We’re only three months into the year, but 2021 has already been a bonanza for fans of spectacular knockouts.
ONE Championship’s mixed martial artists, in particular, have been prolific with their power striking, as more than half of those bouts have finished via strikes.
That meant it was tough to select just five as the cream of the crop, but after much deliberation, this quintet of KOs stood out from January through March.
#1 Kang Ji Won Vs. Amir Aliakbari
The Korean was a huge underdog, but he hit a career-defining KO in the biggest fight of his career – a main event matchup against a much-hyped debutant.
Kang was under pressure from the start, and he was tagged by some big right hands from Aliakbari and was visibly hurt.
However, the 25-year-old kept his cool in the face of that onslaught and struck back with a vengeance. When Aliakbari came in with another hammer of a right cross, Kang deftly slipped to his left and then uncorked a perfect left hook.
The shot landed on the button, and the Greco-Roman Wrestling World Champion was out cold at just 1:54 of the first round.
#2 Mark Fairtex Abelardo Vs. Emilio Urrutia
This was a clash of bantamweights who love nothing more than to stand and trade, and that’s exactly what they did for the first round and a half at ONE: FISTS OF FURY II.
Abelardo had the upper hand, but Urrutia is as tough as they come, so it looked like “Tyson” would need something special to put his foe away.
Cue a lunging, downward “tomahawk” elbow from the Kiwi-Filipino banger. An Urrutia left hand knocked Abelardo off-balance as he came forward, but not before the point of his arm clashed with his rival’s chin and knocked him out cold.
Abelardo quickly rose to finish the job, but “The Honey Badger” was saved by some spectacular refereeing from Mohamad Sulaiman, who dove in to stop any further punishment.
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#3 Ahmed Mujtaba Vs. Rahul Raju
That didn’t faze Ahmed “Wolverine” Mujtaba, who seized the perfect opportunity to counter him in a major way.
As Raju came forward with his hands low, Mujtaba dipped to his left and unleashed a 100-mph fastball of an overhand right. “The Kerala Krusher’s” chin wasn’t protected, and Mujtaba turned his lights out after just 56 seconds.
“Wolverine” is known as a submission specialist, but his first KO in the Circle proved his future opponents must respect his punching power, too.
#4 Tang Kai Vs. Ryogo Takahashi
The Chinese featherweight has been a revelation so far in The Home Of Martial Arts, and he improved his record in the Circle to an outstanding 4-0 with his biggest win yet.
This was a battle of knockout artists, so it was no surprise to see this contest end inside the distance – but it was a shock to see Tang strike so quickly.
Not even two minutes had elapsed when the 25-year-old found a home for his cross, which put Takahashi on his backside. From there, the finish was not a foregone conclusion, but Tang’s quick thinking caused the referee to jump in at the 1:59 mark.
Takahashi tried to escape danger, but Tang threw a standing hammerfist to keep him down and then finished the job with a pair of well-placed hooks.
#5 Lito Adiwang Vs. Namiki Kawahara
That all changed when the Team Lakay representative put Namiki Kawahara down with a crushing hook.
With two minutes gone in the second round, Kawahara charged forward to attack, but his momentum was reversed when he collided with “Thunder Kid’s” lightning left hand.
Adiwang was already on his way forward as his rival fell back, and he closed the show with a decisive hammerfist to pick up his third win in the Circle. All three have come via stoppage.