ONE Championship’s roster of world-class mixed martial artists delivered on all fronts in 2019, and they stepped up to help produce the promotion’s busiest and most successful year on record.
Some, however, stood out from their peers due to their consistently impressive performances and sensational highlight-reel victories.
These heroic athletes took on all comers, and they used those battles as precious opportunities to showcase their skills and elevate themselves to new heights.
In consideration of those achievements, we present the Top 5 Mixed Martial Arts Warriors Of 2019.
#1 Christian Lee
This past January, the Singaporean opened up his slate by earning some redemption against Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY. After an unfortunate disqualification in the previous year, he finished the Filipino via TKO in the first round of their featherweight tilt.
Lee’s 2019 was sent into overdrive when he was called out by friend and former training partner Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki just minutes after the Japanese legend reclaimed the ONE Lightweight World Championship at ONE: A NEW ERA in March.
When the pair squared off at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON in May, “The Warrior” was forced to endure a dangerous armbar attempt from the titleholder in the opening stanza. He made it through to the second frame, and then he blasted Aoki with punches to knock him out and claim the gold.
Then, the Singaporean patiently waited for the conclusion of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix to determine his first challenger. However, injury woes left a space in the tournament finale and, incredibly, he answered the call just 17 days out from October’s ONE: CENTURY PART I.
He tore through the rampaging Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev over the course of three rounds to win the silver ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Championship belt.
Lee has matured before our very eyes. At only 21 years old, he moved up a weight class and won the two most important titles in his division. And, from the sounds of it, this is just the beginning.
#2 Aung La N Sang
Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang cemented his status as the king of the heavier weight classes with successful defenses of both his middleweight and light heavyweight crowns.
The hard-hitting duo engaged in a thrilling two-round contest, but “The Burmese Python” ended it emphatically with another second-round TKO to hand the Filipino-American his first defeat in the world’s largest martial arts organization.
#3 Martin Nguyen
Reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen solidified his dominance of the division with back-to-back finishes over the top contenders.
Nguyen’s decision to relinquish the ONE Lightweight World Title to focus his efforts in his more natural weight division was clearly the right one, and his move to Hard Knocks 365 and Sanford MMA in the USA paid off in style.
#4 Demetrious Johnson
One of the greatest competitors of all time — Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson — made his highly-anticipated debut in The Home Of Martial Arts and showed exactly why he dominated the North American scene for so long.
Johnson made his first appearance in the opening round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix against Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu at ONE: A NEW ERA, and he took the Japanese star’s best shots to come back and win via submission in the second round.
The American topped off his year when he put on a clinic against Danny “The King” Kingad at ONE: CENTURY PART I to win the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship belt and the next shot at the division’s reigning king, Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes, in 2020.
#5 Kiamrian Abbasov
Kyrgyz star Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov used 2019 to establish himself as the welterweight division’s top contender, and then he made the most of the opportunity when he got the chance to challenge for the gold.
He took out Japanese legend Yushin “Thunder” Okami via TKO at ONE: FOR HONOR in May to stake his claim for the next crack at Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam’s belt.
Abbasov then raised his game to another level when he squared off against the Swede at ONE: DAWN OF VALOR in October. He dominated Kadestam in every range en route to a five-round shutout on the judges’ scorecards.
“Brazen” made it clear that he was the division’s best warrior with that performance. As a result, he will enter 2020 as the ONE Welterweight World Champion.
Read more: Top 5 ONE Super Series Warriors Of 2019