ONE Championship’s finest athletes have turned their visions of victory into reality.
This past Friday, 9 March, the promotion held its latest spectacle ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY at the brand new Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The world saw the confirmation of the next ONE Flyweight World Title challenger, the breaking of a ONE Championship record, former world title contenders returning to prominence, and an unforgettable debut.
Here are just four of the night’s most spectacular highlights.
“Lightning” Electrifies The Flyweight Division
Filipino-Australian martial artist Reece “Lightning” McLaren may have been entering his opponent’s home town, but he stepped into the Axiata Arena with a smile on his face for his clash with Malaysian hero Gianni Subba.
McLaren, the clear outsider, was beaming with confidence ahead of his main event tilt, and that showed in his submission victory.
The two combatants excited the crowd with their respective styles. Subba threatened “Lightning” with effective punches and kicks, but McLaren stole the show midway through the second frame. He masterfully secured a takedown, landed in full mount, and locked in an arm-triangle choke in a matter of seconds to force the tap.
“Lightning” became the first man to ever finish Subba, and now, with back-to-back wins against top contenders, he has comfortably settled into his new home in the flyweight division. Also, he has a guaranteed title shot against either ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes or ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio.
Agilan Thani’s Sheer Dominance
Malaysia’s own Agilan “Alligator” Thani entertained the hometown crowd with his most dominant performance yet.
The 22-year-old may have been fairly tentative to begin his clash with Amitesh Chaubey, but he soon caught one of the Indian striker’s thunderous kicks and powerfully slammed him to the canvas.
Thani severely outmatched the SFL Welterweight Champion on the mat, and was careful not to punch himself out during his ground and pound onslaught. Although the bout went to the second round, the Malaysian immediately walked Chaubey down with strikes, dumped him to the ground again, and secured a tight Americana to force the tap.
Even more impressive than Thani’s physicality was the mentality he carried inside the ONE cage. Being lacking in the mental game was the local hero’s undoing in his world title clash with Ben Askren last May, but it is clear he has evolved.
Chaubey certainly tested Thani’s temperament, often taunting him throughout the contest. “Alligator” paid him no mind, however, and perhaps now he is more prepared than ever for another world title challenge.
Christian Lee Sets A New Record
There may not be a hungrier and more driven featherweight than Christian “The Warrior” Lee.
The teenage sensation continued decimating his way through the division, and claimed his latest victim in Japan’s Kazunori Yokota.
Yokota, a two-division DEEP Champion, proved to be a formidable challenge for the 19-year-old Singaporean. While Lee was more explosive with his approach, the Japanese competitor remained poised and used his veteran experience to his advantage. He remained calm in threatening positions, did an excellent job in scrambles, and landed his fair share of hard strikes against his younger opposition.
However, Lee was too quick for Yokota. He wound up submitting the veteran with his very own “Terminator Guillotine,” and became the holder of the most stoppage victories (9) in ONE Championship history. That performance may have been just enough to grant him a crack at the ONE Featherweight World Championship.
The “Shadow Cat” Announcing Her Arrival
Similar to the aforementioned Lee, Malaysian atomweight Jihan “Shadow Cat” Radzuan entered the promotion as a decorated teenage sensation. The debutante is a FIOGA wushu world champion and a MIMMA women’s flyweight champion. Now, she could become the next atomweight superstar in ONE.
Radzuan made her promotional debut on the prelims in a highly competitive bout against Puja Tomar, an Indian wushu champion who displayed some greatly-improved cage awareness, grappling, and overall striking since we last saw her in the ONE cage.
Still, it was not enough, as “Shadow Cat” effectively out-grappled Tomar on the ground, transitioned from submission to submission, and captured her first promotional victory halfway through the second frame via triangle choke.