Top 5 Breakout Stars Of 2019
2019 has been a groundbreaking year in ONE Championship, and several new faces have stepped up to the plate and put themselves at the forefront of the charge.
Established favorites have played their part, but hungry mixed martial arts, Muay Thai competitors, and kickboxing specialists have undoubtedly added their weight.
Many athletes have gone from relative obscurity to household names within a matter of months, and that is a testament to their skill, desire, and performances on the global stage.
As the year winds down, we present the Top 5 Breakout Stars Of 2019.
#1 Regian Eersel
Regian “The Immortal” Eersel entered 2019 as a hot property in the kickboxing world. The Surinamese-Dutch athlete was riding the momentum from his victory over Brad “Quake” Riddell in the first-ever ONE Super Series contest in April 2018.
However, not many could have anticipated the stranglehold that the 27-year-old would have on the lightweight division by the tail-end of the decade.
“The Immortal’ opened up his 2019 slate with a knockout win over Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS in February, and, on the strength of that performance, he booked himself a shot at the inaugural ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Championship.
The first win was impressive enough, but Holzken got an immediate rematch at ONE: DAWN OF VALOR in October and was eager to settle the score.
This time, Eersel solidified his position at the top of the division with a more resounding masterclass, and his trio of victories elevated his reputation from rising star to the best in the world.
#2 Ilias Ennahachi
As a newcomer to the world’s largest martial arts organization, Ilias “Tweety” Ennahachi had a huge task ahead of him when he took on Petchdam “The Baby Shark” Petchyindee Academy for the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD in August.
The Dutch-Moroccan was up to the challenge, and he shocked the world when he dispatched the surging Thai via knockout in the third round of their headlining tilt.
Ennahachi may have only appeared in ONE Super Series during the second half of 2019, but he quickly proved to be the flyweight division’s true king.
#3 Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat
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Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 22 November 2019
Vietnam’s “No.1” Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat was one of the prominent figures at ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH in his native Ho Chi Minh City this past September, and he announced himself to the global fanbase in style.
Duy Nhat showed that his nation’s strikers were worthy of their place in the big leagues when he knocked out Malaysia’s Azwan Che Wil in spectacular fashion.
The Vietnamese striker elevated his profile from national star to international hero, and he will be on the hunt for World Title opportunities in 2020.
#4 Thanh Le
???? IT’S GOODNIGHT, IRENE ????Thanh Le MMA knocks out former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku in the very first round!????: Check local listings for global broadcast details????: Watch on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 16 August 2019
Thanh Le’s promotional debut came in May, and by August, he was a hot contender for the ONE Featherweight World Title.
The Vietnamese-American earned a magnificent victory when he knocked out Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev at ONE: FOR HONOR, and then he took out former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku in just 88 seconds at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD.
Those back-to-back stoppage wins kept his 100-percent finishing rate alive — with nine KOs and one submission — and quickly pushed him to front of a bustling featherweight queue.
#5 Ayaka Miura
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Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 2 August 2019
Japanese grappling specialist Ayaka Miura has quickly bolstered her reputation in the world’s largest martial arts organization with a pair of impressive victories in 2019.
The Tribe Tokyo MMA representative finished two former ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title challengers, and she could be one of the biggest threats to “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan’s reign in 2020.
In February, she submitted Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin in just 73 seconds at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS. Then, at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in August, she tapped out Samara “Marituba” Santos just 39 seconds into round two.
What made her victories even more impressive was that her rivals knew what was coming, but were powerless to stop it. Miura’s scarfhold armlock is her go-to move, accounting for five finishes in her career to date. Evidently, it is still effective at the top level.
The big question is whether or not the submission hold will still be potent when she cracks into her division’s upper echelon in the coming year. That starts with her battle against Maira Mazar at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW on Friday, 10 January.