Singapore has quickly established itself as a hub in Asia’s vast mixed martial arts scene.
Over the past several years, a plethora of local athletes have emerged to put “The Lion City” on the map with a slew of highlight-reel moments and even some World Title-winning performances.
These heroes have inspired a new generation of martial artists, and they’ve continued to find success in ONE Championship. Some might say they are just getting started.
Here are five of the greatest victories from Singapore’s finest on the global stage.
Lee Proves She’s ‘Unstoppable’ In Singapore
ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee has put forth many signature performances in The Home Of Martial Arts, but her best effort may have come against two-time Muay Thai World Champion Istela Nunes at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES in May 2017.
On the surface, the atomweight queen seemed fine as she walked to the Circle in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but just a week before, she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia. In fact, just minutes before the bout, Lee had been vomiting in the locker room.
Despite her health issues, she wanted to prove herself as an “Unstoppable” champion that night, and she certainly did so against Nunes.
Lee negated the Brazilian’s Muay Thai attack in the opening frame by closing the distance with her strikes and tossing her to the ground with a headlock takedown. Though Nunes tried to escape, “Unstoppable” took her back, went for a rear-naked choke, and even attempted a twister.
Though Nunes opened up more with her strikes in the second round, Lee caught a leg kick and took her to the mat. The Brazilian tried returning to her feet, but “Unstoppable” grabbed onto a headlock position, secured an anaconda choke, threw knees to her rival’s head, and tried to pull her to the ground.
Finally, Lee hit an outside leg trip that forced Nunes to the canvas and kept applying more and more pressure. As the hold got tighter, the Brazilian simply couldn’t go on much longer and eventually tapped out.
‘The Warrior’ Stuns A Legend In World Title Win
The odds seemed to be stacked against Christian “The Warrior” Lee.
In May 2019, the Singaporean moved up from featherweight to challenge Japanese mixed martial arts legend and then-reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki for the belt at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON in “The Lion City.”
Although the two had previously trained together at Evolve, Lee quickly found out the hard way that his old friend hadn’t taught him everything he knew.
Just seconds after the opening bell rang, Aoki worked for a takedown and pressured the local hero on the mat. As Lee tried to kick off the ropes in an effort to escape the icon’s grasp, “Tobikan Judan” used his momentum to execute an armbar. The Japanese legend torqued “The Warrior’s” arm into unnatural positions, but Lee managed to escape the round.
The Singaporean then shook off the pain and entered the second frame more determined than ever. He defended Aoki’s takedown attempts, backed him toward the corner, and rocked him with a right cross to the face and a straight left to the jaw.
“The Warrior” continued unloading a barrage of punches onto the falling legend, causing the referee to stop the contest and award the victory – along with the ONE Lightweight World Title – to the hometown star.
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Khan Submits A Former World Champion
The Singaporean went toe-to-toe with former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario, who entered the lightweight contest on a dazzling five-bout win streak.
It first appeared the match-up would be a slugfest between two renowned knockout artists, as they exchanged heavy strikes in the opening minute and a half. But as the Filipino wushu stylist charged forward with a combination, Khan ducked a punch and hit a smooth double-leg takedown.
Though Banario returned to his feet and marched forward with more combos, Khan was determined to put his Team Lakay rival on the mat. “The Rock” shrugged off a single-leg, but the Singaporean latched onto his back and forced him to the canvas.
Khan put in a hook and searched for the rear-naked choke, but Banario initially defended well. Following some hand fighting, Khan cleverly looked to pin down the Filipino’s left arm with his left leg. And once “The Rock” pushed the limb away, the Evolve product used the distraction to sink his right arm under the chin.
At that point, Khan locked up the hold and forced his opponent to tap in front of a capacity crowd in Shanghai, China.
Teo Stops The ‘Zombie’
Tiffany “No Chill” Teo proved she was one of the top women’s strawweight mixed martial artists on the planet with her stellar performance against third-degree black belt judoka Ayaka “Zombie” Miura at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE in “The Lion City” this past February.
Miura found a way to immediately bring the Singaporean to the canvas and worked toward the scarf-hold position. Once there, “Zombie” tried securing her trademark Americana – which she had used to submit her previous three foes in The Home Of Martial Arts – but Teo clasped her hands around the Japanese star’s waist, rolled onto her knees, and stood up to escape the position.
Although Miura continued with her relentless grappling attack and tried for repeated scarf-hold Americana and arm-triangle attempts, “No Chill” found ways to defend against the submissions.
Teo’s defense looked much crisper in the second stanza, and when “Zombie” grabbed an arm and surrendered her back for a takedown attempt, the Singaporean made her pay by peppering Miura’s face with her free hand. With the Japanese athlete tiring, Teo started to take complete control. She tenderized Miura with head kicks, leg kicks, jabs, left hooks, and straight rights.
In the third frame, “No Chill” continued to shrug off Miura’s takedown attempts and pick her apart with strikes. A desperate single-leg takedown attempt from “Zombie” in the closing seconds of the contest proved to be her downfall. Teo sprawled, unloaded punches and elbows to the head and body, and forced the referee to wave off the action.
A ‘Mighty’ Debut
It's not over till it's over. Singapore | 24 November | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onepursuit17
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, 14 November 2017
“Mighty” May Ooi had a difficult first assignment on the global stage.
The Olympic swimmer reignited the longstanding Singapore-Malaysia rivalry when she made her promotional debut against respected veteran Ann “Athena” Osman at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in August 2017. Despite entering the Circle at age 41, “Mighty” proved to be superior that night in Kuala Lumpur and finished her opponent inside a single round.
At first, Osman appeared to have the edge. The Malaysian dropped her cross-region adversary to the canvas with a massive overhand right hook, followed her to the ground, and unloaded heavy ground and pound.
Ooi remained calm and returned to her stance, but “Athena” continued to clinch with her, apply pressure against the Circle Wall, and throw knees when the opportunity presented itself.
Two minutes into the match, however, the tide turned. The Singaporean used Osman’s momentum against her and tossed her to the ground. Ooi then got into side control and dropped short elbows to the side of the head, though “Athena” returned to her feet and continued to pressure “Mighty” against the Circle Wall.
But Ooi found the space to wrap her arms around the Malaysian, drag her away from the Circle Wall, toss her forward, and latch onto her back. From there, she utilized her jiu-jitsu advantage, cinched up a rear-naked choke, and forced Osman to submit.