ONE Championship added dozens of top athletes to its ranks in 2018, and they jumped straight into the fray against some of the organization’s established athletes.
Some sank against the world-class talent in The Home Of Martial Arts, but others swam to establish themselves as top talents to watch – and possible World Title contenders – in 2019.
Here are five of the greatest debuts from newcomers to the global stage for martial arts in 2018.
Matsushima Stuns By Stopping Gafurov
Koyomi Matsushima drops Marat Gafurov with a HUGE and scores the knockout at 2:41 of Round 1!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, September 22, 2018
Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima entered the featherweight division at the top.
Gafurov had looked as good as ever in his previous match – a first-round dismantling of Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia – to get back to winning ways. However, the Japanese debutant was not be fazed by this task, and instead went out to land hard strikes from the opening bell.
“Moushigo” used effective footwork to draw the Russian grappler into his range, landed with punches and kicks, and even briefly secured a takedown.
Gafurov grew increasingly anxious to close the distance and stepped in with a low kick. Matsushima deftly evaded the strike before landing a crushing right hook that dropped his foe to the canvas. The follow-up punches secured a huge win for the Yokohama native.
“Moushigo” became only the second man ever to defeat Gafurov – the first was World Champion Martin Nguyen – and signaled his lofty intentions in the featherweight division.
“The Lion Killer” Showcases New Skills
Garry Tonon is out to show he's more than just a grappling expert!Singapore | 9 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelion18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, November 6, 2018
The BJJ black belt and five-time EBI champion shocked fans the world over with his approach to battle. Facing off against veteran Richard Corminal, the New Jersey man eschewed his grappling to showcase some powerful striking and dropped his foe in the opening round.
In the second, he secured a takedown and made use of some of the new weapons at his disposal on the mat. Rather than going for a submission, he punched and elbowed Corminal to garner an unexpected TKO victory.
Tonon showed that he was no one-trick pony and that he had worked hard to add new dimensions to his martial arts game.
That March debut seems a lifetime ago, as Tonon went on to become the proud owner of an unblemished 3-0 record in the world’s largest martial arts organization, with three stoppages.
Jihin’s Teenage Dream Debut
Is Jihin Malaysia's next megastar? Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan does not have the look of a dangerous mixed martial artist, but the world saw she was a force to be reckoned with in March when the then-19-year-old faced off against India’s Puja Tomar at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY.
Jihin’s 1-0 record when she entered the cage did not tell the full story of her striking experience and successful amateur run, but the global stage for martial arts was unlike anything she had experienced.
However, she rose to the occasion and made the most of her new platform. She dominated Tomar in the grappling exchanges, and threw submission attempt after submission attempt in the Indian’s direction until she eventually succumbed to an armbar midway through the second stanza.
This set the stage for a phenomenal rise to prominence for “Shadow Cat” in 2018. She finished the year with a perfect 4-0 slate, and with plenty of momentum to continue her rise.
McGuire Outclasses A Veteran
TONIGHT! Will Tyler McGuire become ONE welterweight king? Jakarta | 17 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE| Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedream18
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, November 16, 2018
You would never have known. The American dominated vast portions of the bout with his superior ground control after he either secured a takedown or a reversal on his Brazilian rival.
Santos struggled to find a way out. He could not shake the resilient 32-year-old.
McGuire also showed glimpses of his creativity with spinning kicks and diving punches off the cage. More often than not, Santos has seen everything an opponent has to offer, but not this time – he was simply overwhelmed.
The victory was so impressive, it earned McGuire a shot at the vacant ONE Welterweight World Title against Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam later in the year.
Saruta Defeats Takes On The Elite – And Wins
In a technical grappling showcase, Yosuke Saruta outduels Alex Silva to claim a unanimous decision victory!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast.
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, December 7, 2018
Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta came into ONE as a highly-regarded Shooto World Champion, which meant he was treated to a stern test in The Home Of Martial Arts.
However, the Japanese athlete could have faced few tougher opponents than former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS. It was a sink-or-swim opening assignment.
Saruta navigated the choppy waters comfortably to beat the BJJ World Champion at his own game by controlling the clinch and ground exchanges throughout their three-round battle.
Silva came at Saruta forcefully and tried his best to land strikes and secure takedowns, but “Tobizaru” was ready to combat the Evolve representative’s offense in every range.
By defeating a former World Champion by unanimous decision, Saruta quickly climbed to the top of the tree. His eyes will be on the upcoming ONE Strawweight World Title bout between Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and Hayato Suzuki, as he could be next for the winner.