The third quarter of 2021 hosted some of the most memorable nights in ONE Championship history, with dozens of thrilling battles taking place inside the Circle.
The promotion’s mixed martial artists delivered at every event, duking it out in World Grand Prix matchups, World Title affairs, and more.
After picking our favorites, let’s look back at the five best MMA fights that took place in The Home of Martial Arts from July to September.
#5 Zhang Lipeng Vs. Eduard Folayang
The Chinese star used an aggressive wrestling style to get Folayang to the canvas and attacked with ground-and-pound at every opportunity. However, the Filipino veteran consistently showed his durability to survive and escape.
“Landslide” pelted his foe with punches and low kicks when he could, though he had to be wary of “The Warrior’s” desire to close the distance. Zhang hustled for the takedown in every round and also found a home for some sharp strikes.
And though Folayang grew into the match and employed his explosive sprawl in round three, it was too late to sway the judges after 15 action-packed minutes.
Instead, “The Warrior” earned the win by unanimous decision, taking out a former ONE Lightweight World Champion in the process and quickly establishing himself as a major threat in the division.
#4 Jeremy Pacatiw Vs. Chen Rui
The pair went back and forth on the feet and the mat in their bantamweight clash.
Pacatiw mixed his wushu striking with strong wrestling and groundwork. “The Ghost” replied with his powerful right hand on the feet and a formidable bottom game on the canvas – including sweeps and stand-ups.
“The Juggernaut” latched onto a few submission attempts, while Chen stung his foe with crunching rights when he managed to stuff the takedowns.
Pacatiw controlled most of the bout, but the Chinese dynamo came on strong to offer the judges something to consider late in round three. Ultimately, they went with “The Juggernaut” via unanimous decision.
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#3 Alyona Rassohyna Vs. Stamp Fairtex II
The second meeting lived up to the hype, as they engaged in another three-round battle, with Stamp ultimately leveling the score following a late submission defeat in their first encounter.
Rassohyna did her best to avoid the former ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion’s striking skills. She took Stamp down in round one and dropped heavy punches, but the Thai standout showed her improved grappling to escape, take her foe’s back, and look for a rear-naked choke.
The Ukrainian continued her efforts to force a ground fight and attacked with a heel hook and a close armbar attempt, but Stamp would not be denied. She gritted her teeth and escaped every time, pounding Rassohyna on the feet and delivering heavy strikes on the ground.
It was a closely contested matchup, but two judges sided with Stamp, who got the nod by split decision to avenge her lone MMA defeat.
#2 Ritu Phogat Vs. Meng Bo
Things looked bad for the Indian wrestling sensation in round one when Meng rocked her with a right hand and unleashed a blistering attack of punches in search of a finish.
Somehow, Phogat survived – and then thrived. In the second round, “The Indian Tigress” took her opponent down early and rained down punches, elbows, and knees from top position.
From there, it was the Chinese athlete’s mettle that was tested. Meng showed that she had the heart to battle on – but Phogat’s wrestling was unstoppable.
The Indian star took Meng down early in the final frame, pinned her to the mat, and smothered her with strikes to seal a stunning unanimous decision victory despite being seconds away from defeat in round one.
#1 Ok Rae Yoon Vs. Christian Lee
The result was a clash that will be hard to top in 2021. It had knockdowns, submission attempts, swings of momentum, and everything else that comes with such an epic showdown.
Ok tried to find room to land his jumping knees on the reigning king in the first round. But “The Warrior’s” perseverance allowed him to control the challenger in the clinch.
The South Korean then found some room to work in the next two rounds and dropped Lee with a right hand, only to fall victim to the same fate when he tried to capitalize.
At one point, Lee even had his challenger’s back and threw on a rear-naked choke that would have finished most opponents, but the Team Mad product managed to escape.
Ok appeared to be the fresher man in the championship rounds and picked his rival apart with his fists and knees, but the United MMA athlete was not finished yet. He shook his foe with a right hand late in round five that left the decision up for debate.
All three judges opted for Ok, who earned the ONE Lightweight World Title by unanimous decision – though it’s possible we’ll see a rematch after such a close and exciting first meeting.