The United States of America is one of the world leaders in mixed martial arts, and some of the country’s greatest athletes compete on the global stage of ONE Championship.
There are multiple World Champions and a handful of top contenders from the powerhouse nation, as well as some of the brightest rising stars, and they’ve been busy in The Home Of Martial Arts so far in 2021.
As the 4th of July approaches, we take a look at the five greatest American victories from the first half of the year.
#5 Do Chokes Out Liang In Big Show Debut
Despite having just one appearance in the ONE Warrior Series developmental league — where he went head-to-head with Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang in a competitive three-round affair — the American Kickboxing Academy product’s step-up to the big leagues didn’t faze him one bit.
He looked sharp with his striking in the opening stanza, found some dominant positions on the ground, and stayed composed when Liang piled on the pressure from the top.
In the second frame, “The Antidote” let his hands fly again until “The Little Monster” dived in for a double-leg takedown. The American scrambled to stay out of trouble, but Liang gave chase. And as he did, he fell right into Do’s triangle choke.
Do cinched up the submission, tipped his man over to apply the squeeze, and rendered his Chinese rival unconscious to cap off an impressive debut on the global stage.
#4 “The Prodigy” Lives Up To Her Name
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the professional MMA debut of Victoria “The Prodigy” Lee, and the young Hawaii native did not disappoint.
“The Prodigy” — who is the younger sibling to ONE World Champions “Unstoppable” Angela Lee and Christian “The Warrior” Lee — pushed forward with strikes early, but she found herself getting some airtime courtesy of a beautiful hip throw from Srisen.
However, the United MMA star escaped back to her feet, where she clinched up again, dragged “Thunderstorm” to the canvas, and spent the rest of the first stanza attacking with strikes and choke attempts.
Though she couldn’t put the Thai away inside round one, she carried her momentum into the beginning of round two. Lee again found a route to the back from the clinch, bullied her foe to the canvas, and then slapped on a bout-ending rear-naked choke to take the win.
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#3 Buntan Stops Wondergirl’s Meteoric Rise
The surging Thai had claimed two KO wins in as many promotional appearances, but that did not shake Buntan. As Wondergirl came forward, the American evaded her strikes and countered with heavy punches and kicks.
Buntan topped off an impressive first round with a thunderous left hook that crumpled Wondergirl to the canvas. Somehow, the Fairtex representative got back to her feet and made it to the second frame.
The blow clearly took its toll on the Thai, and the California native’s grasp grew stronger as the match went on.
Buntan made the most of Wondergirl’s suddenly gun-shy offense. She peppered her rival’s head and body with hard punches and, despite not being able to put her foe away, cruised to a commanding win on the judges’ scorecards.
#2 Todd Finishes Hogstad With Crushing Body Blow
Buntan’s Boxing Works teammate Janet “JT” Todd pushed herself closer to a ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title shot with another stunning victory, this time over Anne “Ninja” Line Hogstad at “ONE on TNT II.”
The Norwegian tried to pressure the atomweight kickboxing queen, but Todd was unflappable. She controlled the distance and used straight punches and kicks to accumulate damage. When Hogstad did try to land, “JT” made her rival miss and brilliantly countered her.
Todd upped the pace in round two. She blasted “Ninja Line” with punches and controlled the distance with well-timed push kicks. But in the final frame, she dialed up the intensity even more.
“JT” decked Hogstad with a push kick as she tried to come in — which was an honest interpretation of the Norwegian’s efforts so far — and then she found the finish. Sticking her jab in her foe’s face to raise her guard, Todd then smashed her left shin into Hogstad’s liver.
The punishing strike put “Ninja Line” down and she could not make the referee’s count, giving the American a KO win.
#1 Lee Obliterates Nastyukhin In Opening Round
Timofey Nastyukhin is known as one of the toughest and most ferocious lightweights in the world, but Christian Lee once again proved why he is the top dog in the division at “ONE on TNT II.”
Many expected the Russian to push Lee harder than ever before, but the Evolve and United MMA athlete needed just 73 seconds to dispatch him and retain his ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Nastyukhin pressured the reigning king with his usual aggressive style and fired off some warning shots with buckling low kicks. However, he was too predictable for “The Warrior” when he came lunging in with looping punches.
A massive right hand swung in Lee’s direction, but the Singaporean-American stepped back out of range and then found the mark with a pinpoint left hook to the chin.
Nastyukhin fell and “The Warrior” reacted instantly. As the Russian tried to find some space to regain his senses, Lee swarmed him with a relentless assault of punches, not letting up until the referee stepped in to halt the barrage.