Grappling Super-Matches have found a home in ONE Championship.
In the past eight months, ONE has held a pair of enticing Grappling Super-Matches that have riveted audiences around the planet. The first one featured Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon tapping out Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, and the second featured Aoki submitting Marat “Cobra” Gafurov via rear-naked choke.
Now that Grappling Super-Matches have become a fixture in the ONE cage, discussion is rife regarding ONE athletes fans would love to see engage in one of these thrilling contests. Here are six grappling experts with different lineages, backgrounds, and styles that would be perfect.
ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes is always looking for a challenge.
The five-time BJJ world champion earned his nickname, “The Flash,” after finishing so many of his grappling matches in quick fashion before he became a terror in the ONE cage.
The bantamweight king is still sitting atop the mountain after decades of competition, and would provide instant excitement if he were to participate in a Grappling Super-Match. In fact, a contest between Fernandes and Imanari would be a thrilling clash of grappling styles.
However, he will first have to get past the challenge of ONE Featherweight & Lightweight World Champion Martin Nguyen, whom he faces on 24 March at ONE: IRON WILL in Bangkok, Thailand.
Simply put, Michelle Nicolini is an IBJJF Hall of Famer and eight-time BJJ world champion, and she is one of the very best female submission grapplers in history.
The third-degree BJJ black belt accomplished a stellar career on the strength of her shin-on-shin guard, toe holds, and other signature techniques well before she strapped on gloves.
Now that she has been tearing it up inside the cage, it would be fun to see Nicolini paired up with one of her old BJJ rivals, or welcome more of the world’s best ground specialists to the ONE cage in marquee contests.
Before focusing on his surging career in the cage and recapturing the ONE Flyweight World Championship, Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes was an accomplished Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling competitor.
The BJJ black belt trained with the Constrictor Team under Erick Medeiros and Ataide Junior, with his crowning competition achievement being the NAGA No-Gi Pro Division Championship in 2014.
If the triangle and rear-naked choke specialist ever wants to test himself in a Grappling Super-Match, we would love to see him let loose, and once more focus on his feared grappling.
ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva turned his attention to the cage in 2011, and the third-degree BJJ black belt has since put those considerable grappling skills to good use.
The Evolve MMA team member was already a world champion before he entered the cage. He won a string of regional and national tournaments, culminating with the Copa do Mundo World Championship.
Even though he will surely be defending the ONE Strawweight World Title in the coming months, we hope “Little Rock” decides to get more submission grappling bouts done in between his contests.
Leandro “Brodinho” Issa had a big 2017 inside the cage with two wins using punches, kicks, and everything else in his arsenal.
Still, we would not hesitate to watch the third-degree BJJ black belt and 2004 Mundials World Champion get back to his grappling roots this coming year with an exciting Grappling Super-Match.
With no shortage of rivals from both the worlds of BJJ and the ONE cage, Evolve MMA’s Issa would have plenty of potential opponents to lock-up with, and be amply prepared with world-class training partners such as Silva by his side.
Three-time DEEP Champion Masakazu Imanari has done just about everything in combat sports, including a slew of submission grappling matches.
The Japanese leg lock expert, appropriately nicknamed “Ashikan Judan” which translates to “Grand Master of Leg Locks,” is still going strong in the cage at 41. Nonetheless, we would love to see him take a short respite away from cage contests strikes after a tough decision loss against fellow BJJ black belt Yusup Saadulaev, and showcase those tremendous skills.
After all, there are very few competitors who have the leg lock knowledge of Imanari. What’s more, even fewer can say they have innovated techniques such as the famed “Imanari Roll.”