2021 got off to a rip-roaring start with the UNBREAKABLE and FISTS OF FURY event series, which included plenty of memorable submission victories.
The mixed martial arts battles — which were all held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from January through March — gave grapplers of all stripes a platform to showcase their acumen on the canvas.
Here, we relive the five finest submission victories in ONE Championship since the calendar flipped.
#1 Aoki Gives Nakashima A Spine Realignment
The legendary grappler earned ONE Championship’s top spot for career submission finishes when Nakashima became his eighth victim after just 2:42 of the opening frame.
Aoki worked his way into the bout-ending position when he initiated the clinch off his rival’s jab-cross. He tied the American up and pushed him to the Circle Wall before deftly shrugging his way out to the back.
“Tobikan Judan” latched on with a single hook to begin his attack while Nakashima did his best to fight off the choking arm. The Japanese star climbed on board regardless, cinched up a body triangle, and freed his right arm from the wrestler’s grasp.
From there, it was textbook Aoki.
Nakashima tried to keep his chin tucked, but “Tobikan Judan” went straight across his jaw instead and locked onto his left bicep. This grip contorted the American’s neck, and as soon as the former ONE Lightweight World Champion applied his crushing squeeze, it was game over.
#2 Abdulaev Taps Out Kadestam In Stunning Debut
As far as debuts go, Gadzhimurad Abdulaev could not have asked for more when he submitted former ONE Welterweight World Champion Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam at ONE: UNBREAKABLE — and he only needed 2:08 to do it.
The ONE Warrior Series graduate had a tough first task on the global stage, yet he passed it with ease. Abdulaev ran his foe down off a kick inside the first minute and immediately controlled “The Bandit’s” back when he tried to escape.
The Russian then locked in his body triangle and set to work on the finish. He softened Kadestam up with punches and clamped his left forearm across his rival’s face.
With a palm-to-palm grip, Abdulaev dialed up the pressure on “The Bandit’s” cheek and jaw to force the tap from the painful-looking face crank.
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- Abdulaev Eyeing Alvarez, Abbasov After Massive Debut Win
#3 Olsim Gets Past Mazar With Power Guillotine
Olsim’s striking was her biggest weapon for much of the match, but her route to victory came with a slick power guillotine submission.
Mazar initiated the clinch before a flurry of straight punches, but as she latched onto Olsim’s leg to look for a takedown, she neglected to protect her neck. The Filipina slipped her right arm underneath the Brazilian’s chin and fed her head into the left bicep.
Knowing she was in danger, the Evolve representative dragged things to the ground in an attempt to defend. Still, Olsim stayed glued to her attack and rolled Mazar over – with the added pressure quickly drawing out the Brazilian’s white flag.
#4 ‘The Prodigy’ Dominates Srisen
With World Champion siblings “Unstoppable” Angela Lee and Christian “The Warrior” Lee, 16-year-old Victoria “The Prodigy” Lee garnered a lot of attention when she debuted at ONE: FISTS OF FURY on 26 February.
The Hawaii-based rising star proceeded to back up the hype, as she dominated the first round of her bout against Sunisa “Thunderstorm” Srisen before getting the finish early in round two.
After a back-and-forth striking exchange, the pair clinched against the Circle Wall. Lee tumbled her Thai rival to the mat and shrugged her head out of a headlock to secure back control. From there, “The Prodigy” instantly fed her right arm under Srisen’s neck to look for the rear-naked choke.
With her arms in position, Lee dropped her hips to flatten “Thunderstorm” out and then squeezed with all her might to earn a magnificent victory in her inaugural showing on the global stage.
#5 Sawada Chokes Out Catalan In Opening Round
With a minute gone in the strawweight contest, Sawada caught Catalan’s push kick and forced him to the floor with a single-leg takedown. The Filipino used his guard to stay safe and regain his feet, but he would not be so fortunate the second time around.
“Dragon Boy” took his opponent down again, this time passing straight to side control. The Japanese man quickly moved to the mount position and then anticipated Catalan’s roll to climb onto his back.
“The Ilonggo” tried to squirm free, but to no avail. Instead, Sawada threaded his right arm under his rival’s neck and locked in the bout-ending rear-naked choke at 4:13 to claim his eighth career submission win.