Even the greatest martial arts athletes in the world have to overcome tremendous adversity in their careers.
Whether it is a major injury or illness, a damaging defeat, or a period of intense pressure, all top-level athletes face difficult situations. However, the very best always find their way through to secure victory in the face of trying circumstances.
Here, we pay tribute to those athletes, whose remarkable powers of persistence and determination helped power them to the very best comebacks of 2018.
WINNER: Singtongnoi Por Telakun
He conquered cancer and dominated his ONE debut. Singtongnoi’s next big challenge comes on 6 October!Bangkok | 6 October | 5.30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, September 23, 2018
Singtongnoi Por Telakun’s comeback eclipses anything we have seen in ONE Championship or ONE Super Series in 2018, because the Muay Thai star came back from the ultimate adversity – a battle with cancer.
Singtongnoi received his diagnosis back in August 2016, when a two-centimeter long tumor was found in his nasal cavity. The Muay Thai World Champion then put his career on hiatus to focus fully on combating the debilitating disease. He underwent 36 sessions of radiation therapy, and incredibly beat the illness.
After taking some time to recover, he made the decision to return to Muay Thai action in ONE Super Series after three long years away from competition.
His amazing career comeback took place at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in Singapore, when he defeated WBC Muay Thai Super Bantamweight World Champion Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri in a ONE Super Series flyweight bout.
Lined up against World Champion opposition, Singtongnoi looked like he had not missed a beat, as he comprehensively out-struck the Italian en route to a second-round stoppage victory.
Singtongnoi’s remarkable story serves as great inspiration not only to his peers, but to ONE Championship’s legion of fans who have seen him bounce back from the life-threatening illness, and return to the top of the martial arts world once again.
Runner-Up: Angela Lee
Last November, ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee from the EVOLVE Fight Team came close to losing everything in a horrific car crash. Thankfully she survived and is now set to make her return to the ONE Championship cage as she defends her belt on 18 May in ONE: Unstoppable Dreams at the Singapore Indoor Stadium!
Posted by Evolve MMA on Wednesday, May 16, 2018
“Unstoppable” Angela Lee saw her moniker tested to its limits in 2018. She had to deal with the considerable challenge of coming back from a life-threatening car crash, and then defend her title against the toughest rival in her career.
The crash occurred in November 2017, when she was driving to the gym for an early-morning training session. Her car rolled over several times, leaving her injured and badly shaken.
Miraculously, Lee avoided serious injury, but she still faced a lengthy road back to full bout fitness after the accident.
Lee spent the early months of 2018 working hard to recover not just her physical fitness, but her mental well-being, too. In fact, she only took her tentative first steps on the mat in January, as she began her long road to recovery.
Her comeback was completed on 18 May, when she stepped back into the ONE Championship cage to face Japan’s Mei Yamaguchi at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS. She battled back and forth with the Japanese star for five full rounds in a bout that equalled their thrilling first encounter back in 2016.
The Singaporean superstar claimed a hard-earned unanimous decision victory to retain the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship, extended her perfect professional record to 9-0, and proved that she is every bit as “Unstoppable” as her nickname suggests.
Runner-Up: Tiffany Teo
True champions possess a toughness that powers them through adversity to claim victory from the brink of defeat.
The Singaporean strawweight contender faced considerable danger on the canvas, as she found herself in difficult positions against an eight-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion in Nicolini. But on each occasion, she used her grappling defense – and trademark tenacity – to escape potential bout-ending situations.
Teo was trapped in a tight belly-down armbar in the first round, but hung on until the sound of the bell. Then, she defended capably against Nicolini’s butterfly guard in the second round.
However, in the third round Teo’s superior cardio saw her turn the bout in her favor, as she comprehensively outworked Nicolini down the stretch to claim a come-from-behind unanimous decision victory, and maintain her position as one of the top women’s strawweight contenders in ONE.
Runner-Up: Anthony Engelen
Indonesian-Dutch star Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen made a spectacular return to ONE Championship in 2018, almost two years after he last competed for the organization.
Engelen had registered back-to-back stoppage wins – a second-round submission and a first-round KO – at the end of his previous stint with ONE, and “The Archangel” returned to incredible fanfare with a pair of stunning first-round finishes in the space of just eight days.
Engelen’s return couldn’t have been much more spectacular, as he knocked out Cambodia’s Meas Meul with a stunning head kick after just 39 seconds at ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
It was as remarkable a return as we have ever seen in ONE Championship history, and one that served notice to the rest of the ONE Championship that “The Archangel” is well and truly back, and ready to make a major run towards the top of the featherweight division.