ONE Championship’s Top 5 MMA Fights In The First Half Of 2022
The last six months have offered up a feast of excitement to the global fan base, with intense, all-action matchups going down inside the ONE Championship Circle.
The promotion’s mixed martial arts stars have produced their fair share of them, blending powerful striking, high-impact wrestling, and devastating submissions to create memorable moments.
As we look ahead to ONE 159: De Ridder vs. Bigdash on 22 July, we’re counting down the top best MMA fights of 2022 so far.
#5 Senzo Ikeda vs. Elipitua Siregar
Strawweight warriors Senzo Ikeda and Elipitua “The Magician” Siregar put on a true showcase of mixed martial arts in their three-round tussle at ONE: HEAVY HITTERS on 14 January.
Ikeda entered as a former professional boxer and Siregar as an Indonesian Wrestling Champion, but both men showed the wide-ranging elements of their skill sets as they went to war in every area.
In the opening frame, Ikeda shimmied and shuffled as he looked to pop his foe with punches behind his unorthodox movement, but “The Magician” stayed cool and fired back until he got in close.
From there, the Indonesian constantly looked for high-amplitude takedowns and scored with ground-and-pound on the mat, but his opponent would not stay still and battled to his feet every time.
As the rounds wore on, the Japanese veteran continued to find a home for his strikes, but Siregar also scored with his own punches from an ever-growing striking arsenal.
The entertaining back-and-forth fight came to a crescendo in the final frame when Ikeda launched an all-out assault on his rival’s body.
“The Magician” did his best to survive the onslaught, but the accumulation of the boxer’s hard body shots was too much – and Ikeda earned a TKO win after 12 minutes of nonstop action.
#4 Danial Williams vs. Namiki Kawahara
“Mini T” Danial Williams has enjoyed a brilliant start to 2022.
The former WMC Muay Thai World Champion switched back to MMA, knocked out former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in February, and then engaged in a competitive three-round affair with DEEP Strawweight Champion Namiki Kawahara at ONE 156 two months later.
Williams used his potent stand-up arsenal to great effect in the opening frame, tagging Kawahara with stinging leg kicks, left hooks, and straight rights. At one point, he even swept the Japanese grappling specialist off his feet.
But halfway into the stanza, Kawahara hit a double-leg takedown and threatened the striker extraordinaire with a rear-naked choke for the rest of the round.
The Team Alpha Male product began the second frame looking for another takedown, but Williams shrugged off those attempts, kept the bout upright, and took aim with his fists. “Mini T” then dropped his foe with a hard right cross and briefly tried to secure a rear-naked choke of his own.
Kawahara was willing to trade with the Aussie and eat some leg kicks in the third round, but when he saw an opening for a takedown, he went for it. Though he didn’t drag “Mini T” to the canvas, the Japanese athlete backpacked his rival and hunted for another rear-naked choke throughout the frame.
It was a dramatic turn of events, but Williams defended his opponent’s best attempts and returned to his feet in the final minute.
A wild exchange ensued, and Kawahara even landed a last-ditch takedown, but “Mini T” wouldn’t be denied, as he ultimately left the Circle with a hard-fought unanimous decision.
#3 Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Shinya Aoki
The longtime feud between Japanese legends Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama and Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki came to a head in a fascinating matchup at ONE X on 26 March.
Just like their back-and-forth war of words, the bout shifted dramatically from one direction to the other when they finally squared off inside the Circle.
Aoki closed the distance on “Sexyama” early, pushed his foe to the Circle Wall, and then climbed on his back. The iconic submission specialist has finished many opponents from that position – and it looked like another one was in the cards.
The former ONE Lightweight World Champion constantly threatened with chokes and neck cranks, never giving “Sexyama” any respite. There were several points where many lesser men would have waved the white flag – but not Akiyama.
Instead, he gritted his teeth and made it to the second round, where he fended off “Tobikan Judan’s” early attempts to repeat his first-round domination.
Buoyed by that success, Akiyama went on the hunt, repeatedly smashing his right hand into Aoki’s face.
The grappling specialist dropped to his knees, where “Sexyama” completed his extraordinary comeback with a final salvo of knees and punches to earn the finish.
#2 Angela Lee vs. Stamp Fairtex
“Unstoppable” Angela Lee has competed in some of ONE Championship’s greatest fights, and even after a long hiatus due to the birth of her daughter, she remains the queen of exciting action.
The ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion defended her belt against ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix winner Stamp Fairtex at ONE X and delivered another thrilling comeback victory.
Stamp had showcased her developing all-around MMA game by winning the tournament, but as a former kickboxing and Muay Thai queen, striking was her greatest threat against “Unstoppable.”
That was evident in round one. Lee tried to close the distance, but the challenger stayed on her feet and punished the World Champion with a ripping liver shot.
It looked like the end was near, but the durable Hawaii native somehow held on – and then flipped the script by putting Stamp to the canvas and attacking for a choke.
Similarly durable, the Fairtex product survived the frame, but Lee continued to pour on the grappling pressure in round two. She came close with a triangle choke and a twister, but the Thai star held on.
However, the dramatic battle finally came to a close when Lee cinched up a rear-naked choke with just 10 seconds to go in the second frame. Stamp had exhausted all of her options, and “Unstoppable” put everything into the squeeze and retained her crown in dramatic fashion.
#1 John Lineker vs. Bibiano Fernandes
Another intense rivalry was settled when Brazilians John “Hands of Stone” Lineker and Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes duked it out for the ONE Bantamweight World Title at ONE: LIGHTS OUT on 11 March.
Reigning king Fernandes — the most dominant World Champion in ONE history – felt disrespected by his countryman in the lead-up to their highly anticipated clash, and it led to a fiery encounter.
The BJJ specialist took Lineker down in round one and looked for openings, but when “Hands of Stone” got back to his feet, things really kicked off.
The American Top Team man waded in with heavy punches that hurt “The Flash,” but he outstayed his welcome in the pocket and got dropped with a left hook in reply.
However, Lineker recovered and found himself in top position, where he unloaded heavy ground-and-pound on the defending titleholder.
After landing another takedown and watching his man get back up again, Fernandes decided to stand and trade with the notorious knockout artist. It made for some thrilling fireworks – but it also led to defeat.
“The Flash” never backed down and landed stiff punches, but Lineker was too powerful. The challenger’s strikes accumulated until a final left hook to the jaw turned out Fernandes’ lights, giving “Hands of Stone” another memorable KO win and his first World Title.