The mixed martial arts stars of ONE Championship had fewer opportunities to compete in 2020, but they still delivered spectacular submission finishes when given the chance.
While the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered as the main story of the year, dozens of athletes in the world’s largest martial arts organization grabbed control of their own destiny with fantastic grappling displays on the global stage.
From shocking World Title-winning chokes to never-seen-before joint locks, here are the five best submissions in ONE Championship this year.
#1 De Ridder Chokes Out Aung La To Claim Gold
Reinier “The Dutch Knight” De Ridder might have shocked the world with his first-round submission victory over Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, but he did not surprise himself.
The Breda native predicted he would choke out “The Burmese Python” en route to winning the ONE Middleweight World Championship, and he did exactly that in Singapore last October.
After eating a hard uppercut from the defending middleweight king in the early running of the match, De Ridder quickly tripped Aung La N Sang to the canvas and immediately secured the back-control position.
The Myanmar superstar defended well for almost three minutes and kept “The Dutch Knight’s” offense at bay, but he could not stop it altogether.
De Ridder kept Aung La N Sang trapped with a suffocating body triangle and, just when it seemed like his rival might stand up to escape, the Dutchman used the ensuing scramble to throw his right arm around “The Burmese Python’s” neck.
The challenger crushed the reigning king’s jaw with a short choke at first, and he kept up the pressure until his forearm slid under the chin and into the perfect position to earn the tap — and the ONE Middleweight World Title.
#2 Lapicus Gives Gafurov A Taste Of His Own Medicine
Lapicus battered Gafurov with leg kicks until the Russian shot for a takedown in desperation. The Moldovan defended the initial attempt and then countered with a high-impact harai goshi throw that drove his foe into the canvas.
As “Cobra” rolled with the momentum of the throw, he opened up a route to his back — and Lapicus took it. The Team Petrosyan representative jumped his hooks into place to control the Russian and then quickly worked his left arm under his rival’s chin.
Finally, Lapicus connected his left hand to his right bicep to secure the choke and then squeezed until the consciousness drained out of the former ONE Featherweight World Champion.
What’s more, it took the Moldovan a total of 67 seconds to get the job done.
#3 Adiwang Displays Grappling Power Against Mitsatit
Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang has been recognized more for his powerful striking repertoire than for his submission game, but he proved to be equally adept at finishing things on the ground against Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit at ONE: FIRE AND FURY in January.
After some early success in the stand-up exchanges, the Team Lakay man took his Thai rival to the canvas and into a dominant scarf-hold position, but Mitsatit escaped and worked to Adiwang’s back.
As “The Smiling Assassin” held on to a body lock to find an opening for a takedown, Adiwang started to set up his finish. He wrapped his right arm over Mitsatit’s right elbow and locked up a figure-four grip.
With his hold set, “Thunder Kid” rolled to the canvas and on top of the Tiger Muay Thai representative. He had to work hard to wrench “The Smiling Assassin’s” arm away from his body, but when Adiwang stepped over his foe’s head, he increased his ability to crank on the kimura and got a hurried tap from the wincing Mitsatit.
#4 Saputra Unveils Creative Shoulder Lock
Eko Roni Saputra took his time dismantling Murugan “Wolverine” Silvarajoo in the striking department at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES in October. And after putting in that work, he took the Malaysian to the canvas with a well-timed double-leg takedown.
The Indonesian wrestling sensation moved straight into side control and freed his head from “Wolverine’s” grip. Saputra then controlled Silvarajoo with an underhook and looked for potential options on his foe’s left arm.
When they weren’t forthcoming, he decided to get creative.
The Evolve athlete stuffed “Wolverine’s” right arm behind his calf to trap it into place. From there, he applied pressure with his hips and pushed down on the Malaysian’s elbow to put immense pressure on the shoulder joint.
Silvarajoo tapped out from the painful, unorthodox hold. The Malaysian – and fans of ONE – were simply baffled that a submission had come from that position.
#5 Andrade Transitions At Speed To Strangle Abelardo
While most of the bout between Fabricio “Wonder Boy” Andrade and Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo was waged on the feet, a moment of brilliance from the Brazilian earned him a standout victory on the ground at ONE: NO SURRENDER in July.
Abelardo tried to pressure Andrade in the second round and grabbed “Wonder Boy’s” leg after a front kick to the gut. “Tyson” held on and tried to drag his opponent to the mat, but Andrade angled away from the attack and ended up on top of the turtled Filipino-Kiwi.
“Wonder Boy” then started to sneak his left arm under Abelardo’s chin as he put his hooks in to take back control. While he secured the position, his arm was already deep into the danger zone, and the Fairtex athlete was simply too late with his defenses.
Andrade’s vice-like squeeze drained away any attempt by Abelardo to save himself, as he was rendered unconscious from the rapid rear-naked choke.