ONE Championship closed out 2017 in grand fashion.
The Asian martial arts promotion hosted its final show of the calendar year, ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday, 9 December, and it featured a changing of the guard as Alex “Little Rock” Silva captured the strawweight world title.
Besides the thrilling main event, there were a slew of martial artists who emerged as future world title contenders, and a couple of rookies who ended the year on a very positive note. There were so many unforgettable moments coming out of the event, but here are just five highlights from an electric night in Bangkok.
Alex Silva Claims ONE Strawweight World Championship In Five-Round Thriller
After five rounds of action, Alex “Little Rock” Silva proved he has what it takes to compete for 25 minutes, and that he possesses a lethal striking game to compliment his grappling wizardry.
The 35-year-old BJJ world champion flashed the stand-up skills he learned from Evolve MMA’s many Muay Thai world champions, and used it hand Japan’s Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito his only career blemish and rip the ONE Strawweight World Title from his grasp.
Silva utilized thudding kicks to damage Naito’s lead leg, and weaved together some impressive combinations, which frustrated and occasionally stunned the former titleholder. He out-classed “Nobita” on his feet in the first three stanzas, and although the Japanese competitor leaned on his wrestling prowess during the championship rounds, Silva was slick enough to avoid any immediate danger.
It was an exciting bout, so much so that it is a shame it had to end at five rounds. But Silva was the better man on this December night, and the Brazilian realized his world championship dream to inspire the world.
Christian Lee’s Ground-Shaking Slam Knockout
It was a battle between a young lion and an experienced veteran. Christian “The Warrior” Lee showed his potential by swarming and overwhelming former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku with a relentless attack.
Both athletes are widely considered two of the top talents in ONE’s stacked featherweight division, but the Singaporean teenage sensation was much faster and crisper than the Japanese veteran.
Lee constantly threatened with punches, knees, and frequent submission attempts. None of those, however, got the job done. Instead, it was a powerful slam which knocked Boku out.
The Singaporean has been driven to erase the memory of his only career loss, a devastating submission to reigning two-division ONE World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen, and the KO puts him that much closer to earning his world title shot at revenge.
Xiong Jing Nan Proves She Is The Real Deal
The world has been patiently waiting for the highly-anticipated ONE debut of “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan. This past weekend, she finally made her arrival, and it was worth the wait.
Competing opposite Team Lakay’s Filipino wushu champion April Osenio is not an easy undertaking, but Xiong made it look simple. She marvelously displayed her wide array of skills in the four-minute showcase
Xiong, a former pro boxer and China Open BJJ Champion, battered Osenio on the feet, and nearly submitted her with a guillotine choke on the ground. The end came shortly after, where she relentlessly threw powerful punches until her Filipino rival helplessly dropped to the canvas.
With such an impressive promotional debut, it would not be the least bit surprising if she is matched up against a top strawweight contender with a world title shot at stake.
Sagetdao Petpayathai Ends Impeccable 2017 On A High
Multi-time Muay Thai World Champion Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai has flawlessly transitioned his world-class striking skills to the cage, and has undoubtedly proven to be the breakout martial artist of the year.
This past Saturday, he put the exclamation point on a stellar 2017 when he scored a technical knockout victory over the Philippines’ Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo. He impressively devastated his Filipino rival with punches, elbows, and knees before dropping him with a knee to the liver. Even more surprising was the fact that Yabo was barely able to land any shots on his celebrated Thai opponent.
Evolve MMA’s Petpayathai had three matches inside the ONE cage this year, and every single one of them ended by first-round TKO. None of his bouts have even hit the three minute mark. That is quite an amazing feat, but “Deadly Star” will undoubtedly attempt to outdo himself in 2018.
Rika Ishige Returns To Form At Home
It is always interesting to see how a martial artist responds to a loss. For Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige, it is especially interesting.
The Thai martial artist made her professional debut earlier this year, also in Bangkok, and generated lots of hype around her following her first victory. There was even more after her second win, establishing her as a bonafide star. All of that came to a halt this past August, when she was upset by Jomary Torres.
She did not sulk, nor did she waste away. Instead, she worked on correcting her flaws while strengthening her advantages. That was on full display this past Saturday, as she dazzled with improved stand-up, a wider arsenal, and a more patient approach against Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad. “Tinydoll” took her time, and was rewarded with a second round rear-naked choke victory.