The Circle saw a ton of tremendous displays of skill in the past three months, but a few from ONE Championship’s mixed martial arts stars stood out above the rest.
Some athletes completely dominated their rivals to emerge with barely a mark on them, while others showed huge improvement to reach a new level in their career with wins against tough opponents that demonstrated their ability in every facet of the sport.
These are the best mixed martial arts performances for July, August, and September.
#1 Worthen’s Dominant Debut
Though he was up against a dangerous opponent in “The Ghost” Chen Rui, the American looked like he was on another level as he neutralized the Chinese athlete’s striking by picking him up and slamming him onto the ground.
From there, he unleashed a relentless barrage of ground and pound that his rival had little answer for.
Chen deserves credit for surviving for as long as he did, but that is all he could do, and by the 3:29 mark of round two, a final salvo of elbows left referee Olivier Coste no choice but to jump in and rescue him.
It was a near-flawless display from the 26-year-old, who looks like he will be a threat to the bantamweight elite in the months and years to come.
#2 Nakashima Stays Perfect
The American overcame the judo black belt with his wrestling early on, and came close to a submission in the first round.
He then showed off the striking he has honed alongside ONE Super Series’ Petrosyan brothers with a second-round knockdown to take command of the contest, and he stayed in the lead until the final bell.
Any time it looked like “Thunder” was starting to have any success with his striking or grappling, Nakashima stayed defensively sound, and then turned the tables to throw more offense, and leave no doubt that he deserved a unanimous decision.
#3 Park Enters The Elite
“Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Park’s defeat of Honorio “The Rock” Banario by unanimous decision was impressive for so many reasons.
First, it was the most high-profile win of his career against a former ONE World Champion. Second, he did it in front of the Filipino’s home crowd at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES. Third, he did it just three weeks after his previous match, in which he defeated Kimihiro Eto via KO.
The South Korean started well when he put Banario on the canvas and unleashed ground and pound that looked like it was close to finishing the contest. However, the Team Lakay representative is made of tough stuff, and he weathered the storm to come back by the end of round one, and throughout the second stanza.
Despite any fatigue he may have had from his active schedule, Park found a second wind in the final period as he dominated in the clinch and hit his rival with more significant strikes to eke out a unanimous decision.
If this is what he is capable of when he is not 100-percent fresh, it will be fascinating to see him against some of the lightweight elite with a full training camp behind him.
#4 Nguyen’s Emphatic World Title Defense
Koyomi Matsushima was billed as his toughest, most well-rounded opponent to date, and he put the Vietnamese-Australian to the test in the opening minutes by scoring with takedowns, and with aggressive striking on the feet.
However, Nguyen was not fazed by being put on the back foot, and by the end of the first round, he had started to stuff his challenger’s shots and respond with heavy blows.
He gradually turned up the pressure after the restart and continued to find a home for his punches, kicks, and knees. With seconds to go until the bell, Matsushima’s energy was already spent, and “The Situ-Asian” closed the show with some more big shots to win by knockout.
#5 Stamp’s Triumphant Return To Mixed Martial Arts
Against India’s Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka, the two-sport ONE World Champion has some success in the stand-up, but then sprung a surprise by taking the contest to the mat in the first round.
From there, she passed guard and dominated with ground and pound, as well as submission attempts. The second stanza contained more of what we are used to from the Thai hero, but she went back to her grappling within 30 seconds of the final period.
She stayed patient, softened her rival up with punches, then secured a rear-naked choke to seal the win and send a warning to the rest of the women’s atomweight division.