding ceremony because I wanted to share the moment with my friends and family, but it is what it is. We might hold a bigger celebration later when the condition allows.

“We had planned this for a long while since we have been together for 11 years. We had to postpone the wedding a couple of times until we finally decided to hold it on 8 August.”

Amir Khan

Singaporean mixed martial artist Amir Khan is ready for action

“I really understand how to enjoy the present.

“In the past, I’ve always looked forward to the future, always wanting the future to happen so I can have a better life or enjoy life more. But right now, I learned how to enjoy the moment more. That was a big, big change in my mindset, and a big change in my growth, just simply enjoying the present. I try to live every moment, enjoy every moment, every day. This is what 2020 has taught me.

“I always knew family was important, but because of this pandemic, you’re only seeing your family and your close friends. I feel we should cherish each other more. And also, because of my dad’s diagnosis, it’s like no matter how much money you earn, I feel like health and family is the most important thing in the world.”

Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian

Stefer Rahardian makes his return

“My sweetest memory of 2020 would be getting the call to fight again, but being struck by an injury.

“After going back to Jakarta for surgery, I had a chance to spend some time with my mother. And at the time of the pandemic and lockdown, I was able to pay back the time I spent away from her. So, I hope with me spending my lost time with her, I earn good karma, and I’m able to attain more in ONE Championship.”

“The Terminator” Sunoto

"The Terminator" Sunoto enters the arena in Jakarta, Indonesia

“I only had one fight in February, and then the global pandemic started. I am happy to have earned another win in 2020.

“Apart from that, I am also delighted to establish my Terminator Top Team, which aims to create the next generation of martial artists from my hometown of Blora in Central Java. So, it’s like a blessing in disguise, and I can focus on developing this team and recruit as many talents as possible.”

Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio

MMA fighter Geje Eustaquio squares off against Song Min Jong in the main event of ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III

“My best memory of 2020 is my engagement with [my now-fiancée] Rose. She said yes! There’s still no date, though. Of course, another favorite of mine is that I managed to pull out a victory before the year ended.”

Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang

Japanese MMA fighter Hiroba Minowa squares off against Filipino MMA fighter Lito Adiwang at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX III

“The happiest memory of my 2020 is, of course, how we got together as a family just to get through the pandemic. Despite the pandemic, we were all together. “

Rene “The Challenger” Catalan

MMA fighter Rene Catalan enters the Singapore Indoor Stadium

“First of all, I’m most grateful for the fact that throughout the hardships, God was always with us. Then, my favorite memory of 2020 is when I was given a chance to compete again in ONE Championship. It was still a good experience [regardless of the result]. It won’t happen again.”

“Macho” Fajar

Indonesia's "Macho" Fajar makes his promotional debut

“2020 has been filled with joy and sadness. I was happy to make my debut in ONE Championship, but there are sorrows that I had to endure, too. This year feels so short. Just right after my debut [at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE,] the pandemic started.

“Regardless, I took care of my late father when he was sick. I was always by his side in his last moments before he left us forever. If not because of the pandemic, I might not have been able to accompany him.

“All of all, I am grateful for being able to compete in ONE Championship and to be by his side in his last moments with us.”

Read more: The Top 5 ONE Super Series Fighters Of 2020

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