Every athlete in ONE Championship steps into the Circle for different reasons.
Perhaps for some it’s to secure a dominant debut. For others, it’s to capture a ONE World Title. Then you have fighters who battle for something bigger then themselves – perhaps for a loved one or a just cause.
With so much emotion packed into a fighter’s motivation, it shouldn’t be surprising, then, when their feelings spill into post-fight interviews.
Having said that, here are five heartfelt moments put on display inside the ONE Circle.
#1 Aung La N Sang’s Historic Win In Myanmar
Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang achieved what no other Burmese person had done before in front of a sold-out crowd at Myanmar’s Thuwunna Stadium in June 2017.
That night, he became the country’s first-ever Mixed Martial Arts World Champion.
It took a unanimous decision victory against Vitaly Bigdash to earn him the ONE Middleweight World Championship, but it may have taken even more for Aung La N Sang to address his compatriots in Yangon.
After an impassioned “Burmese Python” dropped to his knees at center Circle, he rose back to his feet and delivered an emotionally charged post-fight interview.
He said of the historic victory:
“I can not do this without God. I can not do this without my teammates. I can’t do this without you, Myanmar! I am not talented, I am not good, I am not fast. But with you, I have courage, I have strength, I have what I need to win the World Title!”
#2 Parr’s Retirement Speech
At the historic ONE X in March of this year, Muay Thai pioneer John Wayne “The Gunslinger” Parr was hunting for his 100th career victory when he took on former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang in his Muay Thai retirement bout.
The Filipino controlled the first and second rounds with his wushu striking, but the Aussie persevered in round three, hoping to cap off his legendary career on a high.
While he didn’t get the win, in the post-fight interview Parr tearfully thanked his family and fans for the support they showered him with during a career that spanned nearly 25 years.
Parr told ONE commentator Michael Schiavello:
“I’m disappointed I didn’t get the win because it was my last one. I just want to thank the world for all your support. It’s been an absolute honor to be a martial artist for the last 35 years. I’m heartbroken. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Well, I’m so sorry that I didn’t get the win. I love you guys.”
#3 Lee’s ONE Lightweight World Title Win Over Aoki
True to his nickname, “The Warrior” survived Aoki’s dangerous armbar attack in the opening stanza only to return with a barrage of punches that knocked “Tobikan Judan” out less than a minute into the second round.
The stunning finish left the audience in shock, as the 20-year-old became the youngest male World Champion in MMA history.
He said of his win over the Japanese icon:
“Tonight was a historic night, but I owe it all to my family. My dad, Angela Lee, the World Champion, and to my family that is all here. I love you guys.”
#4 Adiwang’s Dedication To His Late Mother
While he was getting ready to take on the Japanese ace, Adiwang’s mother passed away, forcing him to make one of the hardest decisions of his life – should he keep preparing for the bout, or should he focus 100 percent on grieving his loss?
“Thunder Kid” chose the former, knowing that it would make his mom happy. In the bout, he dug deep and scored a second-round knockout of Kawahara, after which he dedicated the victory to his late mother.
Adiwang said of the thrilling battle:
“I got tested here. Honestly this is the toughest fight that I had. I did not prepare well, but to God be the glory, I got the win. We’ve been through a lot. I love you so much. This is for you guys. This is for Mama.”
#5 Lee’s First-Ever World Title Defense As ‘Mom Champ’
Angela Lee took almost three years away from the ONE Circle to focus on pregnancy and then motherhood, leaving many doubting if she would be the same “Unstoppable” force who dominated the ONE roster years earlier.
However, Lee secured her ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title with a second-round submission win over ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix Champion Stamp Fairtex at ONE X on 26 March 2022.
In doing so, she proved that being a mother wouldn’t hold her back from being a World Champion. If anything, her new role would only continue to push her forward.
Lee said as she carried her daughter triumphantly around the Circle:
“This moment right here is a dream come true for me. I wanted to be a World Champion. I accomplished that in 2016. Today I became the first ever ‘Mom Champ’ in ONE Championship. This little girl right here is the reason you guys saw the best performance from me. So thank you, Ava Marie. Mama did it for you, baby girl.”