In less than six months, Ok Rae Yoon went from a little-known ONE Championship newcomer to a reigning divisional king.
With incredible fortitude and a near-invincible chin, the South Korean sensation delivered three straight upset victories over elite opponents to emerge as the ONE Lightweight World Champion and ONE’s 2021 Male Fighter of the Year.
Ahead of this massive grudge match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, let’s revisit Ok’s magical run to the ONE Lightweight World Title.
A Stellar Debut Against Marat Gafurov
Ok’s grit was put to test from the moment he first stepped inside the Circle at “ONE on TNT III” last April.
That evening, he was matched up with former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov – one of the best grapplers in all of MMA.
But while the Russian BJJ black belt has earned seven submission wins, that pedigree proved futile against Ok’s frustrating defense.
The Team Mad fighter had no problems foiling Gafurov’s submission attempts, as he frustrated the veteran throughout their three-round clash.
Meanwhile, the South Korean picked his spots and kept his opponent at bay with well-timed strikes and the occasional grappling control.
In the end, that dominance earned Ok a unanimous decision win, the #5 lightweight contender ranking, and a date with a mixed martial arts legend.
A Shocking Upset Of Eddie Alvarez
Despite their tendencies to start slowly, it appeared that both athletes wanted to take each other’s heads off early on.
In fact, Ok nearly ended the match in the first round when he clocked “The Underground King” with a short straight punch before pouncing in for some hellacious ground-and-pound.
Alvarez, who previously held lightweight gold in the UFC and Bellator, tried to push the action in the second frame, but Ok’s tenacity stopped the American from gaining much momentum.
And in the third, the South Korean continued to defend Alvarez’s takedown attempts while putting his stamp on the showdown with some methodical striking.
Ultimately, that was enough to score a tight unanimous decision win, and the result turned heads across the combat sports world.
Dethrones Christian Lee To Claim World Title Gold
Those victories propelled Ok into a ONE Lightweight World Title challenge of Lee, and his patented perseverance was on display in their main event contest at ONE: REVOLUTION in September 2021.
In round two, Lee grabbed Ok for a dangerous standing choke, but the Team Mad fighter was able to shrug off the submission attempt before clocking the defending champ with a couple of knee strikes.
Then in the fourth, Ok changed gears and went on the offensive. After staying patient during the early rounds, he put Lee on the back foot while trying to land some flying knees.
When those high-risk attacks failed to connect, Ok settled for the Muay Thai clinch to land the devastating knee strikes that he was looking for.
It was a closely fought bout, but in the end, the South Korean got his arm raised and wrapped the ONE Lightweight World Title around his waist.