Quite often, when groundbreaking announcements are made in the world of combat sports, there is fanfare and expectation, but ultimately underwhelming news, or a reality that fails to live up to the hype.
“A global super league that will feature the world’s greatest strikers,” he asserted, simply.
There was no need for anticipation — in the same announcement, he revealed that ONE would be entering as market leaders.
This global super league would make its premiere on Friday, 20 April, at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR in Manila, Philippines. Giorgio Petrosyan faced Jo Nattawut in the night’s co-main event, and Nong-O Gaiyanghadao was booked against Fabio Pinca.
This was literally the best in the striking world, from day one.
Just a quick glimpse of the players involved told the story.
Petrosyan is almost universally-regarded as the best kickboxer of all-time, and not just the current era. Nong-O is without doubt one of the most decorated Muay Thai World Champions ever, as he is a four-time Lumpinee Stadium World Champion, a two-time Thailand National Champion, and a Rajadamnern Stadium World Champion.
Their respective opponents were the best of the best, too — they are multiple-time World Champions in their own right, and ferocious talents in the stand-up game.
It seemed implausible a new project could come in at that level from the get-go, but ONE Championship’s rise and reputation in Asia had given them bargaining power. The reach was massive, the stadiums were packed, and the athletes were valued.
As the days passed, new signings came to light, with each addition to the global super league exciting both fans and industry insiders alike.
Now, seven months following the original disclosure from Sityodtong, the big names keep coming, but we have also seen the action play out in the ONE ring and the ONE cage.
With that in mind, there is a pair of questions that need to be asked: Has ONE Super Series added to the martial arts landscape in Asia? Also, has it done what it set out to do, by uniting the best strikers in the world under a common umbrella?
The answer to both is a resounding “Yes.”
ONE is broadcast to 1.7 billion potential viewers across 138 countries. Each one of those countries may have their own martial arts heritage, but those disciplines hold many of the same principles.
Mixed martial arts — and its rule set — has been a relatively new explosion in pop culture, but there is not a nation on this planet where there are no popular striking sports.
By pitting the best strikers in the world on the same cards as the established ONE warriors, you can get a taste of everything. The best punches, kicks, and knees; the explosive trips, slams, and throws; and the devastating chokes and joint locks.
While the global martial arts rule set allows for more open-ended combat throughout the different ranges, the ONE Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts have allowed greater nuance and strategy in the stand-up exchanges.
It has brought fans to ONE Championship from other disciplines, and further educated the existing fanbase. Also, it has united fractured martial arts scenes, previously separated by rule sets.
Fans understand, and have been thrilled by the action so far. After all, how could they not be?
There have been spectacular three-round tussles, emphatic knockouts, and come-from-behind victories, as well as technical mastery and performances led from the heart.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Cosmo "Good Boy" Alexandre put on a dazzling striking display, scoring a stunning TKO at 2:41 of the second round!TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, April 20, 2018
In a fast-paced first stanza, Compton delivered an array of strikes — landing punches, kicks, and spinning elbows.
Seemingly down on the scorecards, Alexandre put his foot on the gas and went on the offensive. He ultimately found a home for powerful knees to the mid-section, which put the Aussie away.
Just one month later, Thai legend Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex and Dutch-Congolese athlete Chris “The African Warrior” Ngimbi needed the judges to separate them after three closely-contested rounds at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
In the ONE four-ounce gloves, Yodsanklai marched forward with hard punching combinations and punishing left kicks to the body. Ngimbi was down, but not out. He bit down on his gum shield to swing heavy shots in round three, though he still came up short.
Who do you want to see Yodsanklai face next?Download the ONE Super App now ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, August 2, 2018
Champions from the worlds of Muay Thai, kickboxing, lethwei, and more have blended perfectly with their peers, and shown they can offer just as much excitement as the mixed martial artists.
It is clear the language of martial arts transcends all barriers — nationality, race, and religion. With the addition of the thrilling ONE Super Series, there is no question that ONE Championship has further solidified its place as The Home Of Martial Arts.
Jason Furness is a Research Writer at ONE Championship. All opinions are the writer’s own.