ONE Championship’s world-class martial artists have delivered some incredible performances inside the Circle at the start of 2020.
When the pressure was on, the athletes did not back down – whether they went into battle under Muay Thai, kickboxing, or mixed martial arts rules – and many emerged with career-defining victories thanks to their displays of courage and skill.
Here are the five most impressive showings on the global stage from January to March.
#1 Sam-A Shows His Greatness
Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao showed that he is still at the top of his game when he dominated rising star Rocky Ogden to win the ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Championship at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE.
Ogden’s youthful verve and punching power were seen as threats to Sam-A, but he dealt with it comfortably over five rounds.
Sam-A looked as fast and as slick as ever as he slipped the young Australian’s strikes and responded with punishing counter shots.
Though the Evolve representative is 16 years older than Ogden, he had the energy to find another gear in the championship rounds. He kept pushing hard until the final bell and landed with almost every weapon in his arsenal to claim his third ONE Super Series World Title.
#2 Zamboanga Punches Ticket To Title Shot
A new ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title challenger emerged at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE as Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga leaped up into contention with a victory against one of the division’s top talents in Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi has pushed World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee to her limits and razor-close decisions after five rounds twice, yet when she faced “The Menace,” she was controlled for the lion’s share of the contest.
The Filipina took command of the striking exchanges with her boxing and surprised “V.V.” by getting the better of the grappling exchanges. Zamboanga fended off all of Yamaguchi’s submission attempts and even blasted her with strikes on the ground to extend the lead she had earned on the feet.
The winning performance impressed ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong enough for him to award her the next shot at the gold as soon as the final bell rang.
#3 Rodtang Crushes Haggerty In Bangkok
After their epic, back-and-forth first encounter, most fans expected a similarly competitive affair when Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon and Jonathan “The General” Haggerty rematched at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW.
However, the Thai wrecking machine had other ideas in his hometown of Bangkok. He believed he had the key to defeat his rival inside the distance the second time around, and his assessment proved to be correct as he targeted the Englishman’s body immediately.
Rodtang charged at Haggerty with his usual aggressive style and sent him to the canvas with a liver shot in the opening stanza. “The General” bravely battled back, but the Jitmuangnon athlete had his number. He relentlessly pressured the Brit and closed the distance to land concussive punches in bunches.
In round three, he sent Haggerty down three times to close the show and retain his ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title in emphatic fashion.
#4 Todd Solves Stamp Puzzle & Gains Redemption
Stamp beat Todd to the ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title last year with a strategy that centered around kick counters and her powerful right hand, but the Japanese-American learned her lessons for the rematch.
“JT” stayed on her toes for every second of the match, which meant the powerful Thai could not plant her feet and throw with as much power as before. She also scored with long, straight punches to keep Stamp at bay, but also feinted and mixed up her kicking attack from low to high so she could keep her opponent guessing.
Stamp did not back down and kept things close until the end, but “JT’s” accuracy and commitment to executing her game plan won her the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Title.
#5 Buist Enters Upper Echelon With Folayang Win
The Dutchman had just two weeks to prepare, but he out-struck and out-grappled former ONE Lightweight World Champion, Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang.
Buist used his rangy frame to score in the striking exchanges, and wobbled the Filipino with a head kick in round three. On the ground, he threatened with a tight triangle-armbar that might have finished most other opponents, but it seemed like the roar of the Manila crowd kept “The Landslide” going.
Despite the support Folayang enjoyed, it was not his night, as “The Archangel” looked dangerous in every range and picked up a massive win to put him in World Title contention.