Knockouts are always a thing of beauty. It is the kind of finish fans crave in any match, and inside the ONE Championship cage, it comes with tremendous frequency. The last quarter alone has produced some of the most epic fireworks ever, and now we look back at the four top highlights that transpired.
#1 Kevin Belingon Stuns Reece McLaren
Apart from Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon’s January 2016 title shot against reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes, his bout against Australia’s Reece “Lightning” McLaren, which took place last August, was considered his toughest challenge yet.
McLaren, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, took the promotion by storm when he upset top divisional rivals Mark Striegl and Muin Gafurov in his first two outings. The victories earned him a shot at Fernandes himself, and he took the champion to the brink in a gruelling five-round affair.
So, when the bout with Belingon was made, everyone had their eye on these two former bantamweight world title challengers. It was expected to be a gauge of Belingon’s improvement as a competitor, particularly in the grappling department. Since “The Silencer” experienced difficulty with Fernandes’ world-class grappling, McLaren was supposed to be the perfect litmus test to determine if he was ready for another shot at the title.
Belingon made his case emphatically. Just like the Filipino did to Toni Tauru just last quarter, Belingon once again tops this quarterly recap of the best knockouts with a complete annihilation of McLaren. With the bout starting off on the feet, the Aussie goaded him into a fiery exchange of strikes, which later turned out to be ill-advised.
Recognizing an opening, “The Silencer” uncorked a monstrous right hand that exploded on McLaren’s chin, slumping the Australian to the mat. He then proceeded to swarm “Lightning” until the contest was stopped.
#2 Ev Ting Destroys Former Champion Nobutatsu Suzuki
Former ONE Lightweight World Championship title challenger Ev Ting wants nothing more than to quickly get back into title contention, following an unsuccessful bid in April, when he fell to current lightweight king Eduard “Landslide” Folayang by unanimous decision.
Going into the bout with former ONE Welterweight World Champion Nobutatsu Suzuki at home in Kuala Lumpur, Ting would step inside the cage a winner of four of his last five contests. Suzuki, however, would pose a different sort of challenge for the Malaysian superstar. Early on, the Japanese warrior’s experience would shine through, as he gave Ting different looks inside the ONE cage.
Ting would not be denied though, and he knew he needed to make a statement in this bout in order to bring himself closer to another title shot. With less than two minutes to go in the very first round, the Malaysian turned up the pressure and overwhelmed Suzuki with a volley of power punches to force an abrupt stoppage.
While Suzuki’s effort was certainly valiant, it was clear that Ting never entertained the thought of defeat anytime soon, much less in front of his hometown crowd. He may not have earned an immediate rematch with Folayang with his performance, but it definitely keeps him in the running.
#3 Amir Khan Slumps Jaroslav Jartim
With the entire world watching as ONE put on its inaugural event in the bustling Chinese metropolis of Shanghai, Singaporean prospect Amir Khan knew he had the opportunity to make a statement. Standing in his way would be the Czech Repuclic’s Jaroslav Jartim, who himself was looking to erase the bitter taste of defeat at the hands of Honorio Banario in his promotional debut last April.
The 22-year-old Khan had long been on the rise as one of the most promising young stars in Asia, and you could get the sense that all he needed was one breakout performance before cracking the top tier of talent. That performance came when Khan obliterated Jartim with a head kick-right hand combination that had the Czech crashing to the canvas.
All eight of Khan’s victories have now come by finish, including four of his last five by knockout. In fact, he currently holds the record for both the number of knockouts (7) and finishes (8) in ONE Championship history.
With his credentials rapidly building into a solid resume, Khan has definitely broken into the top tier at lightweight, and at 22 years old, is just getting started.
#4 Roy Doliguez Catches Yago Bryan With A Straight Left
Former professional boxer and ex-ONE Strawweight World Championship title challenger Roy “The Dominator” Doliguez has had a tough time in his first few outings with the promotion. Although he had performed well in his last three bouts prior to entering the matchup against Brazil’s Yago Bryan, victory proved to be elusive for the Filipino stalwart.
Through nearly three full rounds with Bryan, Doliguez was consistently out-grappled, and more often than not, beaten to the punch in striking exchanges. Bryan was doing everything right, and appeared to be on his way to winning a decision with two minutes remaining in the bout.
That is when “The Dominator” proved to the world that all it takes is one punch to dramatically change the complexion of any given bout. Despite being dominated on the ground, Doliguez stuck to his boxing, firing blistering combinations all bout long. A straight left hand landed flush at the end of the second, indicative of the finish that was to come.
Past the midway point of the third and final round, Doliguez launched yet another straight left right down the pipe, landing on Bryan’s jaw. The impact dropped his Brazilian nemesis immediately, and Doliguez confidently strode towards Bryan to continue his attack, sensing that it may not be necessary. That’s when veteran referee Olivier Coste intervened, and rightfully called a halt to the contest.