All the ONE Championship action from the third quarter of 2019 is in the books, during which some of the most exciting bouts of the year took place in the Circle.
There was plenty of thrilling battles that showcased powerful striking, jaw-dropping grappling exchanges, and the heart and desire of the athletes to recover from the brink of defeat to snatch dramatic victories.
These are the five best mixed martial arts match-ups, in chronological order, between July and September 2019.
#1 Ting and Abe Go Back And Forth
Pancrase Welterweight World Champion Abe used his piercing right hand to send the Kiwi-Malaysian to the canvas early in the first stanza, and he put his rival down with some deft trips when he tried to close the distance.
“E.T.” was wobbled, but his otherworldly durability meant he was able to survive, and he bit down on his mouthpiece and fired back with hard overhand rights.
Roared on by his fans in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he started to shift the balance of the encounter at the end of the opening frame, and eventually get the better of Abe in some frenetic grappling and striking exchanges after the restart.
Ting took charge when a clean right hand dropped his adversary, and then tightened the screw with ground and pound. With just 16 seconds left in the round, his punches opened up Abe’s guard, which allowed him to take the back, sink in a rear-naked choke, and extend his phenomenal winning streak in KL to 10-0.
#2 Alvarez And Folayang’s Wild 136 Seconds
It lasted less than half a round, but Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez and Eduard “Landslide” Folayang crammed an immense amount of action into their ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal match at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.
The Filipino came out firing in front of his home crowd in Manila, Philippines, and tagged Alvarez with a hard left hook, before he dropped him to the canvas with a thunderous low kick. “The Underground King” was clearly in pain, and looked to be seconds from a loss as Folayang swarmed with heavy ground and pound.
However, the American survived the onslaught and used “Landslide’s” aggression against him to hit a sweep and take top position.
Alvarez then quickly advanced and got to Folayang’s back, where he wrapped up a rear-naked choke at 2:16 to earn a dramatic from-behind win.
#3 Takenaka Wins Epic Clash Of Styles With Issa
They went back-and-forth on the ground in the opening frame as Takenaka surprised the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion with some aggressive attacks on the mat. However, Issa eventually took the initiative and controlled with his elite grappling skills.
The Evolve representative could not get a submission, though, and Takenaka grew in confidence as the bout wore on and he brought his dynamic striking attack to bear on his rival.
“Brodinho” fired back, but the Japanese athlete continued to beat him to the punch, and he closed the show in the final stanza when he leaped forward with a superman punch to drop his opponent, and then ended a fascinating tussle with a flurry of strikes on the ground.
#4 Flyweight Semifinal Spectacular
Wushu stylist Kingad tried to let his heavy strikes go in the early running, but the Australian grappler’s wrestling and BJJ acumen allowed him to take the contest to the mat and threaten with multiple submission attempts through rounds one and two.
The Team Lakay man escaped every difficult position, but with five minutes remaining, he needed to do something special to get his hand raised.
To the delight of his compatriots in the Mall Of Asia Arena, that is what he did. With a place in the tournament final at stake, he upped the intensity, took control of the positional game, and let loose with a relentless barrage of ground and pound until the final bell to take a razor-thin split decision.
#5 Rothana And Balart Leave Everything In The Circle
The Cambodian tried to land at every opportunity, but The Olympic wrestler’s close-range game was just too strong, and he threw his rival around the Circle in the first two rounds.
However, the Selapak man never lost faith in his Kun Khmer ability, and his powers of endurance gave him a late window of opportunity to claim victory. “El Gladiador’s” constant offense caused him to fade in the final round, and Rothana still had the energy to turn up the heat.
He unleashed punches, kicks, knees, and elbows in a bid to dispatch his Cuban rival, who somehow made it to the final bell. However, Rothana’s late surge was so overwhelming, it was enough to steal the judges’ scorecards and take the decision win in a contest that will be remembered in Phnom Penh for years to come.