ONE Championship has always put on world-class events, and one thing that’s never changed is the likelihood of explosive knockouts at every show.
The year 2020 maintained that trend thanks to the addition of established knockout artists, red-hot form from renowned finishers, and even some athletes discovering the kind of stopping power we’d never seen from them.
These are the top five knockouts of 2020 from ONE’s mixed martial arts stars.
#1 Thanh Le Knocks Out Martin Nguyen
There was no doubt that Thanh Le had the potential to finish featherweight king Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, but the way he did it at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX in October was both shocking and special.
In the ONE Featherweight World Title affair between athletes from Vietnamese backgrounds, it was the Australia-based defending World Champion who appeared most likely to score a finishing blow.
Nguyen had taken control of the Circle and was piling on the pressure in the third round, but the tables turned in a split-second when the challenger landed on the button.
A Le straight right caught “The Situ-Asian” clean on the chin as the reigning king stepped in to strike – and that blow signaled the beginning of the end.
Nguyen was reeling and fell to his knees, while the challenger swarmed.
For a moment, it looked like Le might have missed his golden opportunity as his rival slipped a few heavy shots, but “The Situ-Asian” soon absorbed another left hook flush on the jaw and dropped to the canvas again.
Nguyen showed huge heart to rise again, but Le was ready to pounce with his trademark power and accuracy. A thudding left hook staggered the champion, and a thunderous right uppercut ripped the belt from his grasp.
Le claimed the ONE Featherweight World Title with his fourth knockout win in ONE, and this was the best of that bunch, by far.
#2 Bokang Masunyane Knocks Out Rene Catalan
We knew Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane had a flair for the spectacular, but he’d mostly won fights by dominating with high-amplitude takedowns.
Though his striking was sometimes highlight-reel worthy, the South African had never knocked anyone out in his perfect 7-0 run leading into 2020.
The Filipino barely dropped his guard for a second as he was retreating from a failed double-leg takedown attempt, but that was all Masunyane needed to land a stunning left high kick.
After the perfect kick, “Little Giant” stepped forward to strike with ground-and-pound, but he pulled his punches because Catalan was already out cold after just 37 seconds.
#3 Yoshihiro Akiyama Knocks Out Sherif Mohamed
Sherif “The Shark” Mohamed came into the Circle with a plan to charge forward with looping shots, but Akiyama was ready to box off the back foot.
Faced with the oncoming Egyptian, the Japanese icon stayed ice-cold, picked his strikes, and soon landed the perfect punch.
As Mohamed attempted yet another blitz, Akiyama glided away from danger and snuck a right hook over his opponent’s left arm to connect on his chin.
The impact sent “The Shark” crashing to the canvas, and a perfectly placed right hand then sealed the deal for “Sexyama” in the first round.
#4 Meng Bo Knocks Out Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol
That appearance came at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX II in November, where the Chinese atomweight faced an accomplished striker in Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol. Still, Meng barely broke a sweat as she walked her foe down and unleashed heavy hands.
As Lumban Gaol moved forward, Meng effortlessly parried her opponent’s jab and countered with a right cross. That strike scored a direct hit and absolutely flattened the Indonesian.
Meng quickly followed her rival to the canvas and sealed the deal with some heavy blows, forcing the referee to rush in and rescue Lumban Gaol.
#5 John Lineker Knocks Out Kevin Belingon
However, both are renowned for their high finishing rates, so someone’s granite chin was bound to be cracked.
In the end, it was not a shot to the jaw that closed the show in this clash of elite bantamweights – it was a thudding strike to the temple.
Lineker seemed to have hurt Belingon with a body shot, but the Filipino toughed that one out. However, when one of the Brazilian’s ham-sized fists went upside his head, “The Silencer” could not stay standing.
With his head down, Belingon was a sitting duck for a huge right uppercut. He went down after a delayed reaction, and a short salvo of ground-and-pound strikes finished the job to make Lineker the #1-ranked bantamweight contender.
Read more: The Top 5 Submissions Of 2020