ONE Championship’s world-class mixed martial artists delivered the goods with some spectacular performances at the close of 2019.
When the stakes were high, they put everything on the line and showed their heart, skill, and passion to gain decisive victories against elite rivals.
Here are their five most inspiring performances from the fourth quarter of the year.
#1 Abbasov Dominates To Win His First World Title
Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov was in impeccable form when he took the ONE Welterweight World Championship gold from Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam at ONE: DAWN OF VALOR in Jakarta, Indonesia this past October.
The Kyrgyz warrior bested the defending titleholder over the course of five rounds to lift the crown. The most impressive aspect of his victory was his success in every range — even in the stand-up, where he courageously went toe-to-toe with the feared Muay Thai expert.
Abbasov constantly worked on the front foot against Kadestam, blasted him with strong punches, wrestled him to the canvas with takedowns, and dominated on the ground.
With 25 minutes in the books, it was clear Abbasov was going to be the division’s new ruler after an incredible showing of mixed martial arts.
#2 Lee Claims A Second Lightweight Belt
In an unprecedented move, ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee stepped into the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Final against Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev at ONE: CENTURY PART I.
With just 10 days’ notice, the Singaporean superstar replaced “The Underground King” Eddie Alvarez on the bill in Tokyo, Japan in October, and left with a resounding victory.
“Dagi” had ripped through all of his rivals to reach the final, but he rarely worried Lee in their three-round battle, as the Evolve and United MMA product dictated the action.
“The Warrior” used a wrestling and ground offensive to pummel the powerful Turkish athlete. He repeatedly took Arslanaliev to the mat and worked to dominant positions, where he overwhelmed him with strikes en route to a one-sided unanimous decision victory and the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship Title.
#3 McLaren’s Overwhelming Grappling Attack
It is not easy to come back from consecutive defeats, especially when the level of competition remains high. But Reece “Lightning” McLaren did it in emphatic fashion against Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia earlier this month.
Though it was over in a single round, the Australian was in the ascendency every moment of the contest. He subdued Mangat early with a takedown, and then he punished his Indian rival with smashing top control and ground and pound.
“Lightning” capped a flawless victory with a slick finish, as he wrapped up “Saint Lion” with a tight rear-naked choke to end a tough year on a high.
#4 Silva Survives Early Scare To Finish Peng
Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva had to show both his durability and his skill to overcome a tough challenge from Chinese wrestling sensation Peng Xue Wen at ONE: EDGE OF GREATNESS in Singapore last month.
The Brazilian was fully tested by Peng’s powerful punches and defensive wrestling in the opening frame, but he rebounded from getting wobbled by the Chinese athlete and took control of the match-up.
Silva dominated in round two. He hit a pair of takedowns, with the second leading to a clinical finish. “Little Rock” mounted his foe and — with seconds to spare — executed his patented armbar submission, which earned him a World Title shot in the process.
#5 Catalan KOs Balart In Strong Showing
There was no shortage of action when Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan took on Gustavo “El Gladiador” Balart on the preliminary card of ONE: MASTERS OF FATE in his native Manila last month, but the Filipino striker grabbed a career-best victory in the second frame.
Balart — who represented Cuba in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games — posed a stern threat to “The Ilonggo” with his takedown prowess. Catalan’s spirit, however, would not be broken.
The Catalan Fighting System representative committed to every strike he threw, and “El Gladiador” fired straight back. Still, he ripped his powerful kicks to the body, and later, he took aim with a right high kick and became the first man to KO the teak-tough Balart in his ONE tenure.
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