The world of combat sports is unpredictable, and in the second quarter of 2021, ONE Championship fans were treated to some truly stunning outcomes.
From historic World Title showdowns to surprising knockouts and pivotal upsets, the last three months had it all – and delivered some epic highlights that will be relived for years to come.
After an incredible slate of action, here are the five most shocking moments in ONE Championship from April to June 2021.
#5 Nguyen Knocks Phogat Out Of Atomweight GP
Phogat’s superior wrestling was on display early, but strong defense from “Killer Bee” allowed her to avoid taking much damage. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese-American’s offensive output had more of an effect on the feet.
As the final bell neared in a razor-close match, Nguyen pushed the pace with her striking to edge out a split decision.
In the process, she handed “The Indian Tigress” her first professional defeat and officially knocked her out of the biggest women’s tournament in mixed martial arts history.
#4 RDR Takes Another Belt From ALNS On 6 Days’ Notice
Six months later, he dethroned the Myanmar icon once again – this time for the ONE Light Heavyweight World Title at “ONE on TNT IV.”
Of course, their second showdown wasn’t even supposed to happen. Aung La N Sang was originally scheduled to defend his belt in a trilogy fight with old foe Vitaly Bigdash, but the Russian star was forced to withdraw due to health and safety protocols.
With that, De Ridder took a risk by accepting the bout on just six days’ notice, flew to Singapore, and promptly became a two-division ONE World Champion.
Although Aung La N Sang showed improvements in his submission defense, the hulking Dutchman held nearly every positional advantage on the canvas over the course of the bout. The dominant 25-minute grappling display left no doubt about who deserved the gold.
By moving his record to a perfect 14-0, De Ridder made more history by becoming the only unbeaten two-division World Champion ever in mixed martial arts.
- ONE’s Top 5 MMA Fights From April-June 2021
- ONE’s Top 3 Muay Thai And Kickboxing Knockouts From April-June 2021
- ONE’s Top 5 MMA Knockouts From April-June 2021
#3 Saemapetch Finishes Kulabdam In 2 Minutes
The ONE: FULL BLAST main event between #1-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender Saemapetch Fairtex and #3-ranked “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai was expected to produce a hard-fought battle between two World Title hopefuls.
Fireworks were certainly expected – but the crushing first-round knockout caught many by surprise.
With one minute remaining in the opening frame, the Fairtex star countered Kulabdam’s incoming left low kick with a brilliant right hook-left cross combination to the liver.
As “Left Meteorite” crumpled to the canvas, fans were left in awe of Saemapetch’s accuracy and power. It was a reminder of just how quickly things can end in ONE Super Series action, even when two combatants are well-aware of the other’s power.
Saemapetch’s epic body blow cemented his status as the top-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender and kept the legendary Nong-O Gaiyanghadao within his sights.
#2 Ok Beats Gafurov, Alvarez In Back-To-Back Outings
How do you make an instant impression on the global stage? Just follow Ok Rae Yoon‘s lead and defeat a pair of former Mixed Martial Arts World Champions within a month.
First, the South Korean debuted against former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov at “ONE on TNT III.” After three grueling rounds, Ok scored the unanimous decision win and earned the #5 spot in the official lightweight rankings.
That victory also set up a date with mixed martial arts legend Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, who was aiming to bounce back from a no contest against Iuri Lapicus and continue his quest to win lightweight gold in all three major organizations.
Ok and Alvarez faced off at “ONE on TNT IV,” and their meeting was filled with fireworks, including a near finish of the American icon in the opening stanza. Although “The Underground King” battled his way back into the match, the South Korean rising star met his output and capped off the wild bout with another unanimous decision victory.
With those back-to-back wins, Ok went from a debutant to the #3-ranked lightweight contender – and a genuine threat to challenge for the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
#1 Moraes KOs The Flyweight GOAT
In the organization’s first event on United States prime-time television, ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes defended his belt against the man many considered the greatest pound-for-pound athlete in mixed martial arts, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Despite being the reigning titleholder, Moraes was considered a heavy underdog at “ONE on TNT I.” However, the Brazilian believed in himself and that confidence paid off, as he became the first person to finish the dominant flyweight GOAT.
After feeling each other out in the opening frame, Moraes patiently waited for his opportunity to strike in the action-packed second round.
Halfway into the stanza, “Mikinho” laced in a gorgeous right uppercut, which dropped the American legend to the canvas. As Johnson attempted to get back to his feet, the Brazilian unleashed a picture-perfect left knee, which put “Mighty Mouse” out for good.
The jaw-dropping conclusion highlighted Moraes’ brilliance and stature in the sport, as he earned the biggest victory of his career, moved his record to 19-3, and proved that he is the unquestioned king of the flyweight division.